While he believes Everybody Loves Richmond
because it is a great show, Jeff Gordon will need the breaks - and the brakes - to go his way during the Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 this weekend.
The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who was involved in an early multi-car accident at Talladega last weekend, is now second in the 2009 point standings - albeit only five points out of the lead - and hoping that he can continue the run of results that has seen him post top five finishes at each of the two short track events run this season.
In 32 starts at the three-quarter mile Richmond oval, Gordon has two wins, five poles and twelve top five finishes, but qualifying well - he has a start average of 7.8 - does not always guarantee success, as proven by the fact that he has finished 30th or worse in four of the five races that he started from the pole.
“I think everybody loves Richmond,” Gordon said ahead of a likely 555th start, “Any time you go to a track that has multiple racing grooves, it's something that all the drivers are going to like. And I think it's a great show for the fans because there's a lot going on and a lot of action. It's typical short-track racing, but there's multiple grooves.
“There were a couple of years [four races in 2005 and 2006 when his best finish was 30th
] when we struggled at this track, and a lot of it was with the brakes, but we seem to have that figured out, so we're looking at this track as one where we can have another strong finish.”
While Friday's on-track action for NASCAR's premier series ends with qualifying, it begins with adaptation.
“Things are constantly changing in the sport,” Gordon admitted, “As things evolve, you adjust what you've done in the past. You would think you run the same groove, the same line, and accelerate and brake at the same points, but sometimes that doesn't work and you have to change one or more of those. It's the same for the set-up. We'll probably start with something close to what has worked for us in the past but, if that isn't working, we move in a different direction.”