Weekend in SoCal
LOS ANGELES, CA. (February 28)- - After a stirring victory in the Daytona 500, Jeff Gordon tried to pull over back-to-back wins to open the season. After running in the top-ten for the balance of the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, Gordon began closing in on the lead with 50 laps remaining. A late pit stop for tires shuffled him back to 9th on a restart with 29 laps to go. He made his way up to 5th but dropped a cylinder in the engine with 12 laps remaining. He nursed the car around the track and eventually pulled behind the wall with 2 laps to go in the event. He was credited with a 30th place finish, and fell to 10th in the series points standings. "I think it was something in the valve train," Gordon said after the race. "I'm not sure. We should be really safe here. We're turning less RPMs than we were before. Weíre not really sure until we get to the bottom of it. My car was handling really good. I was a little bit tight there at the end. If you're going to break engines when you're that good, then we've got a problem." The Roush Racing cars of Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch stayed on the track during the final caution period, which proved advantageous. Biffle passed Busch for the lead with 23 laps to go and held off a late charge from Jimmie Johnson to win his fourth career race. Following the disappointing finish, Gordon headed about an hour west to attend some of the post-Oscars parties in Los Angeles.
Appearances" On Friday, February 25, the Fontana Area Chamber of Commerce presented "Monte Carlo Night" at the California Speedway. Jeff Gordon served as a blackjack dealer at the fundraiser, which benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Best B.E.T. program, and Children's Speedway Charities. On Saturday morning, Gordon was inducted into the speedway's Walk of Fame for the third time in his career. The Walk Of Fame at the California Speedway consists of a plaque set in the ground in front commemorating the winner of each of the NASCAR races held at the track. As the plaque is placed in the wet cement, the winner places his footprints and autograph beside it. Gordon won the Auto Club 500 in 2004. He also won the event in 1997 and 1999.
Induction Monday For Gordon
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 22)- - Jeff Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet was inducted into the Daytona USA museum on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway on Monday morning. Gordon's third career win in the Daytona 500 further cemented his status as the standard bearer in NASCAR racing. The car will 'lie in state' at the museum for the next year. Gordon and his crew chief Robbie Loomis participated in a fan forum with fans in attendance. Gordon and Loomis also received their winning Daytona 500 jackets and Gatorade presented the 2005 Daytona 500 champ with a framed photo from the Victory Lane celebration. Another Daytona 500 tradition continued with the signing of the car by Gordon and his crew. But the Hendrick Motorsports crew added a new twist. Last week, HMS mechanics who worked on the car back at the shop in North Carolina signed a white paneled sticker just in case the car won the Daytona 500. That sticker now rests on bumper of the car. "They made up a panel and had everybody sign it," Gordon said. "You can call it cocky, confidence or whatever you want to call it. They wanted that car to be here and for people to look at it for the next 364 days. We go into this event hoping we're going to lose that car."
Glory Days: Jeff Wins At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 21)- - Jeff Gordon further cemented his legend in NASCAR racing with a dramatic victory in the season-opening Daytona 500. Gordon, with drafting help from Jimmie Johnson, passed Dale Earnhardt Jr for the lead with two laps remaining and held off the defending race champion on a green/white/checkers restart after a wreck ensued just after he claimed the top spot. It was Gordon's third career victory in the Daytona 500, and 70th victory of his career. Gordon raced in the top-ten for the balance of the afternoon, and led more than 20 laps near the halfway point. But as the laps wound down he found himself behind Tony Stewart. He knew Stewart would protect the bottom of the track. Earnhardt Jr went to the ouside on lap 195 to challenge Stewart for the lead. Two laps later he pulled off the pass. The crowd roared as Earnhardt Jr claimed the top spot and looked to be on his way to his second consecutive victory in the Daytona 500. But that's when a teammate came to Gordon's aid. With drafting help from Johnson, Gordon pulled to the high line and completed the winning pass one lap later. "This is just an awesome win," Gordon said. "I think everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been motivated by trying to honor those that were lost. That's the way we like to keep them in our memories and know that they're looking down smiling. It doesn't get any better than that." Don't let the benign exterior fool you-- Jeff Gordon is the toughest, smartest, and simply the best race car driver of his era.
