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DATE News (chronologically)
09/17/08
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Adjusting to NASCAR's new car proving to be Jeff Gordon's greatest challenge
Could the COT be Jeff Gordon's kryptonite?  It's been a long time since Gordon was dubbed the boy wonder, but it's also been a while since the four-time series champion has dominated, truly dominated, the field the way some of his competitors have.

Part of that is the car, he said, and getting used to the wheels under him after more than a decade of driving a different kind of vehicle. 

Old habits are hard to break.

Gordon is the first to admit that at this point in his career, it's tough to change.

"I can't learn how to do new things," Gordon said last week. "The one frustration for us, and for (crew chief) Steve (Letarte), is that we've got to figure out how to make this car work for my driving style."

Gordon's driving style not so long ago was the talk of the town. He drove up and around competitors, drove some of the greats crazy, and, of course, became one of the most loved - and hated - drivers in the sport.

Then came the Car of Tomorrow, and the game changed.

Before the newfangled vehicle was introduced, drivers said the newer guys would have an easier time adjusting to the car, which every driver says is harder to drive than the old one.

Which, is why, Gordon and his team are having a tough time adjusting.

Gordon, at 37, is an elder statesman of the sport.

Along with longevity, comes respect, and all of those other good things. But, with gray hairs, also comes a bit of trouble in adjusting to new ways of doing things.

It's been a frustrating year for Gordon, no doubt.

"There's just things you can't change about yourself when you get to this point in your career," he said.

And with the lower-than-expected performance on the race track, he's heard the whispers, seen the stories, and, frankly, gotten fed up with the negative press.

"I have to have a little thicker skin to deal with these types of questions," he said.  NY Daily News

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