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Gordon Ready to Trump the Field in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 29, 2003) – If the trend continues, Jeff Gordon should finish in the top five on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In odd-numbered years, Gordon has a win (2001) and a third-place finish (1999) at the 1.5-mile track. In even-numbered years, his best finish is 17th.

“This track has been feast or famine for us in the past,” Gordon said. “We had a decent run here in 1999 and a great run in 2001. Looking back, that win may have been the catalyst for our championship season.

“We didn’t qualify well that weekend, but Robbie Loomis and the DuPont team worked hard throughout the day and the car just got better and better. That gave us some confidence early in the season and it just steam-rolled from there.”

2003 hasn’t started out the way Gordon would have liked. In his first two races, he has only managed 12th and 15th-place finishes and finds himself 13th in the point standings, 100 markers behind leader Kurt Busch. He is not worrying because the finishes are not indicative of how well the No. 24 team has performed.

“We had a strong run at Daytona, but the red flag caught us just as we had been shuffled back,” Gordon said. “We worked hard all day at Rockingham to gain track position. Unfortunately, we lost all the track position toward the end of the race with a spin in turn four.

“I like the attitude of this team right now. We’ve been communicating well and the pit stops have been great. It’s only a matter of time before it all comes together and we make the trip to Victory Lane.”

Earlier this year, Gordon tested at Las Vegas in an effort to learn the characteristics of the new 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. According to the four-time Winston Cup champion, the learning curve for the car is not as steep as the last time Chevrolet debuted a new body style.

“We struggled a bit with the balance on the old Monte Carlo when we first came out with it,” Gordon said. “This new body style has more balance between front and rear downforce.

“We are still learning, though. We’ve worked three or four years with the old car and you learn how it reacts to certain changes. This new body style is reacting different to those changes.

“Las Vegas will be a good gauge to see how far we’ve progressed in that learning process.”

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