JOLIET, Ill. – If the next 10 races are like the last 10, Jeff Gordon could win his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Gordon won each of his four NASCAR Cup Series championships during season-long points battles, but he has yet to win one under the 10-race Chase format. However, he enters the 2011 version with momentum on his side.
“I haven’t felt like this in a long time, and I love the position we are in as a team,” Gordon said. “We led the most laps at Bristol (Tenn.), and we led the most laps and won at Atlanta. We definitely have momentum on our side. “I don’t feel that anybody has shown more strength than we have in the past 10 races.”
And statistics reflect that. Gordon has one win (Atlanta Motor Speedway), four top-five finishes and eight top-10s in the last 10 races. He has led 471 laps – 214 more than the nearest competitor – and scored 30 more championship points than his nearest rival during that span.
“We have some confidence right now, but we also know it’s going to be tough during the Chase,” said Gordon, who is now third in the standings and only three markers out of the lead since points were reset following race No. 26. “We have to step up our game and we know there are a few tracks we have to improve at.
“If we can do that, we have a great shot this year.”
In 10 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Gordon has one win (2006), one pole (2004), six top-five finishes and seven top-10s. But this year marks the first time the track has hosted a Chase event.
“I’m excited about starting the Chase in Chicago this year,” Gordon said. “This week, the Chase drivers are spread out all around the country going to different places to promote the Chase before we end up in Chicago for additional media opportunities. Then it’s off to the track.
“It’s a great track. It reminds me a lot of Kansas, and we ran really well there earlier this year. I’m excited about our chances at Chicago. The plan is to start off the Chase on a positive note.”
While Gordon will again be driving the familiar No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet at the Illinois track, gold ribbons will adorn the hood of the Impala.
“September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and, with the support of DuPont, the gold ribbon – a worldwide symbol for childhood cancer – will be featured on the car,” Gordon said. “That ribbon serves as a symbol for those children battling cancer, and a sign of support for parents and caregivers. And a memorial for lives lost.”