Gordon Eyes Sixth Pocono Win
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on June 8, 2012 | 2:36 P.M. EST
"There really is no comparison from last year to this year because nothing compares to a repave." (Photo: Getty Images)
Gordon has gone to victory lane five times in his career at the 2.5-mile triangular track and despite the new racing surface that awaits competitors in Sunday’s Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR, he believes the same principals of performance will hold true.
"No matter what, we'll face similar challenges just because the shape and the banking of the turns haven't changed, " said Gordon. "The grip level and the smoothness of the track will determine how aggressive we can be getting the car 'sealed' down to the race track."
However Gordon, who is the defending race winner and came home sixth in last year’s second Pocono race, also admits that while some things may still apply, there will still be a great unknown in play this weekend.
“There really is no comparison from last year to this year because nothing compares to a repave," said Gordon. "We'll probably have very little in our setup this weekend compared to what we ran here last year.
"Even if the track didn't change, Goodyear could bring a different tire. If we used the same tire, a year-old setup still probably wouldn't be fast enough - even if you dominated the race the previous year. The sport evolves that much every year."
The Hendrick Motorsports driver took part in the two day open test session earlier this week that allowed teams to dial in their cars for Sunday’s race. The regular weekend practice sessions begin on Friday but even with those additional laps around the track prior to Sunday’s race, Gordon believes it will take more time to truly get a sense of what’s in store on the new surface.
"We need more laps, more cars on the track racing side-by-side," said Gordon. "I wish there were more races this weekend, because the groove is pretty narrow right now. With testing we're all running by ourselves and that's what makes that narrow groove.
"Until we get out there in the race and start to widen the groove, we won't really know what it's going to be like. It's always nice to know when the grip level is good, and all we really need is that groove to get wider and we'll put on a great race. I hope that happens this weekend."
Gordon also hopes the disappointment he’s dealt with through the opening 13 races of the regular season will disappear. The four-time series champion finds himself 21st in the point standings and realistically a wild card berth may be his only option to make the Chase.
In order to do that Gordon needs to win races and starting Sunday in Pocono is as good a time as any.
A sixth career Pocono victory would come in the track’s first 400-mile race as 100 miles have been shaved from both Sprint Cup races in 2012. Gordon applauds that decision and thinks it will lead to a better product for drivers but more importantly the fans even if some specifics are still a mystery.
"I think a shorter race at Pocono is going to be a better race and a more exciting race," said Gordon. "We'll have fewer laps, so I don't know how that will change strategy for the race."