For Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team, a good finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway requires a better start to the weekend.
When the green flag dropped here in June, Gordon was “pretty happy” with his Chevrolet SS even though he started from the 29th position. But the race was barely five laps old before he was collected in accident.
“We analyze the race, the situation and take all the information we can gather to find ways to improve and make sure things don’t happen again in the future,” said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 Axalta Standox Chevrolet SS this weekend. “Qualifying as poorly as we did put us in the position to get caught up in that wreck.
“We shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with. We have to improve our qualifying effort here.”
Gordon is third all-time with 72 Sprint Cup Series pole positions with five of those fast times occurring at the Irish Hills track. He has visited Victory Lane twice here and posted 18 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s in 41 starts.
“I feel like we’ve learned some things recently that will really help our performance in qualifying as well as the race,” Gordon said. “I was pretty happy with my car when the race started here in June. Hopefully, we have a strong car again.
“And hopefully we’ll be around at the end to battle for the win.”
Only four races remain before the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set following race No. 26 at Richmond, and Gordon is currently on the outside looking in. Evidenced by his drop from ninth to 13th in the standings due to his wreck at Watkins Glen, N.Y., last weekend, the standings are tight and can shuffle drastically from race to race.
“It’s going to be a battle all the way through the checkered flag at Richmond,” Gordon said. “A win would certainly help our chances, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think a string of top-fives and top-10s could get us a top-10 spot in the standings.”