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Jeff Gordon can't stay winless forever....But Texas has rarely been kind to him


Jeff Gordon has his game face on for this Texas 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   FORT WORTH, Texas
   This has to be Jeff Gordon's Sunday. He can't keep getting this close to winning without winning, can he?
   Again he's on the front row for the 1 p.m. CDT start, and even if Texas Motor Speedway isn't one of his best tracks, he's looking good for the Texas Samsung 500, and he insists he's got his act together on these mid-sized tracks. And he started from the front row last fall here, and finished second.
    "This is a track where we have been hit-or-miss," Gordon says. "I want to win here bad; this team deserves to win here. They put us in position to win here a couple of times…just haven't had all the things you need to have happen at the end of the race go our way --- leading and brushing the wall, having an electrical problem inside 50 laps to go….Looking back, those are pretty disappointing because we could have gotten that off of our back.
   "But last spring here we were terrible. We struggled all weekend with the car. We did not want to show up at the track like that again…and it's only made us better as a team.
    "We really focus on this track, knowing we need to run better.
     "Track position is key here, and we got the track position (last fall) and weren't really able to maintain it. We just weren't good enough in the race.
    "As well as things have gone with our 1-1/2-mile program this year,I think we have a good shot at being much better. I think we got something that can work very well here.
    And if so, his chances for another championship will be good. He's leading the Sprint Cup tour standings, though he's still looking for that first win since October 2007.
     But does Jeff Gordon really have what it takes to beat Kyle Busch, who's probably the best driver in the sport today?
   "Kyle at Bristol, he really came through the field, unbelievable," Gordon says.  "He really had a car that could pass, could maneuver through traffic, unlike I've seen in some time. 
    "You have to give him and that team a lot of credit. 
    "I think we still have an aerodynamic issue with this car: You get stuck behind cars and I don't think we've got it 100 percent figured out."
  "We don't talk about it as much anymore, but the issue hasn't gone away," Gordon says.  "We've gotten better with the cars; everybody has made the cars -- from a pure speed standpoint -- much more competitive.
   "And that's only going to make track position that much more critical."
    Another title? Well, it won't be easy. "People are learning how to race with the chase format….and it's too early to get ahead of yourself and do anything stupid," Gordon says. "You just need to go out there and be consistent. That's what’s going to get you in the top-12.
    "But the guys that are going to race for the championship are the guys who are pushing it hard to see what they have – to really get prepared for those final 10. Martinsville is in the chase (this fall), and to me that performance Jimmie (Johnson) had (in winning last Sunday) shows that we have to step up to compete with those guys."
    Curious paint scheme for ol' number 24: maybe he can perk up souvenir sales too (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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