Jul 25, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT
At the conclusion of Jeff Gordon‘s press conference this morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy mayor Greg Ballard read a proclamation that declared Sunday, July 27, 2014 – the day of this year’s Brickyard 400 – as “Jeff Gordon Day” in the city.
“I just hope my competitors are respectful of this, and on Sunday, they’ll just sort of move out of the way,” quipped Gordon, the four-time Brickyard champ and current Sprint Cup points leader.
Joking aside, Gordon feels like he has his best opportunity at becoming the first five-time winner in a stock car at IMS in a while.
“There’s no doubt that this is the best chance that we’ve had at winning this race legitimately, with the speed of the car, as we’ve had in a very long time,” said Gordon, who’s celebrating the 20th anniversary of his victory in the inaugural Brickyard back in 1994.
“It’s obvious that there’s some competitors out there that are going to be tough, including our teammates. But I think the preparation that we’ve put into it and what we’ve been working on since the break – prior, leading into that really – we’re really excited about seeing what we have here today and this weekend.
“From an overall strength of the team and speed of the cars, this is by far the best chance we’ve had of winning in a long time.”
Gordon is also enjoying the fact that he isn’t having to deal with the pressure of having to scrap for a Chase spot like he’s had over the last couple of years.
In 2012, Gordon had to rally from one lap down in the regular season finale at Richmond before he made it into the Chase with a second-place finish.
Before getting his playoff reprieve from Brian France, Gordon and his No. 24 team went through multiple bouts of inconsistency in the 2013 regular season.
But in 2014, Gordon’s been running like clockwork with a Chase-clinching win at Kansas, 13 Top-10s, and an average finish of 9.6. He says that the team’s been doing a great job of putting themselves in strong positions throughout the race weekends, but also feels that they need to improve further.
“I’ve always said that you make your own luck, and I think that we’re doing that this year,” he said. “We’re running up front, we’re qualifying up front, we’re making smart decisions, and we’ve got good race cars.
“It’s great to be in this position but we also look at our competitors and we know we haven’t won the most races and we need to win more, so we’re taking what we’ve done so far and looking at the positives and how good it is, and we’re enjoying that.
“But we’re also working really, really hard because we want to be the best out there. And I feel like even though we’re leading the points with this new system, we’ve got to be better than this if we’re going to win the championship.”
Gordon also received one more item this morning from IMS president J. Douglas Boles – the No. 24 placard from the track’s second-generation scoring pylon that was taken down recently (a new video pylon has since been installed).
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