Gordon in Tight Points Chase Heading to Pocono
- Jul 22, 2006
- 24 Team
LONG POND, Pa. (July 21, 2006) – Jeff Gordon does not want to take another hit—on the track or in the championship standings—like he did last month at Pocono Raceway.
The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet was ninth in the standings and 428 points out of the lead when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series last visited the 2.5-mile track.
A brake rotor failure with less than 10 laps to go resulted in a violent one-car accident—a wreck that Gordon was fortunate to walk away from. He was not so fortunate in the standings, leaving the track 501 points out of the lead in 11th.
But Gordon bounced back, winning two of the next five races and leading at least one lap in each event. He has now accumulated 80 bonus points through 19 events this season, matching his total during the entire 2005 season.
The four-time Cup Series champion is once again ninth in points, and he now trails leader Jimmie Johnson by 447 entering this Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500. It is not his teammate that he is worried about, however.
Gordon is fighting for one of the guaranteed 10 spots in the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” and 12th-place Denny Hamlin is only 18 markers behind. In fact, third through 12th are separated by only 154—a gap that could be erased in one event.
“It’s definitely tight for those final spots into the Chase,” Gordon said. “I think Jimmie Johnson (first in points) and Matt Kenseth (second in points) are the only two who are comfortable right now.
“There are about 12 guys fighting for the last eight spots, and that’s too many to worry about. And we never want to focus on what they’re doing or where they’re running during a race.
“We must focus on things we can control, and that’s getting the best finish possible for us.”
In 27 starts at the Pennsylvania track, Gordon has three wins, two poles, 12 top-fives, 18 top-10s and one very scary accident.
“I’m very fortunate,” Gordon said. “NASCAR has done a lot to improve the safety of these cars over the years. The softer walls installed by the track certainly helped, as well as Hendrick Motorsports building me a fast but very safe race car.
“I don’t want to take another hit like that, but it’s reassuring knowing the safety standards are in place.
“And I definitely don’t want to take another hit in the point standings.”