Gordon Eyes More Bristol Magic
By: Ricky Hamber on August 25, 2011 | 3:00 P.M. EST
Jeff Gordon has five wins, 14 top fives and 20 top-10 finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon has plenty of motivation as he prepares for the green flag to wave in Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In 37 starts on the .533-mile oval, Gordon has recorded five wins, 14 top fives and 20 top-10 finishes. From 1995 to 1998, Gordon won at least one of the two Bristol events each year, but hasn’t won since 2002 and the track reconfiguration in 2007 may be to blame.
“There was a groove -- a rhythm -- that I found on the old layout,” Gordon said. “I just haven’t found it yet in the new layout.”
With only three races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Gordon would like nothing more than to clinch one of the 12 playoff spots with a win this weekend at “Thunder Valley.”
Kyle Busch is the only driver to clinch a spot in the Chase so far with his fourth victory of the season last week at Michigan International Speedway and will be the man to beat again at Bristol. The series point leader is also a five-time winner at the Tennessee short track and has taken the checkered flag in four of the last five events there.
Along with Gordon, other drivers that could write their ticket to the 10-race playoff by winning this weekend are Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.
Gordon currently holds sixth place in the point standings and would be guaranteed at least a wild-card spot if he captures his third victory of the season on Saturday. He could also clinch a spot in the Chase if his 69-point lead over the 11th-place position increases to 97 points after Saturday’s race.
“Even though we have a little bit of a cushion, the focus hasn’t changed,” Gordon said. “The goal is to win each and every week.”
In the last 10 races, Gordon has earned more points than any other driver and advanced from 13th place to sixth during that span.
If he has another strong run this weekend in the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet and ends up in Victory Lane, Gordon would secure the final spot in the Sprint Summer Showdown.
“We have one more chance to earn a spot in the Showdown, and I really want to be the driver that wins a fan one million dollars in Atlanta,” Gordon said, “I think this is such a cool program by Sprint that is a great chance for a fan -- and a charity -- to win a million dollars.”
Along with Saturday’s winner, the drivers that will compete for the bonus at Atlanta on September 4th are Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch. If one of them wins at Atlanta, they will also take home one million dollars for themselves.
“The Bristol night race is just a completely different atmosphere,” Gordon said. “The intensity level may be even higher with the final Showdown spot on the line.”
At Bristol, Gordon has won five poles and his average starting position is 6.8. He will look to capture another pole on Saturday when qualifying for the 500-lap race begins at 5:10 p.m. (ET). The IRWIN Tools Night Race will follow at 7 p.m.