FORT WORTH, Texas – Something else that is getting bigger in Texas? The groove at Texas Motor Speedway, according to Jeff Gordon.
It has been feast or famine for the driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet at the Texas track. In 23 starts, Gordon has one win (2009), two poles, eight top-fives and 11 top-10′s. He also has seven finishes of 25th or worse.
“Texas has been ‘hit or miss’ for me,” said Gordon ahead of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event. “I love the facility, and the track has matured over the years. The groove has really widened out compared to the first few races here.
“It’s become one of my favorite tracks.”
A widened groove certainly helped him in the April event. After starting 34th, Gordon had worked his way through traffic up to 10th by lap 94. The 86-time winner gained six more positions over the final 234 caution-free laps – including cutting a 15-second deficit to the leader nearly in half following his final green-flag pit stop.
“A lot has changed since April, and the setups are constantly evolving,” said Gordon, who is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings entering the antepenultimate race. “But I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race because of how we ran in that race and because of what we’ve learned since then.
“With multiple grooves, you can search the track for grip and you can move up through the field like we did here in the spring.
“But being out front is the preferred route.”
Leading is familiar territory for Gordon. During his 20-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, he has paced the field for 23,133 laps – one shy of tying Darrell Waltrip for sixth all-time. Of course, Gordon is just a scant 28,246 shy of matching Richard Petty’s total of 51,379.
“Those are the kinds of statistics that are hard to believe for me,” said Gordon. “It’s hard to believe I’ve led that many laps, much less grasp what Richard was able to accomplish.
“Much later in life, I think I’ll have a better appreciation for stats like that.”
Only one lap led is needed for Gordon to tie Waltrip. Only one lap led – the last one – is needed for Gordon to win his second event at Texas Motor Speedway.