Jeff Gordon's spot in the Sprint Cup Series point standings is secure enough that the four-time series champion can concentrate on victories over the next six races heading into the Chase starting with Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Gordon is second in the series standings trailing Kevin Harvick by 184 points so although not officially locked in, his spot in the 12-driver Chase field is comfortable.
But with the Chase seedings set by wins and the need to peak as the playoff stretch of the schedule draws closer, Gordon knows it's time to kick things up a gear.
"That's where it becomes important to run well here and these next several tracks," Gordon said. "Like you said, it is more important for us to build momentum. It's been nice we've shown we can be consistent, we've shown we can lead laps. But we have to show that we can win as well. I think it's important to show it before the Chase as well as you do it in the Chase.
"Plus we don't want to go into the Chase, you know, say second in points at Richmond and then go to New Hampshire and we're eighth or ninth in points. You just don't want to give up 40, 50, 60 points to guys like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) or the 11 )Denny Hamlin) and the 29 (Harvick) and these guys."
Gordon believes there will be some carry over from last Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Sunday's race at the 2.5-mile relatively flat Pocono track. Although after his disappointing run at Indy, he's hoping not everything translates.
"I would say that more than likely guys that you saw good at Indy will probably be good here," Gordon said. "Doesn't always transfer over, but it certainly can. So we don't want to do a whole lot of what we did in Indy because we weren't very good there."
"You know, right now we want to win for those bonus points. A track like Pocono didn't do a whole lot for us for the championship in any other way because this way - same with Indy - there's no characteristics that you can really gain from those tracks that are going to help you at the mile-and-a-half's and the short tracks, you know, and Talladega for the Chase."
The No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet team made some off track news this week with a contract extension for crew chief Steve Letarte and the addition of a new spotter in Jeff Dickers, who comes to work with Gordon after a tenure with Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Gordon understands the importance of good chemistry within his race team and that includes the driver-spotter relationship.
"We're always constantly looking for ways to improve chemistry within the team," he said. "I'm hoping that's what he can bring. He's got a lot of experience spotting. Word has it he's one of the best spotters out there. When a guy like that becomes available, then you got to take a serious look at it. We did. We ended up making a change."
"We're certainly hoping that that will be something that will pay off for us. As well as research is now so important with the double-file restarts. You have to be accurate, you have to be on top of it; you have to anticipate. Being a spotter is not an easy job."