WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. --Despite going 29 races without a
victory, Jeff Gordon has a shot at a fifth Winston Cup title.
He gets to drive this weekend on a track he has dominated.
"I know this team is capable of putting a string of wins
together, and a win at Watkins Glen could be the spark we need,"
Gordon said. "If we can limit our mistakes and don't have
mechanical problems, then we'll be a threat to win on Sunday."
Gordon will try for his fifth win in the last six years on the
picturesque track in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
Gordon isn't used to waiting this long between victories: He has
58 over his career and rarely has gone more than half a dozen
events without winning.
For all his disappointments this season, though, the 31-year-old
Gordon is fourth in the Winston Cup standings, 125 points behind
leader Sterling Martin with 15 races to go.
Gordon has won a record seven times on NASCAR's road courses,
and Marlin is winless on such layouts. That gives Gordon possibly
his best chance to make a major move since June's event at Infineon
Raceway, where Gordon had won three times.
"I feel like we had the car to beat at Sonoma, but we broke a
rear-end gear," he said.
Because of that, Gordon wound up 37th. He picked up just a few
points on Marlin, who took last in a field of 43.
Gordon's past success on the 2.45-mile track at Watkins Glen is
no guarantee he'll win here again, of course. Indeed, more and more
drivers are taking road courses seriously.
"It used to be there were three or four guys who could win on
the road courses," he said. "Now everyone realizes that you can't
give away points during these two races and expect to win a
championship, so everyone has stepped up their road-course
Perhaps Gordon also should keep an eye on Bill Elliott, a winner
the last two weeks who also has two poles and three front-row
starts in the last three races. Elliott hasn't won on a road course
since 1983. But his car is owned by Ray Evernham, who, as a crew
chief, guided Gordon to his first three wins at Watkins Glen.
"Ray's given me another chance," said Elliott, whose career
was revived when Evernham chose him last year as the first driver
for his start-up Dodge team. "I've got a good stable situation
right now, and that helps me focus on doing what I need to do."
The edge was apparent the last two weeks, when Elliott won in
Long Pond, Pa., and Indianapolis. He finished eighth on his last
road course, at Infineon, and he's expecting a strong showing this
"I like road courses," Elliott said. "It's something a little
Stewart won last year at Infineon and has been a strong
contender at Watkins Glen. He's on probation for the rest of the
season after NASCAR fined him $10,000 for punching a photographer
after a 12th-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis