Jeff Gordon: "I've Always Enjoyed Racing Here"

Patti RodischAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2009

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Dupont/National Guard Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 11, 2009 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

For Jeff Gordon Richmond represents his team’s last chance to score 10 bonus points for the Chase for the championship.

Next week the points will reset and Gordon whose last win came at Texas in the spring is looking to start the Chase off with a little momentum.

This weekend is the first of back to back weekends carrying the National Guard colors this weekend they are running the Dupont/National Guard Wounded Warrior program.

Next weekend at Loudon he will be running the Guard colors.

"I'm proud to honor all the Wounded Warriors out there on our DuPont/National Guard Chevy this weekend at Richmond. It's great knowing the National Guard has a program in place that provides an injured or ill soldier with the proper medical and personal assistance they need to return to their families." Gordon said.

In May at Richmond when Gordon ran this same paint scheme he led 96 laps and finished eighth.

Richmond has been a good track for Gordon where he has an average start of 7.7, which is exactly where he will start on Saturday night, seventh.

Gordon has posted two wins, and 12 top five’s and 21 top 10’s in 33 starts at the .75 mile track. In his career has led over 1100 laps at this track. So Gordon knows his way around this track and knows how to get it done.

The National Guard car has brought Gordon some great finishes; he hasn’t finished outside the top five including his Texas win in April.

Gordon ran this same chassis at Martinsville, where he led 146 laps.

This weekend all the focus will be on the 10 drivers vying for the final spots in the Chase. Gordon who is locked into the Chase is focused on winning and that’s all.

“For us, it's about going after the win and the 10 bonus points that go along with it." Gordon said.

The benefit of being locked into the chase means they are not looking over there shoulder and not only can be focused on Richmond, they can also look forward in the chase and start game planning.

First thing first the team will be looking back at notes from Loudon in the summer. Gordon finished second in the rain suspended race.

Crew Chief Steve LeTarte thinks that Loudon could be a part of their success this weekend at Richmond and of course at Loudon next weekend.

“What we learned at Loudon should help us this weekend," said Letarte, referring to the rain-shortened New Hampshire Motor Speedway event won by Joey Logano. "We led laps and I thought we were real competitive.

"In turn, I hope what we learn this weekend carries over to the first race of the 'Chase' at Loudon." LeTarte added.

How you run at Richmond can equate to not only Loudon but tracks like Phoenix. The 24 team struggled at Phoenix earlier this year, but they have made gains on that program since they last ran there.

"Turns 1 and 2 at Phoenix are a lot like Richmond, and we struggled pretty severely at Phoenix earlier this year. Mark (Martin) won. He had a very good car. Jimmie (Johnson) had a very good car. We were OK, but we weren't as good as we expected to be. But from Phoenix to Richmond, we improved a great deal so we think we've learned some stuff from Richmond, and we're excited to apply that stuff to see if hopefully we can improve upon Phoenix." LeTarte said.

Gordon has had a decent car all weekend long he was in the top 10 in practice speeds for both practices. His fastest lap came in his final lap, of happy hour practice.

Gordon likes racing at Richmond and expects the racing to be at its best, especially with so much on the line.

"I've always enjoyed racing here, and I think the teams and fans love it, as well," said Gordon. "It's such a great short track event 'under the lights,' and the track has multiple grooves.

"It always seems to be a very competitive race with a lot of action and a few surprises. When you throw in so many guys battling for 'Chase' spots, there's going to be a lot of exciting things to watch."

It all starts this weekend and Gordon is hoping to be celebrating more than just a Chase berth on Saturday night.

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