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Gordon, DuPont Team Saluting Soldiers at Daytona

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2004) – Jeff Gordon has chosen to accept the mission:  Winning his fifth NASCAR Cup Series championship with the No. 24 DuPont Motorsports team.

The “Drive for Five in ‘05” begins with NASCAR’s biggest event—the Feb. 20 Daytona 500.

Gordon is no stranger to winning at Daytona International Speedway.  Along with his Daytona 500 victories in 1997 and 1999, Gordon has three victories in the Pepsi 400, two Budweiser Shootout wins, two first-place finishes in the Gatorade qualifying races and an IROC Series triumph at the historic 2.5-mile speedway.

Last summer in the 400-mile Pepsi-sponsored nighttime event, Gordon led 61 laps from the pole en route to his second restrictor-plate win of the 2004 season.

“We had a great car and a great team effort that night, and it will take the same type of effort to win the Daytona 500,” Gordon said. “It will also take a little bit of luck.”

This year’s Daytona effort will once again be led by championship-winning crew chief Robbie Loomis.

“We need to get Jeff a third Daytona 500 win—bad,” Loomis said.  “We won the Pepsi 400 here last year and were in contention to win the Daytona 500 until the final (pit stop).

“We’re bringing a brand new car for the ‘500,’ and the Jeff Gordon Network held a contest in which members had the opportunity to name the car.  ‘Soldier’ was the name selected and I think it’s a great way to recognize all the men and women who are serving in the armed forces for our great nation.

“In sticking with the same theme, we decided to name the Shootout car ‘Veteran’ since it is a veteran car in our shop, and also as a way to say thanks to our veterans.”

Gordon knows it will be a battle, and limiting mistakes will play a crucial role in determining the 2005 Daytona 500 champion.

“It seems everyone has a shot at winning at these restrictor-plate events,” Gordon said.  “You don’t have to be perfect during the entire 500 miles, but it’s usually the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.

“Our plate program was good last year, and we had a good test down here in January in a new car we believe is better than what we used to win here in July.

“Winning the Daytona 500 would be a great way to begin our charge toward another championship.”

The ultimate goal of each team competing in NASCAR’s premier division is the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship, determined by the final 10-race “Chase.”  In the meantime, there are 26 races to determine who will vie for the honor—26 opportunities to solidify your place in the top-10 with trips to Victory Lane.

“Our goal each and every year is to win the championship, and to do that, we must first secure a spot in the top-10 during the first 26 races,” Gordon said.  “The best way to score points is to win, and that’s what we’ll look to do as we battle for a position in the Chase.”

During his rookie season of 1993, Gordon did not record a victory in a “points-paying” event and finished 14th in the point standings.  Since then, he has collected 69 victories—including a record-tying 13 wins in 1998—and posted 11 consecutive finishes of ninth or better in the final points rundown.

“This DuPont team consistently runs in the top-10 in points, so I feel we have a shot to win the championship every year under this new format,” Gordon said.  “It’s a lot harder to win the championship under the Chase format, but we think we can be there at the end.”

Mission: Possible.

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