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Chase berth available, but Gordon focusing on wins

 

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 18, 2009) - In Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon can clinch a spot in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by finishing sixth or better.

He is gunning for better.

Gordon, who enters the 24th event of the season with a 437-point advantage over 13th, can secure a berth if he leaves Bristol with at least a 391-point cushion over that position.

“We’re definitely in a good position, so we’re not focused on locking up one of those 12 spots,” said Gordon, who is currently second in the standings. “We’re concerned about trying to win races, getting a few more bonus points that goes along with the wins and getting better prepared for the Chase. But I’m sure the guys on this DuPont team would love to go into the off-weekend with a spot already guaranteed.”

No matter what occurs during the race, Gordon can clinch a spot with a sixth-place finish or better—something he has accomplished in 17 of his 33 starts at the .533-mile track. If he earns the five bonus points for leading at least one lap during the event—as he has done in 25 events at the Tennessee track, Gordon only needs to finish seventh or better to earn that spot in the Chase. And if he leads the most laps like he has done on seven occasions here, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion only needs to finish eighth or better.

While those scenarios earn him a spot in the Chase, only one position—first – earns him 10 additional bonus points heading into the final 10 races.

“I think we have made some real progress the last three times we’ve raced here,” said Gordon, who has five wins, five pole positions, 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s at Bristol. “It seemed like we went through a number of changes here in only a few years.

“We had to adjust to the new car here, and we had to adjust to the changes in the track. But we’ve made progress, and I hope we have made even more progress so that we’re a threat to win the race.”

The tight confines of racing side-by-side on the high-banked short track can lead to bent sheet metal and, appropriately, the Web site for DuPont’s Performance Alliance (www.PA24.com) will adorn the decklid of the No. 24 Chevrolet during Saturday night’s event.

Gordon’s No. 24 crew can handle tough situations, but he hopes body work is not needed on his Impala SS during or after the 500-lap event.

“I love this track, and I love the changes they made to it a few year’s back,” Gordon said. “But it’s still a tough short track where you are constantly battling for position or battling traffic – and you can easily get swept up in somebody else’s accident. Hopefully, we’re not one of the teams visiting the Web site after the race searching for a trusted body shop.”

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