Hendrick Motorsports

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Ever-changing set-up key for Team DuPont at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 10, 2008) - The new car setups have changed drastically since Jeff Gordon first tested the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala SS at Michigan International Speedway in August of 2006. In fact, the setups have evolved considerably since February of this year, according to crew chief Steve Letarte.

In the second race of the 2008 season at “sister” track Auto Club Speedway in California, Gordon led 68 laps en route to a third-place finish. Letarte believes that setup will not work during this Sunday’s Lifelock 400 at Michigan.

“It probably won’t work for two reasons,” Letarte said. “One, we’re using a completely different tire compound than we ran at California. Two, the setups have changed so much in only a few months time. It’s a fine line you have to walk, and sometimes we are stubborn to change. If a setup works extremely well one year, sometimes you are hesitant to move too far away from it. Other teams may be trying different setup combinations, and, if they hit on something you can quickly find yourself playing ‘catch up.’ “Some setups that worked well last year can be average at best this year.”

Gordon, who is currently eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings, hopes the No. 24 team can find the right combination for a third victory at the track located in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Along with his two wins, Gordon has recorded five pole positions, 15 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 30 starts. He is also one lap shy of 900 laps led.

“From a driver’s perspective, this has always been a great track to race on,” Gordon said. “It is wide with a number of grooves we can race on in the corner. This will be our first time here with the Impala in race conditions, and so much has changed since the first time I drove the car here in 2006. We’ve learned a lot and have come a long way with the setups.”

The learning process is never-ending, and the No. 24 team is working hard to find the right combination for its driver.

“We saw some things at Pocono last weekend that we want to try, so Team DuPont is heading to Nashville this week to test,” Letarte said. “We don’t want to wait until race weekend to see if they work.

“We’ll take the same car we used at Pocono to Nashville, and the crew has been working 16-to-18-hour days to get the car turned around and ready. We’ll use the same tire that we’ll run in Michigan. “Hopefully, we learn some things that will benefit us this weekend.”