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Gordon gears up for Shootout, Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2010) – In 1984, the Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. That same year, Cale Yarborough won his fourth and final Daytona 500 – NASCAR’s “Super Bowl.”

Fast forward to present and Jeff Gordon has the opportunity to match that total in his “Super Bowl XVIII” – his 18th start in the season opener. A win also would move the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet into a tie with Yarborough for fifth on the all-time career wins list with 83. Plus, if Gordon secures the pole for “The Great American Race,” it would mark the 69th of his career – and move him into a tie with Yarborough for third all-time in NASCAR’s premier division.

In 34 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at the 2.5-mile track, Gordon has six wins including Daytona 500 victories in 1997, 1999 and 2005, three pole positions, 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. But the ‘game’ is much different since he won a qualifying race during Speedweeks in 1993 and finished fifth in his first Daytona 500 start.

“Daytona is a great track, and the Daytona 500 is a great race,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “And while the game has changed over the years as it relates to the draft, aerodynamics and horsepower changes, it’s still an event that I enjoy at a track that stands out.

“This event truly is our ‘Super Bowl.’ The history behind the race, what it takes to win here and what it means to win here makes a victory so special. I’ve been fortunate to win it three times. But I want to be really fortunate and win it again.”

This Saturday afternoon, a qualifying session will determine the front row for the Daytona 500, followed by the non-points Budweiser Shootout event. The 75-lap Shootout will provide a first-look at drivers self-policing their bump-drafting techniques on the high-banked Florida track since NASCAR loosened bump-drafting restrictions before the 2010 season.

“I believe we may have taken things a little too far with bump drafting, but I also love the fact that NASCAR is letting us race and just do the things that made our sport what it is,” said Gordon, a two-time winner of this special event.

“That race should be exciting, and I’m anxious to see how crazy it will be out there.” On Thursday, February 11, the finishing order from two 150-mile Gatorade Duels will determine starting positions 3 – 43 for the Daytona 500. Then, on Valentine’s Day, the Daytona 500 kicks off the 2010 season.

“I like that our season begins with our Super Bowl and the Daytona 500,” said Gordon, who holds the record for most restrictor-plate victories with 12. “It should always be an event that stands out, and I think the date, location and exciting racing allows it to. The Daytona 500 is the ultimate spectacle of NASCAR racing.”

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