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Sunday a special day for Gordon

SONOMA, Calif. (June 15, 2010) – No matter the outcome of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Sunday will be a special day for five-time Infineon Raceway winner Jeff Gordon. Sunday marks the third time Gordon will celebrate Father’s Day as a father. That day is also daughter Ella’s third birthday, but the celebration with ‘Papa’ will have to wait.

“Unfortunately, (wife) Ingrid and Ella won’t be at the racetrack this weekend,” said Gordon, a native of nearby Vallejo. “But we’ll celebrate Ella’s birthday and Father’s Day next week.”

And celebrate a win? In 17 Cup starts, Gordon has certainly fared well at the California road course. He has three more wins than any other driver, is tied with Ricky Rudd for most top-fives (10) and is tied with Mark Martin for most top-10’s (13). The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet also has led 437 laps on the 10-turn track – 266 more than any other driver in NASCAR’s top division.

“With the success we’ve had here, this is an event we always look forward to,” said Gordon, who is the winningest road course driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history with nine victories. “And it’s always a fun weekend because I have so many family and friends in the area. “The track is one where you have to be aggressive, yet be smooth. And you really have to ‘get after’ some of the corners while not overdriving them.”

While Gordon will be busy shifting through the gears on the 1.99-mile track, crew chief Steve Letarte will be strategizing about what lap the No. 24 Impala will visit pit road for the final time. Since it is possible to pit without losing a lap, teams hope their final stop occurs before a caution flag waves – a huge advantage on the serpentine track.

“We know how far we can go on a run, but we’ll still push the envelope because we don’t want to get caught out by a caution,” said Letarte. “If teams have made their final stop before you and a caution waves, there’s a strong chance your restarting mid- pack or worse. And that’s a huge disadvantage.”

Sunday’s race also marks the first time there may be three attempts at a green- white-checkered finish on a road course. But the possibility of additional laps past the scheduled distance will not play into Letarte’s strategy.

“You can’t take that into consideration because other teams won’t,” Letarte said. “If we don’t have a green-white-checkered finish, then they have the advantage on you. We may have to adjust our strategy if we do have a green-white-checkered finish, though. A lot will depend on how close we think we are with fuel – and how close we are to the front. If we are running 15th, then we may pit for fuel in case we run well past race distance.

“If we are battling for the victory, though, it’s going to be hard for me to call Jeff onto pit road.”