Thinking About Tomorrow
BRISTOL, TN. (February 28)- - The Nextel Cup teams wrapped up the two-day test session at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 1, though the Thursday session lasted just an hour due to rain. The teams tested the new-look "Car of Tomorrow," which will debut at Bristol on March 25 and will be used on select tracks during the 2007 season. For Jeff Gordon, it means a switch from the familiar Monte Carlo brand to the Impala. Gordon was one of 50 teams to take to the track in Bristol for the test session. During the Wednesday morning session, Gordon turned the 6th fastest lap. He was 22nd in the afternoon session. "I am not complaining about speed, I think we are going to be one of the best cars and one of the teams to beat when the COT comes around to race," Gordon said. "But it is quite a bit different than what we currently have. It is hard to go backwards, but in a lot of ways, it is actually stepping back and trying to create aerodynamics we had years ago but put a wing and a splitter on the car."
West Coast Offense
THE OC. (February 25)- - Unsatisfied with how their setup from practice would handle the much colder temperatures and cloudy skies on raceday, the DuPont crew changed the setup significantly before the race began, and Jeff Gordon paid the price. He complained that the car was too tight, and the crew made major changes on two of the first three pit stops to get the car to turn, sacrificing track position for better handling. By lap 50 Gordon had worked his way back into the top 20; after a Sterling Marlin spin and an excellent pitstop, Gordon restarted 8th on lap 59. As other cars suffered significant engine woes in the cold temperatures and Jimmie Johnson struggled with ignition issues, Gordon moved steadily up into the top-5. As the race neared lap 150, Gordon led briefly and dueled with Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth in the top-3. Gordon fell back a bit as the car tightened up, so crew chief Steve Letarte made another significant trackbar adjustment on lap 195. Unfortunately, the change didn't agree with that set of tires, and Gordon reported that his car had become extremely loose. As night fell and the rain moved in, the track freed up even more and Gordon fell back to 7th, but recovered to 4th on a pit stop at lap 228. During a red flag segment, Gordon and Letarte debated strategy but decided to stay out for track position. Racing restarted with four laps to go. Gordon jumped to the outside and 2nd place on the restart, but wasn't able to catch Matt Kenseth for the win.
Slamming 500 Finish
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 19)- - Sunshine and cool breezes arenít generally bad things, but for Jeff Gordon they proved to be a formidable obstacle in the Daytona 500. Gordon started 39th in the field and, demonstrating considerable patience, had worked up to 21st by lap 20. After a four-tire pit stop, he was able to work his way up closer to the top 10, and when crew chief Steve Letarte called for a track bar adjustment during a lap 78 pit stop, Gordon was hopeful that better times were ahead. Gordon raced ahead as far as 8th as he attempted to push the outside lane on the restart, but he wore out his right side tires too early in doing so, causing the car to become extremely loose. Gordon dropped back as far as 36th before another pit stop allowed the team to undo the track bar adjustment and add tape to the nose. A caution with 27 laps to go gave Gordon four fresh tires and hope for the restart. With 16 laps to go, Gordon ran over debris from a multi-car chain-reaction wreck and pitted for four tires. The restart came with 10 to go. Gordon dove to the inside and quickly moved up on the field but got hung up behind Boris Said, who could not find a lane to race in. A caution came out at lap 195 when Reed Sorensonís car leaked oil forcing Jamie McMurray to check up and ignited a four-car wreck. Gordon interjected some unintentional comedy by attempting to clean his windshield from inside the car. The hope for a great comeback was thwarted on the restart. Coming off turn four on the final lap, Gordon was in 8th, but chaos ensued after Kyle Busch spun in 3rd place. Sliding across the finish line after contact with Elliott Sadler on the last lap, Gordon's car was hit twice more after crossing the line but he was still credited with a 10th place finish. Kevin Harvick went on to edge Mark Martin by a nose at the finish line to celebrate his first Daytona 500 win.
By The OC Girl
SOUTH FLORIDA. (February 18)- - The relative malaise of the first 400 miles of the Daytona 500 set the stage for a wild final 40 laps under the lights. Jeff Gordon made a late run into the top-10 and may have scored a top-5 if he could have avoided the last lap crash. However, in the middle of a pack he had nowhere to go. "We were fast, we had a good race car but we couldn't show it because the handling wasn't that good at the start of the race and we could never get to the front," Gordon said. "But then the lights came on and it went crazy. We had short runs and everybody was handling good and with that green-white-checker you knew it was going to get wild. I couldn't see exactly what happened in front of me. I saw three cars in front of me - I was trying to push, I think, the #38 car through there - but they closed the gap and all of a sudden there were cars going everywhere."
