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Gordon hopes for another smooth ride at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 11, 2009) - Jeff Gordon is looking forward to a smoother drive this weekend at Michigan International Speedway after taking a hard hit during Monday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

During Monday’s road course event at The Glen, Gordon was involved in a frightening accident when Sam Hornish Jr.’s race car slid into a tire barrier and spun directly into the path of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. The violent hit certainly did not help Gordon’s already aching lower back.

“My back is stiff today, but I’ll be fine and ready to go this weekend,” Gordon said Tuesday afternoon. “Luckily, Michigan is up next and it’s been pretty easy on my back in the past.”

In 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the Irish Hills track, Gordon has two wins, five pole positions, 16 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. In June, after starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change, Gordon finished second to teammate Mark Martin in the 400-mile event.

“We had a great car here in June and, after starting from the back, we were in position at the end of the race to battle for the win,” said Gordon, who is third in the standings. “We’ve performed well on the intermediate tracks this year, so we’re definitely looking at this race as one we can lead laps, run in the top five and hopefully be in contention for the win.”

In seven starts on 1.5-mile and two-mile tracks this year, Gordon has one win (Texas), four second-place finishes (California, Atlanta, Michigan and Chicago), one sixth-place finish (Las Vegas) and a 14th-place finish in a rain-shortened event (Charlotte).

While those solid finishes are the results of a team effort, the driver will play a crucial role during this Sunday’s 400-mile event.

“When it comes to qualifying here, the car means a lot, but the driver has to push hard,” Gordon said. “This is a big, fast racetrack, so aerodynamics, mechanical grip, attitude and horsepower are pretty key. But once you get into the race and the car is starting to move around and the groove widens out, then the driver’s role becomes greater. We’ll have to search around for the groove that works best for our car. We have to make things happen.”