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Gordon: The 'Lady in Black' still has bite

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 4, 2010) – Faster, smoother Darlington Raceway is not as treacherous as it used to be, but seven-time track winner Jeff Gordon knows “The Lady in Black” still can bite.

Gordon has fared well at “The Track Too Tough to Tame” during his 18-year NASCAR Sprint Cup career. Along with seven victories, he has collected three pole positions, 17 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 29 starts at the 1.366-mile track.

“This track used to be so tough because the surface was so abrasive,” said Gordon, who will drive a specially-painted No. 24 DuPont/ National Guard Chevrolet this weekend. “And you had to use a lot of finesse as a driver while dealing with the two very different ends of the track. “Now it’s smoother and it has more grip, but it’s still pretty treacherous because you run right up next to the wall. It’s still an awesome racetrack that is much faster now. And it can still bite you.”

Gordon has led 24 races here for a total of 1,610 laps. And leading is where he would prefer to be during Saturday night’s Southern 500.

“Track position is extremely important here because the track is so fast, and it’s so hard to pass,” said the five-time Southern 500 winner. “And you’re never going to have a perfect car or perfect setup. Both ends of the racetrack are totally different. That means you have to compromise as a driver and as a team with the setup. As a driver, you have to work around not having a perfect handling car and try to find the fastest way through the corners.”

The focus of the No. 24 team is being in contention at the end of race, and that means Gordon cannot pay too much attention to the competition.

“The track is starting to wear out a little bit, and you are constantly trying to get to the edge of the grip level,” Gordon said. “There’s just a small margin for error because you’re running so fast so close to the wall. If you focus too much on trying to out run the competition, then you’ll make a mistake. A lot of times if you just run a nice race and keep yourself out of trouble, you will end up towards the top.”