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Gordon's good year could improve with Pocono win

LONG POND, Pa. (July 29, 2008) - It has been a good year for Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont. Although they lack that elusive win this season, Gordon is sixth in the driver standings and the No. 24 team ranks second with eight top-five finishes.

But it could always be better, especially with a win in this Sunday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Last Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon led seven laps and finished fifth in the caution-marred event. While the No. 24 team was competitive during the race, Gordon does not believe success at The Brickyard transfers to Pocono.

“I don’t think running well at Indy necessarily means you’re going to run well at Pocono,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala SS. “I hope I’m wrong, though, because we had a great car last weekend. Our first goal is to qualify better. We didn’t qualify well here last month, so an improvement in that department would certainly help our chances during the race.”

In June at the Pennsylvania track, Gordon started 38th and was second at one stage of the 200-lap event. A four-tire stop with 20 laps remaining put Gordon 27th, but he was able to gain 13 positions before the checkered flag waved. That event also marked the first time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series used the new car at the track. Additionally, a new strip of pavement had been put in the last corner.

“It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen,” Gordon said. “The preferred line used to be around the bottom or in the second groove. That strip of brand-new pavement is three grooves up in the corner, and it made it interesting.

“Pocono is a very, very challenging race track for this car.  It’s fast, flat and rough, it’s tough to get the car handling well over big bumps like that. Good track position definitely helps here.”

Gordon, who has two poles and an 11.6 average starting position at the triangular track, also has posted four wins, 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 31 starts. One of those wins occurred in 2007—aided by fuel strategy in the rain-shortened event.

But can Team DuPont take a risk at this point of the season?

“We’re sixth in the point standings, so we can’t make any big mistakes,” Gordon said. “First things first, we have to make sure we get into the Chase. And it would be nice to have the bonus points that go along with each win after the points are reset. It’s risk versus reward—if the checkered flag is in sight, you may take risks. You may try to make a move and go for the win.

“But you have to make sure you make it to the finish in one piece.”