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Drivers gun for Gordon at Glen

Published Sep. 29, 2005

When the Winston Cup boys get to the Watkins Glen International road course this weekend they are going to find a couple of changes.

First, Dale Jarrett will be the points leader.

Second, there will be some freshly poured concrete in the corners of the 2.45-mile course.

One thing that will not be new, however, is the man everybody will be gunning for.

Jeff Gordon, the two-time defending Winston Cup champion, has tested on that new concrete and is confident he will be able to continue his dominance of NASCAR's road courses.

"The track is a little different since they put the concrete down in the corners. I really like the concrete _ it's got grip and you know it's going to be consistent," Gordon said.

Gordon has won the series' past four road races, including last year's race at Watkins Glen and June's race at Sears Point. Since a 31st-place showing at the Glen during his rookie season, Gordon has reeled off back-to-back victories, a Bud pole, four top fives and five top 10's.

But there is one driver who seems hot enough to put Gordon's win streak in jeopardy. Enter Jarrett.

The points leader has finished no lower than 11th since the second race of the year, racking up 18 top 10's and 16 top fives and building a 274-point advantage over Mark Martin. More importantly, he has been successful at Watkins Glen in the past, finishing fifth last season.

But that isn't keeping Jarrett from resorting to some desperate tactics.

"The car we're planning on taking there for the race is the oldest one at Robert Yates Racing," Jarrett said. "It's car No. 7. Just to give you an idea on how old that car is, right now we are up to car No. 66. It has been completely redone. We know it's a good car, and I'm looking forward to getting it back out there."

Old car or new car, in order to sustain his gigantic lead, Jarrett has to figure out a way to get by Gordon's No. 24 car. Jarrett said he's taking Sunday's race as just another chance to go out and finish as high as he can.

"You have to look at it from the standpoint that it's two races a season that we have to do," Jarrett said of the road courses. "Those two races pay the same amount of points as a short track and a superspeedway race. You just have to go into it well-prepared."

UP IN THE AIR: While Jarrett is threatening to turn the NASCAR points race into a sprint for second place, the CART points race is turning into a four-wide battle for top spot.

Rookie Juan Montoya started on one of the hottest streaks known to auto racing, tallying three wins in the first five races. But then Michael Andretti won the Motorola 300 and kick-started a streak that has resulted in a CART record nine different winners this season.

Joining Andretti and Montoya in Victory Lane this season are Paul Tracy, Gil de Ferran, Christian Fittipaldi, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Greg Moore and Adrian Fernandez. That adds up to one muddled points race heading into the final seven races of the season, beginning with Sunday's Miller Lite 200 in Lexington, Ohio.

Montoya, with 129 points, still holds the overall lead by 13 points over Franchitti, but Andretti (107) and Fittipaldi (101) are within striking distance.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Elliott Sadler may not be the most dominating rookie on the Winston Cup circuit _ Tony Stewart sealed that honor a long time ago _ but he does have a new line for his resume.

Million-dollar winner.

With his 21st-place finish at the Brickyard 400 last weekend Sadler earned $102,710, which made him the 75th driver to go over the million-dollar mark for career earnings. He has $1,009,224 in 22 starts.