FORT WORTH, Texas – Texas Motor Speedway may not be one of Jeff Gordon’s best tracks statistically, but, having led 34 percent of the laps in the last two races, it would not be surprising to see the brightly painted No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet at or near the front during Saturday night’s 334-lap race.
In those two events, Gordon has led 229 of a possible 668 laps with one win (2009) and an early exit due to a late-race multi-car accident last year. In the past two fall events, he has led only 11 laps with a 13th-place finish in 2009 and a did-not-finish last year.
“We haven’t always run well at Texas, but I am cautiously optimistic heading into the weekend,” said the 83-time NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner. “The differences in our performances in the spring and the fall races recently is probably just different weather and track conditions at that time of year.”
Overall, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has that lone victory, two pole positions (2008 and 2009), seven top-five finishes, nine top-10s and 581 laps led in 20 starts at the Lone Star State track.
But while the facility has not changed much since the inaugural race in 1997, the track has changed a lot.
“This track has always been one of the premier facilities – if not the premier facility,” Gordon said. “There is no other place like this, and it has really turned into a fantastic track. When we first came here, it was a really, really challenging racetrack. It was fast and the transitions were really abrupt, and it was hard just to stay out of the wall.
“But as the surface has worn and as we’ve gotten the cars handling better, it’s become one of the premier tracks. The racetrack itself has come into its own and made great racing with the groove widening out. It seems like it gets better every time we come here.”
Just like the track seems to improve with each visit, Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson hope the No. 24 Impala performs better on this return visit.
“Alan, the team and I have talked about this weekend’s race,” Gordon said. “And we’ll have more discussions before this weekend. “But, right now, I feel good about our plan for Texas.”