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For Gordon, Two Pocono Events Seem Miles Apart

LONG POND, Pa. (July 29, 2004) – Although Pocono Raceway’s pair of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events are separated by only 49 days, Jeff Gordon’s results in the two are like night and day.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolets, has three wins, two poles, 11 top-fives and 16 top-10s in 23 events at the 2.5-mile speedway.  He has led 830 laps—the most of any driver—and has led the most laps five times.

However, his average finish in the first event is 7.3 and his average starting position is 6.9.  Compare that to the second event—the Pennsylvania 500—where the numbers jump to 13.4 and 12.1, respectively.

Gordon has finished 30th or worse on three occasions at Pocono, each of those occurring in the second event.

“We haven’t qualified as well in the second event, and that may be the difference,” Gordon said.  “When you’re ‘off’ just a little bit in qualifying, it’s tough to play catch-up in the race.

“Track position and pit strategy always seem to be part of the equation here. I’m sure it will be no different this weekend.”

Earlier this year, Gordon overcame ‘poor’ track position to finish fourth at Pocono.  He restarted 17th with only 28 laps to go and improved 13 positions before the end of the race.  Only 12 of those 28 laps were under green-flag conditions.

Gordon has gained a lot of momentum in the 49 days and five races since then, capturing two wins, four poles, four top-five finishes and leading the most laps three times.  His only hiccup during that span was a blown motor at Michigan while he was running second.

“We’ve had a good stretch of races here recently, and hopefully it continues this weekend,” Gordon said.  “We had a great car here in June, and we’re bringing the same car back for this event.  But that doesn’t guarantee we’ll be strong this weekend.

“Teams that didn’t do well here earlier may try something different or radical in their setup and hit on something.  We’ll probably review our notes and start with something similar, but we can’t rely on them and assume we’ll be good.  We have to be ready to adapt if we see we’re getting beat.

“Six weeks may not have changed the track’s characteristics.  But six weeks is more than enough time for the competition to become stronger.”

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