Car number: 24 • Manufacturer: Chevy • Sponsor: DuPont
Owner: Rick Hendrick
• Team: Hendrick Motorsports
• Crew Chief: Steve Letarte
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin Jeff Gordon and the DuPont team returned in 2006 as a more confident bunch that was able to exorcise the demons that haunted it in '05. Gordon's suddenly stout intermediate program propelled him into the Chase last season, as the DuPont team was finally able to get a handle on the aero issues surrounding the program. Expect similar results this season on the downforce tracks, which should keep Gordon in title contention well into the Chase.
Also expect this team to adjust to the Car of Tomorrow more quickly than most. Gordon cut his teeth in the Cup ranks at a time when the driver had just as much control over a car's setup and handling as the engineer. While the engineer's input will remain of the utmost importance, the driver will initially give invaluable feedback via the seat of his pants. Gordon could do some damage before others catch up.
DNFs were an issue with this team last season. Mechanical failures and accidents burned the DuPont Chevy in the regular season and in the Chase. Keep that in mind when selecting your fantasy lineup.
As always, Gordon will be one of the boys to beat when the circuit visits the short tracks and the road courses. He is almost guaranteed a win at Martinsville and is the all-time Cup leader in road wins. While his plate performance last season wasn't up to par with his two-win season of '05, he can still get it done when he has a dancing partner in Jimmie Johnson. The question is whether Johnson will opt to work with best friend and new teammate Casey Mears.
Gordon's points-racing expertise is also noteworthy. He knows when to push the button and when to lie back and take the sixth-place finish that will pay off in the long run. Because of this, Gordon should overcome any mechanical issues to register his third career Chase qualification.
The DuPont rebuilding started during 2005's Chase when the team recorded four top 10s in the season's final five races. Included was a huge confidence-boosting win at Martinsville.
The rebuilding continued through the offseason, when the Hendrick-owned team rolled up its sleeves and found the cure for the aero woes.
While success did not come quickly in '06, it did, in fact, come. Five top 5 runs on aero-dependent tracks in the season's first half - highlighted by the Chicago win - bumped the team into Chase contention, a position it would not relinquish.
Gordon was off to a stellar start in the Chase, notching consecutive third-place finishes, until all hell broke loose. A faulty fuel pump at Kansas, a crash at Talladega and a puked engine at Lowe's were the DuPont team's undoing.
• The Good: The DuPont team's performance on the intermediate tracks earned it a spot in the Chase last season. In 2005, it was ranked 23rd in points earned on the intermediates. In 2006, it rebounded to rank fifth.
• The Bad: Is it bad to spin someone to win? Jeff Gordon showed his fire when he put the chrome horn to Matt Kenseth to win at Chicago. Kenseth thought it was payback from Bristol. He was probably right.
• The Ugly: Again, is showing emotion a bad thing? Gordon took offense to the last-lap spin administered by Kenseth at Bristol and gave him a shove on pit road. Next time, take the helmet off, Jeff.