Monday, June 18, 2012

Gordon Looks To Sonoma For 2012 Turnaround

It’s been a week of celebrations for Jeff Gordon. Unfortunately, none of them involved hoisting a trophy in Victory Lane at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Sonoma has been good for Gordon
Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon captured the 400th Top-10 finish of his career in the Sprint Cup Series. He celebrated Father’s Day with his children – albeit a day late after Michigan’s green flag was postponed by rain Sunday morning – and he will celebrate daughter Ella’s fifth birthday on Wednesday. 

The four-time series champion hopes to add one more party to the schedule this weekend with a win on the road course in Sonoma, California. 

Gordon will head to the left coast Thursday to begin preparations for this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350, where he will attempt to become the first driver to reach double digits in road course victories. 

"It will be a busy but fun week," said Gordon, a native of nearby Vallejo, Calif. "We'll have some fun with Ella's party before heading out to an area I love for so many reasons. It's 'home' for me and where I was born, so a lot of family and friends will come out to the track. I love the wine country, too, which is one of the reasons why I have (the Jeff Gordon Collection Wine).  

"And that track has been great to us." 

Gordon leads in virtually every performance statistic at the 1.99-mile track. In 19 starts, his five wins are three more than any other driver. He also ranks first in poles (five), Top-5 (12) and Top-10 finishes (15), as well as laps led (437). In fact, Gordon has eight more Top-5 than any driver scheduled to compete in Sunday's race and he has led 266 more laps than anyone else at Sonoma. 

"(The track) is very challenging," said Gordon, who is now just 13 shy of 23,000 laps led in his 20-year career. "To me, it's a track where you have to be really precise and patient. At Watkins Glen, you have to attack really hard and be aggressive. I feel like Sonoma is the exact opposite of that, and I think that suits me a little bit better." 

While the two road courses are polar opposites, Gordon said he enjoys the change in direction. 

"While we haven't had the same success we once had on road courses, I look forward to those events," he said. "The road courses bring a different set of challenges, and those challenges are fun. 

"Challenges (are what) I always look forward to as a driver."

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