Gordon Betting on Success at Pocono
- Jun 04, 2003
- 24 Team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 4, 2003) – The last time Jeff Gordon visited Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, he led no laps and finished 12th. By most standards a decent run, but poor in comparison to Gordon’s previous showings at the relatively flat 2.5-mile layout.
Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, hopes he can add to his already impressive statistics in this Sunday’s Pocono 500. In 20 starts, he has three victories, two poles, 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s. In fact, he has finished outside the top 16 only once in his last 18 races.
Gordon, driver of the DuPont Chevrolet, has shown a knack for leading at Pocono. He has led at least one lap in 15 of 20 events and leads all active drivers with 811 laps led.
“We always seem to lead a lot of laps (at Pocono), but we only have three wins to show for it,” Gordon said. “You can have the dominant car and not win because so many things factor into the race. Pit stops, fuel mileage and the timing of cautions—not just who has the fastest race car—seem to determine the winners here.
“Several times we’ve had the fastest car and things didn’t go our way.”
In June of 2001, an ill-timed caution flag may have ruined Gordon’s chances at victory. He led an event-high 86 laps and was leading when Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett pitted under green-flag conditions. Rudd and Jarrett were able to stay on the lead lap and benefited when the caution flag flew a few laps later.
“You can compare Pocono to the road courses in that aspect,” Gordon said. “If you can stay on the lead lap, it’s better to be lucky and pit just before a caution rather than pit during a caution. Ricky and Dale were able to stay out on the track during the caution period and they restarted ahead of everyone else.
“My car worked better out front that day. In traffic, I developed a ‘push’ and just couldn’t get by Ricky at the end.”
Gordon, who currently sits third in points, knows the upcoming races are at tracks where the No. 24 DuPont Motorsports team can cut into Matt Kenseth’s point lead.
“Matt has been consistent all year and I expect him to remain consistent through the end of the season,” Gordon said. “It’s still too early to think about points, but it’s not too early to take advantage of tracks where we’ve had success.
“Pocono, Michigan and Sears Point are good tracks for us. Hopefully we can run well, finish in the top five and pull closer before we start the 20-race stretch that ends our season.
“Although, I’d rather think of the approaching weekend off.”