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Jeff Gordon

"These first three races haven't gone as well as we had hoped." (Photo: Getty Images)

Jeff Gordon is hoping a return to his native California will be the trick in ending his long Sprint Cup Series winless drought when the Hendrick Motorsports driver tackles Sunday’s Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Gordon is still searching for his first win since taking the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway in April of 2009. The four-time champion can however take solace in the fact he continues to be one of the most consistent drivers in the series despite his being shut out of victory lane.

Gordon is ranked fifth in the championship standings and tied with Carl Edwards for best average finish in the first three Chase events with an average finish of 7.3. But he knows gains must be made.

"These first three races haven't gone as well as we had hoped, yet we are still very much in the thick of it," said Gordon, who comes into Sunday’s second visit of the year to ACS 58 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. "We're still very much in the championship hunt, and I think you have to keep yourself in it until Talladega or Martinsville. Those two are like our wildcard events, and you just have to see how those two events go."

The way Gordon sees it, once the Chase schedule reaches the midway point he’ll be able to better assess his team’s fortunes.
 
"You can take stock of where you are after that," he said. "Our game plan hasn't changed yet, though. Every weekend, we're trying to qualify well, trying to race at or near the front and trying to win. We're trying to get the best finish we possibly can and get the maximum amount of points possible."

Gordon may have his best shot in recent weeks of winning at the two-mile ACS.

In 20 career starts at the two-mile track, Gordon has three wins (1997, 1999 and 2004), two pole positons, and 10 top-five finishes (50 percent). In 2009, Gordon posted a pair of runner-up finishes here, and in February of this year, he led the event before a spark plug issue resulted in a 20th-place finish.

"We seem to run well here, and you have to have good power and good balance," Gordon said. "Right now, there's a lot of stuff going on around the garage with teams trying to run soft in the back versus stiff in the back. At a track like this, you can really experiment with it because the straightaways are so long and it's a big, fast racetrack.

"We're trying to get the spoiler out of the air a little bit and trying to work that balance out as well."

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