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CUP: Gordon Not Flying – Yet

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Jeff Gordon – competition snowboarder?

In his dreams, maybe.

Asked about filling the shoes of any other athlete, Gordon picked snowboard king Shaun White, winner of two Olympic gold medals.

“I mean, flying through the air on a skateboard or a snowboard is something I think would be pretty awesome to do,” Gordon said. “He's won gold medals, X-Games, and I've met Shaun, and he is a great kid, too, doing some Pepsi commercials with him years ago.

“Growing up as a kid, I used to ride a skateboard, so that always something. ... Tony Hawk is a guy that I always idolized, but I was never really on a half-pipe and things. Shaun is kind of the ultimate when you think of it now. I had just gone snowboarding on our time off for Easter, so that was kind of fresh in my mind. Looking at that half-pipe thinking about what Shaun does on that, it's pretty amazing."

Meanwhile, back at the race track, Gordon might have changed the face of his season last week with a solid third-place run at Martinsville Speedway.

Gordon was lagging in 18th place in points five races into the season and hadn’t logged a top-five finish. But the third at Martinsville boosted him six places in points and returned him to the Chase conversation as the tour races at Texas Motor Speedway tonight.

Gordon said he and his team must concentrate on making improvements week by week.

“Our focus is on making our car go faster each time we get to the track,” he said. “I think our short-track program is good, but the mile-and-a-half stuff is really where you have got to be good if you are going to be a threat for the championship. We have not really been a threat at those tracks.

“Our focus is just improving our own cars and setups, so for us being 12th in points, that was a good gain from last week. We were 18th prior to that. You don’t think about who you are beating for the championship when you are that far back in points. You think about how do we get in the top 10, and we get ourselves solidly in the top 10 and start competing for wins, then we will start thinking that way.”

Gordon said the off weekend prior to Martinsville and Thursday’s test day at Texas were productive for the No. 24 team.

“We are gathering as much information as we can,” he said. “That test was valuable for us. The weekend off was crucial for us to work on some things, gather information from our teammates who have been good at (Las) Vegas, but not so good at California. Just trying to see all that information (and) looking at our competitors – things that they are doing, what they’ve got and trying to apply that to our setups. I think we made gains.

“This is a good track for me. We have run good here the last couple of times we have been here. It is a bit of a unique mile-and-a-half compared to some of the others that are out there right now. I think this one suits my style a little bit better like an Atlanta. I think we have a shot at being more competitive here even if our program is off a little bit. I do think we have made some gains.”

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.