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Gordon trying to race his way into Chase again at Richmond

Sep 7, 2013, 4:47 PM EDT

Jeff Gordon AP

Jeff Gordon‘s been here before. And not too long ago, either.

Rewind to last year’s Chase decider at Richmond International Raceway, where Gordon had to race his way into the post-season. The four-time Sprint Cup champion looked as if he wouldn’t be able to do so, finding himself a lap down when the race was stopped for rain before the halfway mark.

But after his team disconnected the rear sway bar on his No. 24 Chevy, Gordon came alive. And at the end of the night, he had gone all the way to the runner-up spot, giving him the final Chase berth over Kyle Busch.

Tonight, Gordon finds himself in the same position. Winless so far this year, he is six points behind Kurt Busch for the final Top-10 bid in this year’s Chase. He can also clinch a Wild Card spot if he can come through with a victory.

Either way, your pole sitter for the Federated Auto Parts 400 needs another big night in Virginia. But compared to last year, Gordon maintains that he’s more loose this time around.

“I think we were in a tougher spot last year than we are this year,” he said Thursday. “I think the way it prepared us was knowing no matter what happens, you can’t ever give up.

“You just have to put every bit of effort into every single moment, every lap.  If the car’s off, you got to work on it, sometimes take big swings at it. If your car’s perfect, don’t get complacent.”

Gordon was in trouble earlier in August after crashing at Watkins Glen, which caused him to tumble out of the Top 10 in the Cup standings. But he’s been able to climb back into the picture with results of seventh and sixth respectively in the last two events.

His Hendrick Motorsports team also recently tested at Richmond, and while Gordon said it wasn’t a great test, he felt the team “learned what not to do” and “made some big changes to improve the car as the test went on.”

Even more important in Gordon’s mind? The test went down in night conditions – similar to what he and the drivers will face in a few short hours from now.

“That was huge for us,” he said. “It’s not a typical thing that the track does here when you test. It was one of those things where we asked for it and they were able to, you know, pull that together and get us that valuable time on the track under more suitable race conditions.”

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gordon on his game once again tonight at “The Action Track.”

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