February 2009 Random News

East To West
February 26 - - Jeff Gordon attended a National Guard Youth Foundation event in Washington, D.C. on February 24 with a number of high-profile names including Dale Earnhardt Jr, singer Kellie Pickler, and actress Kerri Turner. He helped auction off a VIP package with Earnhardt Jr. The foundation provides training and education to high school dropouts who have decided to pursue higher education, enter the workforce or join the military

Green Machine
February 26 - - In an effort to both set an example and reduce his carbon footprint on the planet, Jeff Gordon drives a hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe and supports car manufacturers evolving with green technology -- and federally mandated regulations which could change the face of NASCAR racing. During an interview at the National Guard Youth Foundation event on February 24, Gordon said automakers have to work to produce what customers want. "I think there's a lot of smart people that work with the auto industry to help them get to those numbers and achieve that, and I think it's going to be a joint effort," Gordon said. "It's a team effort from the automakers of what the customers want in the car as well as what's good for the environment and what's going to be environmentally friendly for all of us in general."

Hollywood Nights
February 23 - - Following his runner-up finish at California Speedway on Sunday night, Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch made a quick getaway and were part of the late arriving crowd at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's post-Academy Awards party at the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood. More than 600 of Hollywood's elite attended the gathering, which was highlighted by an auction that raised nearly $4,000,000 for AIDS-related charities. Guests included Sir Ben Kingsley, Claire Danes, Ben Stiller, Quincy Jones, Keifer Sutherland, Whoopi Goldberg, Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria Parker, Kate Beckinsale, Natasha Bedingfield, Josh Groban, Elle Macpherson, Russell Simmons, and Terrell Owens, among others.

Significant Signs Of Improvement
February 21 - - Jeff Gordon's winless drought will continue at least for another week, but his runner-up finish to Matt Kenseth in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway showed that his race team has made significant strides on the downforce tracks over the off-season. "We certainly are going to win if we put cars out there like this," Gordon said. "We still have a little bit of work to do but I'm excited because we ran so good. We made an adjustment that made my car just a little too tight at the end." Gordon started 6th and moved up to 3rd by the end of the second lap. A passing shower slowed the field for 20 minutes before the restart on lap 22. The drivers ran another 20 laps before a rain shower moved in once again. Gordon patiently worked around Kurt Busch on lap 70, and closed in on race leader Jimmie Johnson. Gordon took over the lead with a pass on lap 79. He relinquished the lead after making a green flag pit stop, but re-assumed the point position when pit stops cycled through. He led the race through the halfway point and into another round of green flag stops. A slow pit stop gave the lead to Greg Biffle on lap 127. A caution for a rain shower slowed the field on lap 136. He lost a spot on pit road and restarted 3rd with 100 laps to go. Gordon immediately took second place from Biffle, but fell back to 3rd when Johnson passed four laps later. Another caution for rain slowed the field with 78 laps to go and brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr and Mark Martin both experienced engine problems within five laps of each other, thus putting the DuPont team on notice. With 68 to go, Gordon made his way around Johnson and into the runner-up spot. He then closed in and passed leader Matt Kenseth with 54 to go. However, Kevin Harvick's cut tire and subsequent caution brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon was beaten out of pits by Kenseth and restarted 2nd with 35 laps to go. He closed in on Kenseth, but was unable to get around him in the closing stages.

Day At The Park
February 19 - - Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch headed to Coldwater Canyon Park in Beverly Hills with their daughter Ella in tow on Wednesday afternoon. The outing provided Ella with the chance to rub shoulders and exchange pleasantries with the next generation of Hollywood royalty. The park is famous for hosting the children of celebrities and also provides a paparazzi-induced photo-op for their parents. Gwen Stefani's son Kingston is one of the regulars, along with David Beckham's sons, Jessica Alba's daughter Honor, the children of Heidi Klum and Seal, and Sharon Stone and her sons.
Video: Sandbox and Slides

Kenseth Reigns Over Daytona
February 16 - - Matt Kenseth won the rain-shortened Daytona 500 after taking the lead for the first time just one lap before the last caution flag. It was the biggest victory of the 2003 series champion's career. As for Jeff Gordon, it was a rather unsatisfying 13th place finish. Gordon started third and slipped to eighth as the outside line got a run on the opening lap. He remained there in single-file formation until the first caution flag on lap 8 when David Ragan spun Aric Almirola's car entering turn three. Gordon came in for a four-tire change and restarted in 12th place. Gordon worked his way up to 7th by lap 17 as the leaders got into a single-file run. He then moved to the outside line and locked into a draft with Jamie McMurray. At the competition caution on lap 25, Gordon had moved up to 4th. On lap 34, Gordon moved to the high line and pushed Dale Earnhardt Jr, which lasted less than three laps as Gordon dropped to 8th on the outside. He made his way around Jeff Burton and climbed to 7th on lap 42. At the 50-lap mark, Gordon entered the top-5. A caution for Travis Kvapil's cut tire brought the field to pit road on lap 56. Gordon restarted in 3rd behind Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. He pushed Stewart into the lead and then pulled to the outside to get a push from Busch. Gordon inched into the lead on the backstretch on lap 65 before Stewart got a push from the inside line. However, a push from Busch on lap 69 shot Gordon into the lead. Gordon led the event with Busch in tow for the next 10 laps before Joey Logano's wreck coming off turn four. Busch edged Gordon coming off of pit road and re-assumed the lead. On lap 94, Gordon dropped back as the outside line seemed to stall. He slipped to 7th on lap 91 before receiving a push from McMurray. Gordon made a daring move to the bottom with a push from Edwards to move into the runner-up spot on lap 96.

