RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond International Raceway has been the site of two of Jeff Gordon’s 87 career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories. And one very memorable runner-up finish.
Last September at the three-quarter-mile track, Gordon entered the last race before the 12-driver “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup” field was set on the outside looking in. He qualified second, but then fell nearly two laps behind the leaders just past the halfway mark of the 400-lap race. Gordon and the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team battled back onto the lead lap, though, and into the Chase field with a spirited runner-up finish.
“That certainly was memorable – probably my most memorable second-place finish,” Gordon said. “We struggled early but regrouped during the rain delay and never gave up, fighting all the way to the checkered flag. That never-give-up attitude is what I love about this team.”
Gordon has faced adversity again this year. A strong performance at Bristol ended with a heavily damaged No. 24 Chevy SS while a top-three run at Texas ended early with a left-front hub issue. Despite those poor results, he is still 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings eight races into this season – a position he did not attain in 2012 until after race No. 20 at Indianapolis.
“We’ve made some gains with the Gen-6 car – especially on the intermediate tracks,” said Gordon, who started 43rd at Kansas last weekend and finished 13th. “But I’m really looking forward to running this Chevy SS on a short track this weekend.”
Along with two wins at the Virginia track, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has five poles, 16 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s in 40 starts. Gordon has a 7.9 average starting position and he has led 1,415 laps – both tops among active drivers at the short track. However, bettering those numbers will require some guessing.
“When you practice during the day and race at night, you have to guess,” Gordon said. “And I feel like every time we race here something is changing. I feel like we are advancing the technology of the cars – gaining more downforce and gaining more mechanical grip. You are always trying to figure out what combination is going to work best for the night race.
“We’ve been very successful three out of the last four times here, but we also missed it big one of those times. Our goal is to find that right balance.
“And make sure we don’t miss it big.”