CHARLOTTE, N.C.(October 11, 2011) – Similar lengths. Similar layouts. Different tracks, but similar results? Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team are banking on it.
Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits the 1.5-mile quad-oval Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500. NASCAR’s most recent trip to a quad-oval occurred in September at Atlanta, and Gordon held off hard-charging Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson there to secure his 85th victory. The win also moved Gordon into sole possession of third all-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup career victories.
But while Atlanta and Charlotte are similar in length and layout, there is a distinct difference. “The surface here is quite a bit different compared to anywhere else we go,” said Gordon. “This is a big, fast, high-banked track, but it has a ton of grip – more so than Atlanta.
“That’s why running well at one doesn’t exactly mean you will run well at the other.” In 37 starts at the Charlotte track, Gordon has five wins, eight poles, 16 top-fives and 20 top-10’s. Charlotte is also the site of his first Cup Series victory (1994) and first Cup Series pole (1993).
“Winning my first race was definitely special,” said Gordon.
“Winning a Cup race is what you dream of doing as a race car driver. “To achieve it was huge.”
Now, 17 seasons later, he is looking for No. 86. “We’re definitely looking to win races now,” said Gordon, who is 10th in the standings – 47 points out of the lead – after an engine issue at Kansas relegated him to a 34th-place finish. “We aren’t out of the championship discussion, but a lot is out of our control.
“Our focus now is on leading as many laps as we can and winning as many races as we possibly can. “Then we’ll see where we stand after a few more races.”
On Saturday night, will Gordon be standing in Victory Lane much like he did in Atlanta?