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“Everybody in our organization wants it and is working hard to get it,” Gordon said. “Every weekend I feel like one of us has an opportunity of getting it, and why it hasn’t happened yet is a little bit of a mystery. I know we are on the brink of it, and tomorrow, any one of us can get it done. While every team at Hendrick Motorsports wants it for Rick and knows there’s a lot on the line for it, the rest of us, if one of us gets it, we’ll all be relieved.

“We’ll say `Thank goodness we got the 200th and can take the focus off of that.’”

With temperatures expected in the 90s on Sunday at the Alabama track, drivers have worried all weekend about overheating during the race.

NASCAR tried to break up the two-car tandem racing that had developed at Daytona and Talladega through various rules and restrictions. Some of the technical elements included making it so that two cars pushing each other could not do it for very long without putting their engine in danger of overheating, and the high temperatures this weekend have heightened the danger.

“We’re just kind of going in blind tomorrow,” Johnson said. “The heat is the heat. And we’re going to have to manage it for sure. So, it’s going to be tough to keep the cars cool with how hot it’s going to be.”