For all the success Jeff Gordon has had at Kansas Speedway, he is still missing one thing from his resume - a pole at the 1.5-mile track. This weekend's STP 400 may be the opportune time for him to start first. To finish first.
Following this event last year, the track was repaved with October's race being the first on the new surface. Gordon started 19th and briefly led before finishing 10th.
"There was a preferred line, but we were able to make some passes and use some pit strategy to run inside the top-five," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. "Track position was important and it may play a role again on Sunday. We'll do everything we can to get it.
"And keep it."
In 14 starts at the Kansas track, Gordon's two victories (2001 and 2002) are tied for the most while his eight top-fives are tops. But the track remains one of four where Gordon has never won a pole - Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway being the others.
"Qualifying well on Friday is obviously the best way to start with good track position," said Gordon. "It limits the amount of traffic you're in early and it also helps with pit stall selection since that is based on qualifying results."
Last Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Gordon's strong run ended early with a left-front hub issue. He fell from 12th to 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, but there are positives to be taken from the weekend.
"We ran well and led laps last weekend," said Gordon. "And the pit crew had great stops all night.
"Sure, we're frustrated with the result. But it's easier to take compared to running 25th like we did at Las Vegas."
The No. 24 team has made improvements since Las Vegas, but a challenge awaits them in Kansas.
"It's going to be tough with the new pavement and the new (Generation-6) car," said Gordon. "We are going to be challenged. The tires are extremely durable so that makes it very 'edgy.' I think we have made gains, so I'm confident we can make improvements when we get there.
"But we are really going to have to be on our game."