Guessing Game Facing Team DuPont at Richmond
Two-time track winner Jeff Gordon enjoys the twice-yearly trips to Richmond International Raceway, but that does not mean the short track is short on challenges it presents NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.
"I love Richmond, and I don't know of another driver that doesn't like this track," said Gordon, who is 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and 61 points behind the leader. "But it is a very challenging short track.
"One of the keys to going fast here is getting the DuPont Chevrolet to turn the middle of the corner. But it's tough to get the car to turn the middle without getting the car too loose in and too loose off."
Another obstacle facing the teams is changing track conditions. The green flag for the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 is scheduled to be waved just past 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday night. With the sun setting approximately 30 minutes later, a trip to Victory Lane may come down to a guessing game.
"It's tough trying to guess what the track is going to do from day to night," said Gordon. "The track will change a lot from the start of the race to the end, so we'll need to keep up with those changes. "
Good communication throughout the race is needed to keep up with - or stay ahead of - those changing conditions."
Along with wins at the Virginia track in 1996 and 2000, Gordon has five poles, 14 top-fives and 23 top-10's in 36 career starts. In his last eight starts here, he has four- top-five finishes and no finishes worse than 12th.
"I feel our short track program is pretty solid, so that's another reason for us to look forward to this weekend's race," said Gordon, whose 1,402 laps led at Richmond is tops among active drivers. "But to win here takes the same thing it takes to win anywhere else.
"You need a fast race car, to be in the right place at the right time, good pit stops, good strategy, good communication and tuning the car to keep up with the changing conditions of the track. If you do all those things, you hopefully will be in contention with the checkered flag in sight."
Gordon is one of seven different winners during the first eight races of 2011, but who wins this Saturday night? Your guess is as good as mine.
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