HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) _ Slogans like ``The Drive for Five'' are on
the back burner for Jeff Gordon. For now, he and his team are just
focused on the next race.
The four-time NASCAR champion is off to one of the best starts
of his career, with three straight top ten finishes.
The only other time Gordon won the first three events of the
season was 1997. An engine failure at Atlanta Motor Speedway ended
that streak, but Gordon went on to win the second of his
As his crew prepared his Number 24 Chevrolet for tomorrow's
Kobalt 500 on Atlanta's 1-point-5-mile oval, Gordon said that he
feels they've made a lot of ground from a year ago.
In one of the lowest moments of his illustrious career, Gordon
failed to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship in
2005. He said that was a wake-up call.
Steve Letarte, a long time employee at Hendrick Motorsports,
took over as crew chief for Gordon in the last ten races of 2005
and the chemistry was instant. Gordon's team built momentum with
four top ten finishes, including a win at Martinsville, in the last
five races that season.
Last year, Gordon won two races and made the Chase and finished
sixth in the points. Meanwhile, teammate Jimmie Johnson, whose car
Gordon co-owns with Rick Hendrick, won the Cup title.
While Gordon heads into tomorrow's race second, trailing Mark
Martin by six points, most everyone considers him the series
leader, since Martin insists he will sit out the next two races at
Bristol and Martinsville.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)