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Last Three Races Part of Gordon's 'Final Four'

 

JUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 5, 2005) - Beginning with this Sunday’s NEXTEL Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon has three consecutive opportunities to eliminate one—or more—from his personal Final Four.

Gordon, with 73 career wins to his credit, has victories at a record 18 of the 22 tracks currently on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule. But a No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has yet to visit Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway and the three remaining tracks on the 2005 schedule: Texas, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In nine starts at Texas, Gordon has four top-fives and four top-10s. His best finish at the 1.5-mile speedway was a second-place finish in 2002.

At the relatively flat one-mile Phoenix track, Gordon has posted five top-fives and 10 top-10s in 13 starts, with two third-place finishes in 2002 and 2004. In six starts at Homestead, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolets has three top-fives and five top-10s with a third-place finish in the season finale last year.

“We’ve run well at each of those tracks,” Gordon said. “Whether it’s been bad luck or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we just haven’t been able to pull off a win.

“We’d like to win one of these final three races, but our ultimate objective is to build some momentum and confidence so that we are battling for a championship in 2006.”

After struggling during the middle portion of this season and failing to make the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” Gordon and team shifted their focus to the 2006 season. New crew chief Steve Letarte took the helm with 10 races to go and posted his first victory at Martinsville, Va., two weeks ago. Last Sunday, Gordon finished second at Atlanta—his first top-five on a one-and-a-half or two-mile track since Las Vegas in March.

“We’re in 2006 mode right now, and we’re having a lot of fun,” Gordon said. “By not making the Chase, we were able to regroup and make changes. Not just personnel changes, but with the race cars, as well.

“We tested some of those changes at Atlanta and then followed that up with a strong run. Because we’ve struggled on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks this year, our second-place finish at Atlanta was more impressive to me than our win at Martinsville.”

Gordon currently sits 12th in the points standings, 42 markers out of the 11th-place position worth $1 million in the final standings.

“In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter where we finish in the standings if we’re not battling for a championship,” Gordon said.

“It’s all about championships for me.”

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