Gordon's Good at Martinsville, No Foolin'
After Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway, will it be Jeff Gordon for whom the bell tolls?
A relatively new tradition at Hendrick Motorsports is the ringing of the Victory Bell in each department following a win by one the organization's four cars. It's an experience the entire Gordon family enjoys when precipitated by a No. 24 team victory.
"I savor wins - probably more so today than ever," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. "And prior to last year, I hadn't rung the bell before so it was a new experience for me.
"My kids came to the shop to be a part of it, as well. The bell is so loud that they have to wear headsets, but they really seemed to enjoy being part of the experience. Everybody gets something after they ring the bell and my daughter loved handing out stickers to everyone.
"It's become a really cool tradition - one the whole organization has rallied around."
In 40 starts at Martinsville Speedway, Gordon has seven wins, 25 top-fives and 32 top-10's. He has been running at the finish in all 40 events, and the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has led 3,515 laps on the 0.526-mile track. Cale Yarborough tops that list with 3,784 - a difference of 269 laps. Gordon has led 269 or more laps at Martinsville three times, including pacing the field for 329 laps in this event last year.
Along with seven wins, Gordon also has seven poles at Martinsville - one off the track record held by Darrell Waltrip. Gordon has posted 20 consecutive seasons (1993 - 2012) with a pole, tying him with David Pearson for the most all-time.
"Qualifying well here definitely helps, and getting that first pit stall is an advantage on pit road," said Gordon, who is 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. "During the race, though, it's all about 'rhythm.' You try to get into a rhythm quickly to just knock off consistent lap after consistent lap.
"But traffic - which you encounter a lot of here - can disrupt that quickly. When you're around other cars, you have to change your line and change what you're doing in order to make a pass. It's important to jump right back into that rhythm that you had."
If successful for 500 laps Sunday, there may be a rhythmic ringing of a bell at Hendrick Motorsports next Tuesday.
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