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He Can Go to His Right

NASCAR's life of left turns takes a break at Sonoma, and that suits Gordon just fine

June 21, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

"Most of the preparation for a road course is in the car itself. When you've had success like we've had, I can get very familiar with the track right away. It's the fine-tuning of the car that's the biggest key."

Gordon also revealed that, had the timing been different, he might have been driving in Formula One today instead of Winston Cup.

"Years ago, I got a call from Jackie Stewart, asking me if I would drive a Formula 3000 car for him. I had been doing a lot of ovals, driving [U.S. Auto Club] midgets and sprint cars, and I had just gone to my first stock-car driving school with Ford and I had fallen in love with those cars. I had to consider my options and it was just about the time NASCAR was taking off, so I decided to go with it.

"Had Jackie Stewart's call come before Ford called, who knows, I might've gone to Europe and fallen in love with those cars instead. But, I went with the first and best opportunity I had at the time."

Gordon sees Sunday's race as a good opportunity to make up points in his chase for a fifth Winston Cup championships. After 15 races, he is third, 223 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and 38 behind second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Neither Kenseth nor Earnhardt Jr. has finished better than 15th here.

"This weekend should be a good test for Matt and Junior," Gordon said. "It seems Matt's weakness, if you can call it that, is the superspeedways and the road courses. Junior's seems to be the road courses.

"For us, we look at this as an opportunity. We know this is a race we can win. We've been strong here in the past and I believe we have made some gains since last year."

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