February 2006 Random News

Moving Ahead
THE OC. (February 27)- - Jeff Gordon took a 13th place finish at the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. While disappointing on the surface, the team overcame a battery problem with 50 laps to go to remain in contention. "I thought we had a motor problem at first because of the way it was acting," Gordon said. "I looked at all the gauges and I finally looked at the voltmeter and it was gone or down to zero. We lost a lot of time on the track but only lost about two or three positions doing that (changing batteries). We had plenty of time to make it back up. But we were just so loose on new tires that we'd lose a lot of time. We were one of the best cars on the long runs. We just couldn't get track position." Despite the glitz of Los Angeles an hour to the west, racing at the track is often a tedious experience for drivers and fans. "I was a little disappointed in this race track," Gordon said. "Right now, there's no passing. It's just really difficult to put on a good race here. I don't know what we've got to do. I think we've got the cars so good that we're just all running around the bottom of the race track. Other than not having to deal with restrictor plate tracks, it was fun out there adjusting on the car and trying to make it better and getting to race with guys, you feel like you can make a difference based on a few different lines you could take."

Collateral Damage
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 20)- - Jeff Gordon started the 2006 season with a 28th place finish in the Daytona 500. Though his finish surely did not justify the efforts of Gordon and the DuPont team throughout the day at Daytona International Speedway. He battled back from an early on-track incident to challenge for a top-10 finish. However, late race contact ended his hopes to salvage the day. Gordon started from the outside pole and ran in the top-five before taking the lead on lap 24. He eventually slipped back to 5th, and made a move under Tony Stewart exiting turn two on lap 43. However, Gordon's car pushed up the track and made contact with the front of Stewart's Chevrolet. He pancaked the right side of the car requiring multiple pit stops for repairs. He restarted in 40th position and worked his way up to 30th. But trouble once again found him on lap 78 when Jeff Green's wreck collected several drivers. Gordon dove low on the track and wound up with a flat tire. He also lost 3rd gear in the transmission during the melee. Gordon was unable to get up to top speed right away on restarts, but he held his own in the draft. He entered the top-20 on lap 132, and entered into a three-wide fray on lap 165. With 27 laps to go, he passed Dave Blaney to take the 10th position. But Gordon's day took another downward turn with 14 laps to go. Jamie McMurray collected Kurt Busch on the backstretch. Busch spun sideways and hit the right side of Gordon's car as he passed. Gordon came to pit road for repairs and wound up 26th at the finish. "I'm proud of the fight we put up," Gordon said. "In turn two (with Tony), I think both of us deserve some credit for that. My car was too tight, I thought I was going to clear him. He kept his nose in there, I feel like he could have given me some more room. But, whatever, it was bad for both of us. We fought back from that, were running in the top-10, and I was like 'we're going to salvage something decent from here.' Then (Kurt) turned sideways right in front of us. We had some good saves out there, but unfortunately when we lost 3rd gear we just couldn't get going on the restarts."

Johnson Takes Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 20)- - Jimmie Johnson took the lead of the Daytona 500 from his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers on lap 187. With drafting help from Casey Mears, Johnson held off a charge from Ryan Newman on the final lap to win the season-opening race. Johnson's team was in the middle of controversy last week after crew chief Chad Knaus was ejected from the track following a rules violation in qualifying. Lead engineer Darian Grubb replaced Knaus atop the pit box and the team didn't miss a beat. The victory was Johnson's 19th career win, and marked back-to-back victories in the race for Hendrick Motorsports. Overall, it was the 6th victory in the Daytona 500 for HMS.

Gordon Takes Thursday
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 17)- - Jeff Gordon will start on the outside of the front row in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday. While Gordon's starting position was locked in last weekend, he punctuated the effort with a victory in the 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday. Gordon started up front, and lost the lead on lap 9 to his teammate Kyle Busch. However, Gordon re-took the top spot during pit stops on lap 26. From there he held the drafting pack behind him, and led Busch to the checkered flag on lap 64 as the race went four laps beyond its scheduled distance. "The car was awesome," Gordon said. "Obviously we wanted to be up front the whole time. Kyle had a great car and he got by all of his. I was fine riding there in second. I was hoping for a green flag pit stop, but the guys got me out first. That's what won us the race. It got pretty dicey at the end so I was happy to have a teammate there." This was Gordon's third victory in the qualifying race, having captured the slimmed-down 125-miler in 1993 and 2002.

Front Row Start At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 13)- - Jeff Gordon will start on the outside of the front row in Sunday's Daytona 500. Gordon will line up next to Jeff Burton, who claimed his first Daytona pole position. Itis Gordon's highest starting position in the Daytona 500 since he claimed the top spot in 1999. "That front row is just so important here at Daytona," Gordon said. "The pole is obviously something we would love to have and Jeff Burton and those guys put up a great number. We are just happy we hung on to this front row starting position. It means a lot for us because now we can just focus on the 500 and really just do all we can to get the car now handling as good as we can for the 500."

Victimized In The Shootout
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 13)- - The Bud Shootout has traditionally been the first practice exam for the NASCAR teams in the new season. It's their first opportunity to compete for real without having to worry about points. And if the Shootout is any indication, staying up front at all costs in the Daytona 500 is going to be paramount. Jeff Gordon started 10th and moved up to 3rd at the end of the first 20-lap segment in the Shootout. He pushed his teammate Jimmie Johnson to the lead late in the segment. However at the start of the final 50-lap segment, Gordon was caught behind Ken Schrader and slipped back to 10th place. Racing in a heavy pack of traffic, Gordon was part of a chain reaction crash on lap 23. Kyle Busch tapped the rear of Mark Martin's car sending him up the track. The drivers checked up, with Gordon hitting the rear of Matt Kenseth's car. The contact severely damaged the oil cooler on Gordon's car, thus ending his day early with a 19th place finish. "I don't know what happened," Gordon said. "I think someonbody checked up and I got in the back of Kenseth. It's a shame because we had a great race car. I was having a blast racing those guys. Unfortunately we didn't get to see what we had for them in the last 50 laps."

Gearing Up In NYC
NEW YORK, NY. (February 7)- - Jeff Gordon visited New York City on Tuesday for a full day of pre-Daytona media hype. With Daytona practice getting underway on Friday, the drivers and teams are making final preparations for the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 19. Gordon started the day with an appearance on "Good Morning America" on ABC. Gordon's DuPont Chevrolet showcar was also on hand for the morning show. From there he made an appearance on ESPN's morning show "Cold Pizza." Later in the day he taped a visit on the "Tony Danza Show," which aired in syndication on Friday. On Monday, Gordon got things started during Fashion Week with a visit to the Oscar de la Renta show with girlfriend Ingrid Vandebosch.

Gift Benefits Playroom
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 4)- - Jeff Gordon was in North Carolina on Friday to receive a donation check for the new Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital at Northeast Medical Center in Concord, N.C. The Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports Inc. donated $200,000 towards the playroom portion of the children’s hospital. In addition to helping ease the burden of being in the hospital, the playroom will help enhance the overall process of healing for the patients and their families. "We appreciate WAM's donation to this project," said Gordon. "The children's hospital means a lot to me, and I'm glad they've come on board to lend their support to the hospital and the children of this community." The hospital is slated to open later this year. The auxiliary’s mission is to enrich the lives of women, children, and families through educational and wellness programs.

Leaving Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV. (February 2)- - Jeff Gordon prepared for the March race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with two days of testing at the track. Gordon tested cars 24A and 24B on January 31 and February 1. The cars looked identical to the naked eye. On Tuesday night's undercard, Gordon gave the keynote speech at a Mandalay Bay dinner honoring a gaming executive. Gordon will also test at Richmond International Raceway on April 11-13, and at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 1-2. Fans can watch the Richmond and Charlotte test sessions free of charge from the track's main grandstand. The other tracks on the testing docket for 2006 are Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami.

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