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Homestead to culminate 'incredible' year for Gordon

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2007) -  No matter the outcome of Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 2007 has been a year to remember for Jeff Gordon.

Gordon, who enters the season finale 86 points behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, has captured six victories and seven poles with a 7.4 average finish through 35 races. His 29 top-10s are six more than any other driver, and a 30th top-10 finish this weekend would set a record for most top-10s accrued during a season since NASCAR’s schedule reduction in 1972.

Off the track, Gordon celebrated his first wedding anniversary to Ingrid Vandebosch last week. Vandebosch also gave birth to the couple’s first child, Ella, on June 20.

“With the wins, with the type of on-track performance we’ve had and being a new father, this has just been an incredible year for me,” said Gordon. “I’d like nothing more than to add a championship to it.

“But, if we win it, it’s going to be because Jimmie and the 48 team has problems. And while we’ll accept it, we don’t want to win the championship that way.”

In the first three editions of the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” average finishes of 8.9 (Kurt Busch, 2004), 8.7 (Tony Stewart, 2005) and 10.8 (Jimmie Johnson, 2006) were posted by that year’s champion. But crew chief Steve Letarte believed a stronger performance was needed to capture this year’s title.

“I thought a 5.0 average finish during the 10 races would guarantee a championship,” said Letarte. “We’re sitting at a 5.2 right now, and we’re behind.

“We could hit our goal with a strong performance this weekend and still lose the championship. That just shows the level of competition in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series today.”

In eight starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gordon has three top-fives and six top-10s, but it remains one of only two tracks where Gordon has yet to win a Cup Series race (Texas Motor Speedway is the other).

“We’ll do everything possible to finish on a high note,” Gordon said. “We want to run well, put pressure on the 48 team and hopefully get the win because it’s a track that has eluded us.

“The 48 team deserves a lot of credit. They have stepped up their game during the Chase and destroyed the competition these last four weeks.

“So far, they’ve done the job needed to win the championship. I thought this was our year but, the way things have been going lately, I don’t think it is.”

Whether or not it is Gordon’s year to win the championship, it sure has been a “better than average” year for Ella’s father.