Survival Thursday At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 18)- - Jeff Gordon will start 15th in Sunday's Daytona 500 after finishing seventh in the 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday. Gordon started second and moved to the lead within two laps. He held the lead until pit stops on lap 31 when he dropped to fourth after an average four-tire stop. A caution flag on lap 44 brought the field to pit road and Gordon again elected to change four tires. He restarted in fifth position with 14 laps remaining. With 11 laps to go, Gordon went low to push Kyle Busch up to the third. However, on lap 52 Kurt Busch tapped the rear of Gordon's car in turn one, which forced him up the track as he fell to ninth. One lap later Gordon and Jason Leffler made contact heading into turn one. The ensuing contact sent Leffler into Kasey Kahne's car to bring out a caution. The final restart came with three laps remaining and Mike Skinner in the lead. Coming to the white flag, Dale Earnhardt Jr, with drafting help from Michael Waltrip, passed Skinner for the lead. In turn four, Waltrip edged even with his teammate and pulled ahead at the finish line for a 1-2 Dale Earnhardt Inc. finish. Gordon passed Kyle Busch after the rookie made contact with Jamie McMurray in the tri-oval for a seventh place finish. In the second qualifying race, Tony Stewart took the victory after a wreck-marred affair that saw Kevin Harvick, Rusty Wallace, and Joe Nemechek lose their primary cars in a major wreck instigated when Harvick bumped Johnson twice in the middle of turn two.
Jimmie's Dominance Continues
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 13)- - Jimmie Johnson passed Ryan Newman for the lead of the Budweiser Shootout with 16 laps to go and held off Newman and Jeff Gordon to win the exhibition race. It was Johnson's fifth victory in his past seven starts. Johnson started 17th but made his way into the top-five within the first 10 laps. After a pit stop on lap 46, he tracked down Newman who had taken only two tires. His teammate Gordon never led the race and had an eventful night in traffic. He fell to 17th from his 11th starting position, but rebounded up to 8th at the end of the first 20-lap segment. In the final 50-lap segment, he dropped back to 14th before coming back through the field. With 5 laps to go, Gordon passed Greg Biffle to take 2nd place. But Biffle came back one lap later and passed Gordon who fell to 6th. He worked the high line in the final laps to move up to 3rd at the finish. On Sunday, Gordon qualified 3rd in pole qualifying, which places him on the outside of the front row for the first race on Thursday. "That was everything we've got right there," Gordon said after qualifying. "We definitely slowed down. I think there is a little bit more wind here today than yesterday."
See and Be Seen
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (February 6)- - The Super Bowl has always attracted celebrities and athletes from other sports. Jeff Gordon has attended several of the NFL championship games over the years and he was in the stadium for Sunday's game in Jacksonville. Gordon's yacht, 24 Karat, was docked along the Southbank Riverwalk of the St. John's River. Gordon was in town for the game, but also for the party scene. At the ESPN Party on Friday night, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stood to the side and chatted with Gordon, who happily sang along to Def Leppard and Joan Jett. On Saturday he attended Maxim's "Maximony" party. Following the weekend festivities, Gordon made a pit stop in Miami on Monday for a commercial shoot for Sierra Mist, a lemon-lime soda made by PepsiCo. Gordon was joined on the set by New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and soccer prodigy Freddy Adu, among others. The commerical will begin airing in the spring.
Santa Ana Winds
FONTANA, CA. (February 4)- - Following a two-day test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this week, the DuPont team headed south on I-15 to Fontana, California for two days of testing on Wednesday-Thursday. Jeff Gordon took to the track at California Speedway battling a strong Santa Ana wind. "We are really struggling with the wind,Ē Gordon said. "I donít know how much valuable information we are going to get out of this test if the wind keeps up like this." The gusts have played havoc with the handling of the cars. Still, the DuPont team has a considerable bank of knowledge it can withdraw from should the wind skew test results. Gordon has three career victories on the 2-mile track about an hour east of Los Angeles. "I donít know why we have had such good success here," he said. "I mean I think it is like anywhere else. I think it is a combination of just really well prepared race cars, good horsepower and giving me a comfort. On the first lap on the track today, I did, I felt really comfortable. Is that the cars or me? Itís hard to say. We are always looking for good results and we continue to get them out here and we want to keep that going."
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