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 16)- - Jeff Gordon's car failed the post-race inspection following his victory in the Duel at Daytona. Gordon forfeited the fourth starting position. Approximately an hour after the race, crew chief Steve Letarte was called to the technical inspection bay in the garage area to confer with NASCAR officials regarding the height of the car. Gordon's car was deemed close to an inch too low, according to NASCAR officials, due to the fact that a bolt on the shock fastener was misaligned by the raceteam. No fines or point deductions were assessed.
Fun While It Lasted
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (February 16)- - Jeff Gordon's fourth career victory in the Duel at Daytona was his most dramatic of the four. A final lap pass on Kurt Busch in turn four secured the victory. Gordon started the qualifying race in fourth and hooked up with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Busch at the outset. He briefly moved to second, but dropped back to fourth after Busch pulled out of line. A caution flag on lap 25 brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted in fourth, but slipped to sixth before a caution flag with 10 laps to go in the 60-lap event. While the leaders stayed out, Gordon came onto pit road for two tires. He restarted in 11th with seven laps to go and hooked up in a draft with Frank Kimmel for a few laps. With four laps to go, he moved into the middle line and drafted behind Carl Edwards up to sixth place. On lap 57, he darted to the outside behind David Stremme with help from J.J. Yeley. As the cars came to the white flag, Gordon moved ahead of Stremme and into fourth place. Down the backstretch, he got a push from Stremme and shot to the inside of Kurt Busch in turn three in a bid for the race lead. "I didn't think we had the car to do it today," Gordon said. "We got shuffled back a couple of times and really got a big push. Taking those two tires and getting a lot of help-- from David Stremme and J.J. Yeley-- there's a few guys who really gave us some big pushes. I got to the outside every time Yeley got behind me and it worked out in our favor."
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (Feburary 11)- - Jeff Gordon's 2007 campaign got off to a disappointing start in the Budweiser Shootout. Starting 11th, Gordon raced his way as high as seventh place in the first 20-lap segment, but fell to the back when temperatures in the engine reached 260 degrees. Gordon had reported a push in turns one and two, and then, more ominously, a loud pop as he downshifted when the yellow flag came out. While the crew removed tape and adjusted the handling of the car in the ten-minute break, the night didn't improve. Gordon didn't come in to top off for fuel when there was one lap to the restart, thinking too many cars had pitted ahead of him, and crew chief Steve Letarte told him to start saving fuel. After the restart, Gordon's line moved briefly forward before he was shuffled into the middle in a three-wide pack. Gordon dropped back to save his tires, then reported to the crew that his engine was malfunctioning. An intermittent electrical short caused Gordon's engine to shut off as he hit the notorious bumps on the Daytona track, and no amount of manipulating ignition switches, battery switches, or the kill switch on the steering wheel could keep his power plant running. On lap 34, Gordon retired for the evening, disappointment evident in his and Letarte's voices, as the mysterious mechanical gremlins that haunted his team in 2006 proved they had not been vanquished in the off-season. "I'm glad it didn't happen in the middle of a big pack," Gordon said. "We had one of those nights going anyhow. We were overheating and then we had some handling issues, so it wasn't our night."
Fifteen Years With DuPont
WILMINGTON, DE. (Feburary 6)- - The longest-running driver/sponsor relationship in NASCAR enters its 15th season in 2007. DuPont and Jeff Gordon have been synonymous together since signing their original deal late in 1992 when the company decided to put its corporate brand behind Gordon, then a rookie 21-year-old driver from California. Since then, the team has captured four championships and has not missed a single race since its first start at the final event of the 1992 season. "Our NASCAR sponsorship has delivered tremendous benefits for the DuPont brand and many of our individual products and businesses over the years," said John McCool, vice president and general manager of DuPont Refinish. "Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon understand marketing -- that's a major factor in the success of the DuPont Motorsports program."
Area 51 Revisited
LAS VEGAS, NV. (February 1)- - Jeff Gordon concluded a two-day test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on January 31. Nearly every Nextel Cup team was on hand to test at the newly reconfigured 1.5-mile oval. The infield and racing surface have been rebuilt since last March's NASCAR event weekend, which means teams found a narrower track, higher banking and updated garages. "I like the banking," Gordon said. "I like the configuration and the transitions, but it is certainly rough, which kind of like Jimmie Johnson said, there can be good things and bad things from that. It creates challenges. If it was just perfectly smooth, you could really have kind of a one-groove, single-file racetrack going here, and that's certainly not what any of us want."
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