LAS VEGAS (March 1, 2011) – A week after securing the win at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeff Gordon has another opportunity for redemption – this time in Sin City. Gordon, who will drive the familiar No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet during this Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had several “close-but-no-cigar” races during a winless 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
One of those occurred at Phoenix when he was unable to hold onto the lead during a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Last weekend, he exorcised those demons at the one-mile track with a commanding win – leading 138 of 312 laps to snap a 66-race winless streak. Las Vegas affords him another opportunity. In 2010, Gordon led 219 of 267 laps at the 1.5-mile track only to finish third.
“There were a couple races last year that we had a great shot to win and we didn’t capitalize on it,” said Gordon, who is fifth in the point standings and 15 behind points leader Kyle Busch.
“Whether it was spinning the tires on a restart or getting collected in a crash while having a fast race car, we just didn’t get it done at places like Phoenix, Las Vegas or Texas.
“But we had a really fast car last weekend and were able to get the win. And while we get to enjoy it for less than a week, we’re going into this weekend’s race wanting to win just as much.”
While the victory was his first with new crew chief Alan Gustafson, it marked Gordon’s 83rd victory and moved him into a tie with Cale Yarborough for fifth in all-time career wins. Another win moves him up another notch into a tie with racing greats Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.
“I hope we don’t have to wait as long to tie Darrell and Bobby as it took us to tie Cale,” joked Gordon, who has one win (2001), six top-fives and seven top-10’s in 13 starts at Las Vegas.
“Actually, I’ve already accomplished way more than I thought I ever would in NASCAR. “It’s not about where I rank on a list or who I might be compared to. It’s about the desire to win, though, and that desire remains strong in me and in this team.” And while he may not be the first one to look for it there, finding redemption in Las Vegas may just be a first for Gordon.