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Gordon Could Clinch ‘Chase’ Spot at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 20, 2004) – If Jeff Gordon wins the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, it would mark his 70th career victory at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series level and the seventh time he has won six or more races in a season during his 12-year career.

It could also guarantee a spot in NASCAR’s “Chase for the Championship.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolets, sits second in the NEXTEL Cup standings and trails teammate Jimmie Johnson by only 40 points. More importantly, Gordon holds a 471-point advantage over 11th place.

If Gordon pads his margin on 11th by 99 markers and exits Michigan with at least a 570-point cushion, he will be one of the 10 drivers battling for the championship during the final 10 races.

If he leaves Michigan with at least a 468-point lead over 11th—which he is guaranteed to do if he wins the event—he would only need to start the next three races to assure himself a spot in the “Chase.”

“That’s good to know, but not something we’ll concentrate on,” Gordon said. “Keeping track of other teams and how they’re doing is a distraction. We need to stay focused on what we can control, and that is our team and getting the best possible finish that we can.

“Right now, we’re only 40 points out of the lead. If we make the ‘Chase,’ we’ll be one of 10 teams within 45 points of the lead.

“That’s too many teams to keep track of, so we’ll concentrate on just one—the No. 24 DuPont team.”

In 23 starts at Michigan, Gordon has two wins, four poles, 14 top-fives and 16 top-10s. Earlier this year at the two-mile speedway, Gordon led 81 laps before an engine failure on the 88th lap relegated him to a 38th-place finish.

“The engine department at Hendrick Motorsports has been providing great engines with great power all year long, and a failure like that rarely happens,” Gordon said. “It was disappointing, but we bounced back from it.

“I love racing here because even if the car isn’t handling well, you can search for a line in the corners that works for you.

“And the great horsepower these Hendrick engines are producing down the straightaways doesn’t hurt, either.”

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