Gordon hopes to slip back into title contention at Atlanta
- Oct 21, 2008
- 24 Team
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 21, 2008) - Could Atlanta Motor Speedway’s ‘worn out’ surface give Jeff Gordon the chance to slip back into title contention?
Gordon, who is seventh in the standings and 275 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson with four races remaining in the 2008 season, has three top-five finishes and an average finish of sixth-place in his last six starts at the 1.54-mile track. Although he has visited Victory Lane on four occasions here, Gordon’s last win occurred in 2003.
“The track is worn out, so you’re slipping and sliding around – and that’s the type of track I feel we’re competitive at,” said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/Nicorette Chevrolet in the 500-mile event. “And while mile-and-a-half tracks haven’t been our strong point, I’m encouraged by how well we ran at Kansas and Charlotte.
“We’re constantly looking to get better, and I think we’ve improved our intermediate track program recently.”
At Kansas, Gordon battled through sickness to secure a fourth-place finish. Two weeks ago at Charlotte, Gordon led 47 laps—after hitting the wall twice in the first six laps—before finishing eighth.
“It’s been one of those years where, when we have the car, either I make a mistake or something bites us. When we have everything else going right, we can’t seem to get the car where it needs to be. I was disappointed at Charlotte because we had such a good car but I got into the wall, not once, but twice. And we were still able to recover to lead laps. Hopefully, we can be strong again—and I can stay out of the wall.”
Along with his four wins, Gordon has two pole positions, 13 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 32 starts at the Georgia track. His first start in NASCAR’s premier series occurred here 16 years ago, and it certainly was memorable.
“I can’t say it’s a good memory, but it sure was memorable,” Gordon said. “It was Richard Petty’s last race, and while I don’t remember much of what was said in the driver’s meeting that day, it was very unique. That day was all about Richard.
“I qualified 21st, and the car was fast but very loose on short runs. I pushed a little bit too hard and crashed. It wasn’t long after that I remember seeing Richard crashing out in a ball of flames. I was so naive and clueless back then as to what lie ahead.”
Four championships and 81 victories later with the same Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 DuPont team, Gordon will try to ‘slip’ in another victory at Atlanta.