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Gordon wants better than 'average' finish at Phoenix

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 7, 2007) -  With two races to go in the 2007 season, Jeff Gordon probably needs to be better than “average” if he is to capture the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Through eight of 10 “Chase” races, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has posted two victories, five top-fives and seven top-10s with his worst finish being an 11th-place finish at Dover. His average finish during those races: 4.6.

Despite that average finish, he trails Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson by 30 entering this Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Johnson, who has a 5.2 average finish in that same span, has posted three consecutive victories.

“You have to give credit to Jimmie and the 48 crew,” said Gordon. “They’ve made some good calls in the pits and they’ve had cars that can win.

“But 30 points isn’t that much. The biggest thing right now is we’re getting beat and they’re the ones winning the races. We have to put pressure back on them and out-perform them.

“They’re on a roll right now and we’ve got to answer this weekend.”

At Phoenix, Gordon has only one victory but that came earlier this year in the “Car of Tomorrow” debut at the one-mile track. Along with that win, he has also collected eight top-fives and 14 top-10s in 17 starts.

In fact, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has finished on the lead lap in 12 consecutive events at the Arizona track. A 12th-place finish in 2005 is his sole finish outside the top 10 during that stretch.

“Performance-wise, I think we have a little bit of an advantage over the 48 team here,” said Gordon. “But Jimmie’s tough here, and that team has shown they can step it up when they need to. It’s only a matter of time before he gets his first win here.

“The best way for us to make sure they don’t get that win this weekend is to be the first across the finish line.”

While Johnson may be in the driver’s seat, Gordon still controls his own destiny. If Gordon wins the final two races and keeps Johnson from gaining any additional bonus points for leading laps, Gordon will be celebrating his fifth championship.

“It’s hard for anyone right now to step up and beat them,” Gordon said. “We’re just going to keep playing it smart and being consistent—just keep doing the things we’ve done all year.

“If it comes down to being smart and staying out of trouble, I think we still have a great shot at the championship.”

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