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Gordon gears up for Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 4, 2009) - The are many keys to winning a race—or four—at Watkins Glen International. And one of those, according to a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is to not “wheel hop” into Turn 1 while leading with less than two laps to go.

Jeff Gordon, whose nine road course victories are the most all-time in NASCAR, is tied with Tony Stewart for most wins at the 2.45-mile New York track. Along with those four victories in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001, Gordon has collected two poles (1998 and 2003), six top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 16 starts. His 227 laps led are also tops for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen.

“Watkins Glen is a fast road course and you have to get up through the esses really well,” said Gordon, who is third—199 points behind leader Stewart—entering Sunday’s 220-mile event at The Glen. “You have to get through the carousel (turn) well, and you have to get into all the braking zones well.”

“And for me,” Gordon joked. “If I get out front, don’t ‘wheel hop’ getting into Turn 1 while leading with only a few laps remaining.”

That scenario occurred in 2007. After leading 51 laps during the 90-lap event, Gordon spun out entering turn 1 on the 88th lap. He recovered to finish ninth. Earlier this year at Infineon Raceway, Gordon and the No. 24 team battled back from a pit road speeding penalty to secure a top-10 finish on NASCAR’s only other road course. But the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet believes you approach the two tracks differently.

“Infineon is a finesse track, and you ‘attack’ Watkins Glen,” said Gordon, who celebrated a birthday on Aug. 4. “Good fuel mileage is important at the road course events, but it’s a lot trickier to get here because of the long straightaways. You have to run the straightaways hard, and you’ve got to have the power to get down them.”

Team DuPont tested in advance of the Infineon race, and it paid dividends at the first road course event. The reward may be greater this weekend.

“We tested at Road Atlanta and that helped us out at Infineon,” said Gordon, whose one win (Texas) is worth 10 bonus points provided he secures a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. “I felt we were more competitive at that event than we had been recently, and I feel what we learned during the test is even more valuable here. “We’re hoping that pays off for us this weekend because I’d love to have a few more wins – and the bonus points that go along with them – heading into the Chase.”