HAMPTON, Ga. – Jeff Gordon is eyeing the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup, and that may mean denying one of four contenders his share of a $3 million Sprint payout.
Sunday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the final race of the Sprint Summer Showdown, and only Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch are eligible to win the million dollar prize for themselves and their charity of choice. A win by one of the four would also earn a fan up to $1 million.
“That would be pretty cool, but we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. “It’s a great program by Sprint, and I’m sure there will be additional excitement during the race – especially at the end if one or more of those drivers are battling for the win.
“But since we’re not racing for that bonus this weekend, our focus is on the bigger Sprint prize – the championship. Another victory would go a long way when the points are reset after Richmond.”
Following race No. 26 at Richmond, points will be reset for the 12 Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers with the top 10 earning three bonus points for each win accrued through that event. Gordon, who currently is tied for fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with two wins in 2011 (Phoenix and Pocono), can secure one of those Chase spots by finishing 40th or better in this Sunday’s event at Atlanta.
“I’m having so much fun right now,” said Gordon, who led a race-high 206 laps at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last weekend before finishing third. “We’ve been real competitive recently and I look forward to going to the track every weekend.
“I think this No. 24 team can do some damage during the Chase and make a run at this championship.”
But first is the lone stop at the 1.54-mile track this year. In 37 starts at the Georgia facility where he made his Cup Series debut in 1992, Gordon has four wins, two poles, 14 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s.
“This has been a great track for me, all the way back to my first race here,” Gordon said. “It’s real tough to get a hold of the track, but the thing I love is you can run up high against the wall or down low on the line.
“You can search for the line that works best for you.”