Gordon Wants to Keep Riding Wave
- Sep 02, 2006
- 24 Team
FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2006) – It has been two and a half years since Jeff Gordon posted a top-10 finish at California Speedway, but the only multiple Cup race winner at the two-mile track enters this Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event riding a wave of momentum—a wave he wants to ride for the remainder of the season.
Gordon, who finished 34th at Pocono in June after hard impact with the Turn 1 wall in a single-car accident, exited that race 11th in the point standings, 501 behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
In the 10 races since, Gordon has posted two wins and five top-fives to move up to fifth in the standings, now 408 markers behind his teammate. But the four-time Cup Series champion has also faced some adversity during that stretch.
At Daytona, he was running in the top 10 with less than 10 laps to go when he was involved in a multi-car accident and finished 40th. In the Brickyard 400, Team DuPont fought back from three laps down to post a 16th-place finish.
Then at Watkins Glen, Gordon battled back from a late-race spin to salvage a 13th-place finish.
“I said at the beginning of the season that we weren’t the best team, but that I wanted to be one of the best teams by the Chase,” said Gordon. “I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’re getting closer every week.
“I’m proud of how this team has reacted to difficult situations. Instead of panicking, this team has remained calm when facing obstacles, and I think that’s the sign of a championship-caliber team.
“However, we still have work to do if we’re going to battle for a championship this year. We haven’t locked up a spot in the Chase, but that’s in our control. We just need to stay focused on our program—not on what the other teams are doing—and post two strong finishes at California and Richmond.”
In 12 starts at California Speedway, Gordon has three wins, one pole, five top-fives and five top-10s. His last win here occurred in 2004, and he has not posted a top-10 finish since that race.
“We had some engine issues in a couple of those races, but the Hendrick Motorsports engine department worked hard to correct those problems,” said Gordon. “In the last two races here, we just weren’t as good as we needed to be.
“I think we’ve made some huge gains in our intermediate track program since we last visited here, which is why I’m looking forward to this race.”
The chassis the No. 24 DuPont team will run this weekend has been used four times. It debuted at Michigan in June, where Gordon led 50 laps in the rain-shortened event.
At Chicagoland Speedway, it ended the event in Victory Lane. Two weeks ago, it crossed the finish line second at Michigan. Its only other start occurred at Indianapolis, where a sway bar arm became unhooked from the sway bar early in the race.
Although Gordon and Team DuPont recovered at Indianapolis to post a 16th-place finish, they failed to lead a lap and gain the five valuable bonus points associated with it—the only race in the last 10 they have failed to do so.
In fact, Gordon leads the series this season with 100 bonus points, 20 more than he accumulated during the entire 2005 season.
“I don’t care how many laps we lead in an event,” said Gordon. “I only want to lead the last one.
“It’s the same for the point standings. We don’t need to lead right now, we just need to get into the Chase—then have the lead after the final event.”