Gordon not giving up on Winston Cup title

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon is currently seventh in the Winston Cup point standings, 201 markers back of leader Tony Stewart going into today's UAW-GM 500. Despite this Gordon feels he still has a shot at winning a fifth series championship this season.
   "We're definitely not out of it," said Gordon. "We've got a lot of points to make up and we do need some of those guys ahead of us to have trouble. We've got to run hard. We really don't have much to lose.
   "It's been funny how this season has been real up and down. The highs are real high and the lows are real low. That's why we've been in the top five, the top ten in points, we've been able to rebound. But, man if we could just finish better at some of these tracks."
   He's looks to today's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway as a chance to make up some lost ground. "I like this place," admitted Gordon. "It's a challenging race track, but a great race track where you can run all over the place. I've never seen anything like this points battle. There are some guys in there now that I don't think will falter or make mistakes, so it's going to come down to consistency. It seems like everyone is having trouble here and there.
   "I think everywhere we go this year, it's wide-open all throughout the race. You can't hold back. The tires don't fall off and track position is everything. Once you get it, you have to fight as hard as you can to hold on to it."
   Bobby Labonte is a big fan of the trend in recent years of moving more Winston Cup races to Saturday nights. "Saturday night races are really good for us because, with the way the schedule is, there are only three total weekends off from the beginning of the year to the end of the year," said the 2000 Winston Cup champion. "Another Sunday off definitely helps out. It may not sound like much, but another Sunday off is a big deal."
   Asked about recent announcement of moving the October race in Charlotte next season to Saturday, Labonte responded, "With my kids being in school - Monday through Friday, Sunday's they're home. If I'm home and they're home, we can go to church and do other things. I think it's good. You won't find me at a racetrack on that Sunday after this race next year. It will be some good family time."
   Only 10 Winston Cup drivers were in Saturday's Little Trees 300 Busch Series race, a far cry from just a few years ago when the number of Cup drivers in Busch races at Charlotte would be in the 20-25 range. Still, the Cup stars were a force to be reckoned with as Jeff Burton, Michael Waltrip, Joe Nemechek and Jeff Green took the top four spots.