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Big Money and High Stakes


Jeff Gordon has won twice on the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway. His last win at the 2.66-mile tri-oval came in Aprilís DieHard 500, even though he started from the 36th position. "Thatís why fans love this place," Gordon said. "We had the 36th fastest car on the track in qualifying, but when the green flag dropped I was as good as anybody else."

Should Gordon win the Winston 500 on October 15, he'll pocket a $1,000,000 bonus as part of the No Bull Five program. Gordon last won the bonus in the 1999 Daytona 500. He became eligible for the bonus this time around by winning at Richmond in September.

To prepare for Talladega, Gordon had a two-day test session at the track in early October. The majority of testing at Talladega has concerned the new rules implemented by NASCAR for the Winston 500. Gordon, who drove in the Daytona test that culminated in the new rules, said the changes may create more side-by-side racing. "Iím not sure how much this will affect this place. Talladega is already a drag race," Gordon said. "We already go three- and four-wide around here, sometimes 60 laps at a time, and do all that crazy stuff we do. Itís just a lot of fun."

Gordon said the Daytona test did indicate drivers may feel a few changes once the green flag drops, although qualifying speeds may be the same as in April. "The first thing is that you definitely can close up on the cars faster," Gordon said. "You can get a run on someone and get by them." The other thing Gordon learned is that leading that last lap on Sunday in the Winston 500 may not be the right move. "I think with these changes, leading may not be the place to be on the last lap," Gordon said. "It might bring about that sling-shot deal. The place to be may be three or four back."

In the Daytona test, with 11 cars on the track for a 25-lap mock race, Gordon said he was leading the last lap by about four car lengths heading into Turn 4. "But by the end of the deal I was about eight back," he said. "So I donít know about leading that last lap."

If he can win the Winston 500 he would be the fifth driver to accomplish the sweep at Talladega, joining Pete Hamilton, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt.


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