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Testing At Homestead


CUTLER RIDGE, FLA. - - Jeff Gordon was among the dozen Winston Cup drivers testing at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday-Wednesday, October 16-17. Jimmie Johnson, Gordonís new teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, posted one of the quicker times in qualifying trim with a 35.75 second lap, which translates to 151.048 miles per hour. Most of the teams in the afternoon session focused on race setups and turned laps in the 37-second range, which translates to nearly 146 miles per hour.

Gordon was pleased with his team's progress at one of the few tracks he has yet to record a Winston Cup victory. He won last yearís Busch Series race at the track and is upbeat about his chances in this yearís Pennzoil 400.

"We seem to get it better and better each time we come here," said Gordon, who finished seventh last yearís Pennzoil 400 and 10th in the inaugural running of the event. "We certainly made big gains last year, especially running and winning the Busch race. We were running a whole lot better in the Winston Cup race. We were about a third or fourth-place car. We had a little trouble and did get a lap down. Itís hard to make up a lap at this place. Things are going well for us so far in this test. We feel pretty happy. Itís hard to compare. Tony Stewart has been so good here in the past, we would like to have him here testing and see how we stack up. But so far with the competition thatís here, we feel pretty good."

Gordon has been in championship form throughout this season. But he still believes that the title is not locked up. "We still have a lot of races left to go," Gordon said. "We do have a good points lead, but we got Talladega coming up this weekend. We survived Martinsville and now we have to survive Talladega which is easier said then done. Things have been going well and itís been a great year."

Gordon does admit heís far enough ahead in the championship standings that his Hendrick Motorsports team can be conservative in certain areas while still trying everything they can to win races and attain points. "I think that there are certain things that we can do that can be conservative but in a way that we still go out and perform well," Gordon said. "On the race track, Iíve got to still drive the same way I have all year long. When I see an opening that I feel like is going to advance me forward, Iím going to do it. When it comes down to two or four-tire stops, weíre going to do things that are going to help us win the race. But we can maybe get not so aggressive with the engine or the gearing that would cause a failure. We can do certain things that will keep us more in a conservative play but still get us the finishes we need. Right now, I still think we need those top fives and top tens."






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