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Gordon partners with National Guard to tame Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2009) –  The last time the National Guard was featured on the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet was in April when Jeff Gordon drove it to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend at Darlington Raceway, the No. 24 team will attempt to put the National Guard back in the winner’s circle—this time featuring the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program on the hood.  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race airs live this Saturday on FOX at 7 p.m. ET.

“We have a cool paint scheme for Darlington,” said crew chief Steve Letarte. “We are going to run the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard ESGR Chevrolet. We were very fortunate and got the National Guard into Victory Lane at Texas, so we’re excited to have them back on the car.”

Though Darlington has been deemed “too tough to tame,” Gordon has accumulated some impressive stats at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. In 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts there, Gordon has posted seven wins, 16 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s. He also has earned three pole positions and led a total of 1,604 laps. His average start at the 1.366-mile oval is 6.9, and his average finish is 11.5. Last year at Darlington, Gordon led 24 laps en route to a third-place finish. His last win there came in 2007.

“This is just going to be a fun weekend,” Letarte said. “We love going down there. It’s a track with a ton of history. It’s back to the Southern 500. It’s just not Darlington of old. The pavement’s changed, the track’s changed. It’s really an intermediate track, but we’ve had success at the intermediate tracks this year so we are really looking forward to going down there and get unloaded and see if we have the speed like we had last year.”

And Darlington is a great place for Gordon to pilot the ESGR program. In the last five events at the South Carolina racetrack, the NASCAR veteran has finished third or higher.  In an effort to help bring awareness to some of the National Guard’s initiatives this season, Gordon and the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet team will recognize the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program on the car this weekend.

“The National Guard offers some amazing programs that help the community in various ways and, this weekend, we are recognizing the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program on the hood of the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevy,” said Gordon, who currently sits atop the driver standings. “The men and women who are in the National Guard deserve recognition for their time serving our country, and it’s great what the National Guard is doing for them through this program.”

The ESGR is a Department of Defense initiative that seeks to develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. It does so by recognizing outstanding employer support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflicts through mediation. Please visit www.NATIONALGUARD.com/JeffGordon for more information on the ESGR program.

“Whether serving communities in times of need or defending our freedom abroad, we are thankful for the people in the National Guard that commit to that and allow us to have the freedom to do what we do in the race cars and entertain those fans,” Gordon said. “We certainly appreciate that very much. The National Guard has given a lot back and we’re going to give back all we can to them.”

After this weekend at Darlington, Gordon will partner with the National Guard at five more venues this season: Michigan International Speedway on June 14, Chicagoland Speedway on July 11, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Sept. 12, New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 20, and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 25.


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