BRISTOL, Tenn. – For someone who ranks third on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 86 victories, Jeff Gordon desperately wants another.
The five-time Bristol Motor Speedway winner enters Saturday night’s race 16th in the point standings. Only three races remain before the 12-driver “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup” field is set, and it appears Gordon’s best opportunity to secure one of those spots is through one of two “wild card” slots. Those spots will be awarded to the two drivers with the most wins ranked No. 11 – 20 in the point standings after the Richmond event on September 8 – with the tiebreaker being points accumulated. In that “wild card” chase, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne currently holds the top spot with two victories while Gordon, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano are each searching for their second win of the season.
“It’s about wins for us now,” said Gordon, who is 30 points behind Newman for the final spot. “And we have three good tracks for us – Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond – to try and get another victory.”
Along with five wins at the 0.533-mile high-banked track, Gordon has five pole positions, 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 39 starts. But the top lane of the track has been “ground down” since the series last visited here in March, so a different racing surface awaits.
“I love what’s been done because I typically run a groove off the wall – I don’t run that top groove,” said the driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. “Our car works much better further down, so I don’t think it will affect us.
“The fans want to see excitement, bumper-to-bumper action and the drivers getting upset with one another. Eliminating that groove might help.
“I respect the fact that (Speedway Motorsports Chairman) Bruton (Smith) is being proactive. I applaud him for putting that effort into it and the money behind it as well, and I think it’s going to really pay off.”
And less track could just pay off for Gordon Saturday night.