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Team DuPont wants to reign another short week

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2007) – Rain is an inconvenience to the fans, drivers and teams, but Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont have reigned the “short” weeks in 2007.

Michigan’s Tuesday race marked the fourth time a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race was not run on its scheduled date this year. Two previous times the interrupted week led to a Gordon victory.

The first came after rain postponed the May race at Richmond, when Gordon went on to win the following weekend’s event at Darlington. The second occurrence followed the rain-postponed event at Dover when Gordon went on to score a victory in the rain-shortened Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway the following weekend.

Now, following a two-day, rain-delayed race at Michigan this week, Gordon hopes for the same result by winning Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Rain has played a factor in some events this season,” Gordon said. “It’s an inconvenience to the teams, but I really feel for the fans.

“I was amazed at how many hung around until Tuesday in Michigan. That just shows how passionate our fans are about this sport.

“But while it interrupts our schedule, it puts a premium on being prepared at the shop. And my crew chief Steve Letarte has done a great job ensuring that this DuPont team is well-prepared.”

Victories are now the key objective for Team DuPont with only three races remaining until the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup” because seeding for the Chase is based on number of wins through race No. 26.

If the Chase began today, Gordon would be tied with teammate Jimmie Johnson for the points lead as each driver has four victories this season. Gordon hopes to break that tie this weekend in Bristol.

“We are going out there each weekend to get those bonus points,” Gordon said. “We really don’t care where we finish, unless it’s first. I’d rather be ahead by 10 or 20 points than tied.

“Since we’re locked into the Chase, it doesn’t matter if we’re first or fifth in points. We just need to get as many wins as we can in the next few weeks.

“Anything can happen in the Chase, and bonus points could be the advantage we need to make a run at the championship.”

Gordon also hopes to break a tie of the five victories that he shares with Kurt Busch for wins among active drivers at the .533-mile track. In 29 races at Bristol, Gordon has scored 12 top-fives and 18 top-10s with an average finishing position of 11.48.

Gordon has five poles and average start of 5.1, the best of any driver in both categories who are scheduled to race in the NEXTEL Cup event at Bristol this weekend.

However, those statistics are from achievements made on the old concrete track. Following the spring event this season, Bristol’s concrete was torn up and resurfaced for the first time since 1992. Another milestone occurred before the start of the spring event at Bristol, the first Car of Tomorrow race in NASCAR history.

“We learned a lot about the CoT and how it reacts with the track during the last race here, but it’s going to be a whole new learning curve this time around,” said Gordon. “Hopefully, we’ll find the handle on the new surface pretty quickly during practice on Friday, run strong during the event on Saturday and be in contention for the win at the end.”

Which could mean the reign continues.