Gordon: Chase addition has “lit a fire under us”

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Like it or not, Jeff Gordon is in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – and while he and his team had been inconsistent through the regular season, he believes that everyone’s ready to show that they truly deserved their post-season berth.

“I always like to say that you’ve got to walk before you can run, but I will say this has lit a fire under us,” Gordon said Friday about his chances of claiming a fifth Sprint Cup title.

“…I know we haven’t shown it yet this year, but this team is ready to show it now. So, I think that’s the one thing is when you get yourself in this position, you want to show the world and our racing community, the ones that support us and the ones that didn’t, that we belong here and there is a reason why we’re in this thing.”

NASCAR added Gordon to the Chase as a 13th driver following the events of last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. He was one of the competitors most impacted by a spin from Clint Bowyer with seven laps to go in that event, and when the checkered flag flew following a restart with three laps left, he found himself out of the Chase by a single point.

But that was then. Now, Gordon is looking forward to the post-season stretch on a set of tracks that have treated him and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team well in the past.

“We have ten, or at least eight, I’d say, good racetracks that are in the Chase that I really like, that we run well at, and it starts right here in Chicago,” he said. “This is a good track for us. We qualified well. New Hampshire is a great track for us. Martinsville is a great track for us. Obviously, Homestead is a great track. We ran great in Charlotte.

“I mean, I would say Kansas and Phoenix are the two that are probably on our radar that we need to do better at. Texas is another good track for us. So, I’m excited.”

Gordon won at Chicagoland back in 2006 and has collected seven Top-10 finishes in 12 career Cup starts there. He’ll start sixth in tomorrow’s Chase opener, the GEICO 400.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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