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Winning The Mental Race



HARRISBURG, N.C.- - To win a Winston Cup race, it helps to have a faster car than the rest of the field. However, the mental aspect of racing is often overlooked. It usually means the difference between a victory and a finish outside of the top five. A driver must make the right decisions at the key times in the race. Otherwise, the driver will have a great car.. but a lackluster finish.

Jeff Gordon feels that his improvement in the mental aspect of racing has allowed him to remain on top of one of the world's most competitive racing circuits. "I feel like I'm a smarter driver today than I used to be," Gordon said. "I used to just push the pedal down and wherever it took me, I followed." However, he has learned that the best strategy is one of patience. "Now I try to push the pedal down where I want to go," the defending champion said.

"Each year I want to be a little more patient. You need to be aggressive at times, but you need to know when to be aggressive and when to be patient," he said. After winning the 1995 Winston Cup title, Gordon won ten races in 1996 but failed to capture the Winston Cup title. However, he came back with another ten win season in 1997 and won his second title.

"I don't think this year we're expecting to win ten races or more than ten races, or eight or nine poles. That's not what it takes for us to have a great year. What makes it a great year is to win that championship. That's what our mind is set on."

At the midway point in the 1998 season, Gordon leads the points standings in his quest for his third Winston Cup title. Horsepower and handling are a great advantages in a race, but drivers must also win the mental race. Seems like Jeff Gordon is ahead on both fronts.



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