TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 26, 2010) – The plan is to visit Victory Lane following Sunday’s Amp Energy Juice 500, and there are several different ways to get there. While a pre-race game plan may be formulated, six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Jeff Gordon believes a willingness to adjust it during the event may be a factor in determining the race winner.
Multi-car accidents – known as the “big one” – often occur on restrictor-plate tracks since drivers race in tight two, three, four and sometimes five-wide packs.
Gordon is the all-time leader in restrictor-plate victories with 12, so he has avoided his fair share of those accidents – and there are several ways to do that.
One is to race up front – in or near the lead – and be ahead of any accidents that occur. But there is the chance of being ‘shuffled’ out of the lead straight into a hornet’s nest of activity.
Another theory is to race well behind the main pack – out of harm’s way – and watch the “big one” unfold ahead. At some point, though, a driver will need to enter the mix and battle his way into contention. Gordon’s strategy for this weekend’s race has yet to be determined.
“The plan is to win – and whatever strategy works for that is the one I want to use,” said Gordon, who has 11 top-fives and 16 top-10’s in 2010. “More than likely, we won’t be laying back and just riding around.
“You have to be willing to adjust as you go, though. You never know how the race is going to play out, so it might be necessary to drop back out of the lead pack at some point.
“But laying back is not in the pre-race game plan.”
Gordon has won at Talladega using both strategies. In 2005, Gordon led 139 laps en route to the win while, in 2007, he led one lap – the last one – on the way to Victory Lane. Overall, the 82-time winner has six wins, one pole, 13 top-fives and 16 top-10’s in 35 starts at the 2.66-mile track.
“I like Talladega a lot,” said Gordon, who is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and 203 behind the leader. “I look at it and know what to expect and accept it. I’ve won there enough times to have great memories.
“But you’re running so close to one another that it just takes the slightest little bobble by one guy and 10, 12, or 15 cars are in an accident. That’s the part about Talladega that’s not fun. I think we have a great shot at a top-five if we survive the ‘big one.’
“Or a couple of ‘big ones.'”