MARTINSVILLE, Va. – With four victories in six races during the early-to-mid 2000’s at Martinsville Speedway, Victory Lane became a common destination for Jeff Gordon at the paper-clip shaped track.
Can the seven-time Martinsville race winner return there Sunday? The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet has posted solid numbers at the 0.526-mile track. Along with seven wins, Gordon has seven pole positions, 23 top-five finishes and 29 top-10s in 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts. In fact, he has only four finishes of 12th or worse here in 19 seasons of racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“As you can probably guess, I’m really looking forward to the trip to Martinsville this weekend,” said Gordon, who is currently 16th in the standings and 57 points behind the leader. “It’s a short track with tight racing, so you have to be careful not to overheat your brakes and use up your equipment.
“It’s seems like all the things I’ve done over the years still apply and still work here. If you’re running well with a good car, you can drive away to hopefully avoid some of the wrecks and things you see that gets drivers into trouble. But we’re running inches away from each other, so anything is possible.”
Gordon enters the 500-lap event with 11 top-five finishes in his last 12 starts at Martinsville with the lone exception being a 20th-place finish last fall. He led 56 laps in that event but was involved in an accident with just a little more than 100 laps to go.
“We’ll try to learn from last time and try to figure out what we could have done better,” said Gordon, who has led 1,393 more laps than any other active driver here. “We’ll discuss what each car in our stable had in our setup – who was good and who was not – and try to break it down why.
“Although we won earlier this year at Phoenix, (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and I have only worked together for five races and a few tests. We’re still learning and our communication is always evolving. When we get to the track, hopefully I’ll provide the necessary information about the car so that he can make the right adjustments during practice and during the race.
“Because we’re capable of winning Martinsville this year.”