LOUDON, N.H. (September 14, 2010) – The 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup” begins with this Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) and Jeff Gordon believes a strength of the No. 24 team – consistency – could lead them to their first ‘Chase’ title and fifth championship overall.
Each of Gordon’s four title-winning seasons occurred during season-long points championships. The team’s consistency during those long campaigns played an important role, and Gordon believes that strength can also win a much shorter 10-race playoff.
“Consistency has always been one of our strengths which is why I think the old points system worked well for us,” said the 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001 Cup Series champion.
“And we’ll approach these 10 races with the same mindset. There are a lot of points to be gained and lost. “Sure, you’re trying to win each race, but 10 races is longer than many people realize. You want to make sure you get the absolute best finish you can each week and not put yourself into a position where you end up with a 30th- or-35th-place finish.
“Those are the things that allow you to put top-fives and top-10’s together to win championships.”
In 31 starts at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire track, Gordon has three victories (during championship seasons of 1995, 1997 and 1998), three poles, 14 top-fives and 17 top-10’s. Past performances at the track have Gordon enthused of a good start to the “Chase.”
“When I look at the 10 ‘Chase’ tracks, this is one of those that I feel we can have a really strong finish,” said Gordon, who will enter the event eighth in the standings and 60 points behind leader Denny Hamlin. “We tested recently at Milwaukee, and I believe that test will help us out this weekend.
“You don’t want to be in a hole after the first event.”
And a good effort on Sunday can be aided by a strong effort on Friday, according to the 82-time race winner.
“We’ve not qualified well recently, and that’s something we need to really step up in the Chase,” said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet in this weekend’s event. “A good qualifying effort leads to better pit stall picks and better track position at the start of the races. When we qualify well, we seem to perform better.”
While they still seek that elusive first win of the season, Gordon and company are eyeing more than just one. “We’re showing week in and week out that we’re a very, very strong team,” said Gordon.
“I still think we could have won three or four races up to this point – if not more – already this season. “And I can’t see why we can’t still win multiple races before this year is out.”