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Gordon brings Pepsi Max scheme to Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 23, 2010) – Despite two sub-par finishes in the first two events of the 2010 season, Jeff Gordon has been happy with the speed of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet during the races at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway.

This Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a strong run – coupled with a strong finish – could give the No. 24 team ‘Max’ points. Gordon, who will drive a specially painted DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet during the 267-lap race, led two laps in the season-opening Daytona 500 before a last-lap accident left him 26th in the final order. Last Sunday at Fontana, he moved up from his 28th starting spot to pace the field for 11 laps before a spark plug issue relegated Gordon to a 20th- place finish.

“We’ve had fast, competitive cars in the first two events – we just don’t have good finishes to show for it,” said Gordon, who is tied for 21st in the point standings, 133 behind leader Kevin Harvick. “But good finishes will come if we keep running near the front.”

In 12 career starts at the Nevada track, Gordon has one victory (2001), five top-five finishes and six top-10s. Along with the highs, there have been lows – including a frightening accident on the backstretch in 2008. But the return visit in 2009 netted a sixth-place finish with 17 laps led.

“I’ve always loved coming here because it’s such a cool event in such a great city,” said the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. “And it also seems to be one of the more popular events for the fans.

“We’ve had some strong runs here recently including last year when I had fun battling for the lead with Jimmie (Johnson).”

Following a sixth-place finish in that event, Gordon stood atop the point standings – a lead he held for 10 of the next 11 races. He believes the No. 24 team was the strongest at that point in the season, but championships are decided in the final 10 races and not the first 10. “I really feel like we were the best team early in the season last year,” said Gordon. “But that’s not when championships are won. “Sure, race wins – and the bonus points that come along with those wins – can be a tremendous help during the Chase. But we’ve worked hard over the off-season to try to become better in the final 10.”