A move to the outside on lap 102 left Gordon hung out to dry and he dropped to 6th. The handling on the car became an issue during a long green flag run as Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth passed on lap 112. Gordon dropped further back as he developed a vibration in the right front tire. On lap 113, Gordon slowed and came to pit road for tires as the right front was essentially used up after just 29 laps at speed due to the camber alignment on the car. Gordon returned to the event one lap down in 38th place. A caution for debris from David Stremme's blown tire on lap 118 gave Gordon a free pass to get back on the lead lap. He restarted at the tail end of the line on lap 125. Earnhardt Jr, who was held a lap for pitting out of his pit stall, had a meltdown after getting blocked and turned Brian Vickers in the middle of the backstretch, collecting more than eight cars in the ensuing melee. The wreck also collected Busch who had led 88 laps. Among those in the wreck were Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Carl Edwards. Since Gordon was running at the tail end, he was able to slow down in time and avoid the mess in turn three.

The restart on lap 132 came as nightfall began enveloping the track. Gordon restarted in 16th and realized that rain was on the way. He ducked behind the lapped car of Johnson and moved up to 8th on the low line. Gordon stayed glued to Johnson's bumper as the teammates helped each other -- Gordon moved up in the standings and Johnson moved within sight of the free pass. Paul Menard slammed the wall on lap 137 to bring out the caution flag. Gordon pitted for tires, thus taking no chances on a long green flag run. Gordon restarted in 22nd place behind Mark Martin. He moved up to 12th on lap 145 before Aric Almirola's spin brought the caution flag back out. Rain began falling with 50 laps to go with Matt Kenseth in the lead, and Gordon back in 13th position. The race was red-flagged on lap 152 and called 20 minutes later.

Back In The High Life Again
February 12 - - All the doors that closed one time have opened up again for Jeff Gordon as he scored the victory in the first Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Thursday afternoon. Gordon's victory assures him of the 3rd starting spot in Sunday's Daytona 500. It was Gordon's first NASCAR series win in 16 months. He ran in the top-3 for nearly the entire 60-lap event. He took the lead for the first time on lap 37, and relinquished the top spot after pit stops with 10 laps to go. Gordon eventually worked his way back to the front with drafting help from Jimmie Johnson, and traded the lead several times with Tony Stewart in the final six laps. A strong drafting push by Joey Logano pushed Gordon back into the lead with two laps to go. Gordon held off Stewart to claim the victory.

Scenes From Speedweeks
February 10 - - It's already been an eventful Speedweeks for Jeff Gordon who dodged several wrecks en route to a 4th place finish in the Bud Shootout last weekend. In addition, Hendrick Motorsports unveiled silver cars in honor of its 25th anniversary season. The drivers took a ceremonial lap around the Daytona track on Saturday morning. Gordon also appeared on 'The Rachael Ray Show' on February 10 with his mom Carol Bickford. They cooked a chicken casserole from a recipe found in 'Pit Stop in a Southern Kitchen.'He spent Monday with his family at Disneyworld in Orlando for an appearance at the Aladdin attraction.

Dodgeball At Daytona
February 7 - - The Budweiser Shootout was an exercise in dodging wrecks for Jeff Gordon en route to an adventurous 4th place finish. Gordon started the 75-lap event from the 28th-- dead last-- position due to a random draw. It didn't take long for trouble to find him as he masterfully dodged the spinning cars of David Ragan, Scott Speed, and Joey Logano in turn three on the opening lap. When the green flag waved, he went from 21st to 4th by lap 20. He dropped to 8th by the end of the first 25-lap segment as the car tightened up. Gordon moved to the low line at the outset of the final 50;lap segment. He got a push from Kyle Busch to briefly take the lead with 46 laps to go, but was shuffled out of the top spot within one lap. After getting forced into a four-wide situation in turn one, Gordon tapped the rear of Greg Biffle's car with 44 to go, sending Biffle into a spin that collected Jeff Burton and Casey Mears. After pit stops, Gordon restarted in 6th place. He flirted with the lead as he pushed Dale Earnhardt Jr ahead, but settled into the outside line in 6th with 30 to go. Elliott Sadler's spin with 20 laps to go brought the field to pit road. Gordon made his way from 5th to the lead, before a tap from Earnhardt Jr. sent him back into traffic. A caution with 10 laps to go brought Gordon to the pits for fresh tires. He restarted in 11th and worked with Kevin Harvick to move into 3rd place with 4 laps to go. With 3 to go, Gordon pulled low to take the lead on the backstretch briefly before Jamie McMurray re-assumed the lead. A caution flag in turn four brought the race to a green/white/checkered conclusion. Gordon started on the outside line on the final restart, but slipped to 8th on the white flag lap. Gordon dodged a wreck in turn three involving Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson and finished the event in 4th.

Leaving The Door Open
February 6 - - Jeff Gordon had to have known the question was coming. In mid-January, former crew chief Ray Evernham was asked about the possibility of working with Gordon again. "If I was going to help somebody, for sure it would be Jeff Gordon," Evernham said. During NASCAR's pre-season Media Day at Daytona International Speedway, Gordon addressed the issue. "We've always stayed great friends and I admire him and he's a sharp guy and he's done a lot, obviously, in this sport," Gordon said. "We're always looking to find ways to make ourselves better. If it was ever the case, it wouldn't be in a crew chief role. If it's an engineer, if it's a team manager, whatever options are out there for anybody we always take them serious. With my experience with Ray being so positive in the past, I certainly wouldn't throw it out. It's not something that is happening, but it's not something that I would ever say never would."

Socialnite In NYC
February 5 - - Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch attended the premiere of 'He's Just Not That Into You' on February 4 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York City. The movie opened nationwide on February 6 and stars Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck, and Scarlett Johansson, among others.

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