|Gordon realizes the task at hand|
With that daunting task at hand, this weekend's LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ranks as the next-best thing to a “must win” race. Last year, Gordon overcame numerous obstacles in a pair of starts at the Loudon, NH, oval. In July, the three-time NHMS winner led 19 laps before electrical problems dropped him from the lead lap. He battled back and was running inside the top five before a blown
right-front tire on the final lap relegated him to a disappointing 11th-place finish."
In September, Gordon led a race-high 78 laps before issues on his final stop left him with only a partial fuel load and forced him to race conservatively in the final laps. Despite have to nurse his car to the finish, the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion finished fourth.
"I feel like Alan (Gustafson) and our engineers do an excellent job on flat race tracks - especially tracks like Loudon," said Gordon. "(New Hampshire) is high on my list of tracks that I feel we can capitalize on."
Along with three wins and three poles in 34 starts at the 1.058-mile track, Gordon leads all drivers with 15 Top-5 and 19 Top-10 finishes, along with 1,304 laps led.
"I think Loudon is a great opportunity for us," he said. "We've been very competitive here recently, and I feel we can be competitive again this weekend, hopefully with a shot at winning. It's a track that I really enjoy, but it's not an easy one to get around because of the long straightaways, flat corners and hard braking. I think the variable banking has made it a little bit easier to run side-by-side and make passes, though."
With just eight races remaining before the Chase field is set, Gordon knows that only wins will aid his quest to earn a spot in the 12-driver playoff field.
"We are not afraid of trying things with the setup or during the race," said Gordon, who is currently a distant 17th in Sprint Cup championship points. "We're not afraid to take some risks. Each race that goes by without a win; the more risk we are willing to take.
"But I feel like we're still a long way from being out of this thing.