February 2010 News

Four By Two
February 28 - - Jeff Gordon led 218 of the 267 laps of the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a late two-tire change cost him as Jimmie Johnson tracked him down and passed with 17 laps to go. Johnson claimed his second consecutive win.

Gordon started on the inside of the front row due to polesitter Kurt Busch opting for the outside. Gordon passed Busch for the lead exiting turn four and picked up the 5-point bonus for leading a lap. The first caution waved on lap 2 for an incident involving Kevin Conway. Gordon chose the outside line for the restart on lap 6 and pulled away from Busch. His lead ballooned to nearly 3 seconds on lap 25, and 7 seconds on lap 40. A caution for Mike Bliss' crash on lap 46 erased Gordon's lead and brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon held onto the lead through the round of pit stops.

Gordon opted for the outside on the restart and dropped to 2nd before a track issue forced a caution within one lap. He started on the outside of Greg Biffle on lap 57 and assumed the lead. He led until a caution on lap 85 for Sam Hornish's spin. Gordon lost two spots on pit road and restarted in 3rd on lap 90. Shortly after the restart, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray crashed in turn three as Gordon moved to the runner-up position. On the restart, Gordon made a bid for the lead on the outside of Matt Kenseth and re-assumed the top spot on lap 100. Another track issue brought the caution out and the leaders to pit road. Gordon blundered by overshooting his stall and had to back-up on a fuel only stop. He exited pit road in the 3rd position. However, Gordon redeemed himself on the restart by regaining the lead on lap 114. After clinching the bonus for leading the most laps, Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop with 106 laps to go and cycled through the sequence as the leader.

Gordon remained in the lead and came to pits for a green flag stops with 54 laps to go. Gordon's lead was erased with 36 laps to go when Kevin Conway hit the turn two wall. The leaders came to pit road and Gordon opted for two tires. He departed with the lead, but was tracked down and passed by Jimmie Johnson with 17 laps to go. Kevin Harvick passed with 4 laps to go to put Gordon back in 3rd. Johnson pulled away to win his second straight race and 49th of his career. Gordon finished 3rd and moved up to 13th in the points standings -- a gain of 9 positions. "Had more guys taken two tires, I think we could have got them," Gordon said. "That's what makes leading so tough sometimes. We fought them off as long as we could. We were awesome all day, the pit stops were awesome. I know Steve Letarte is beating himself up over the two-tires, but if some other guys took two..."

February 22 - - The In-N-Out fast food chain is one of the most popular stops for the NASCAR teams on visits to Southern California. Unfortunately for Jeff Gordon, In-N-Out described his engine in the last 75 laps of the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, California. Gordon was running 4th when his engine began missing. He wound up finishing 20th in a race won by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon started 28th and worked his way into the top-20 within four laps. He steadily worked through traffic and ran 16th on lap 11. Gordon took 12th from Jamie McMurray on lap 21, and entered the top-10 on lap 30 with a pass on Mark Martin. Two laps later he climbed to 8th. Gordon came to pit road on lap 39 for a green flag stop. When stops cycled through, Gordon ran 6th on lap 44, but slipped to 8th just three laps later while battling a loose condition. A debris caution on lap 59 brought the field to pit road. Gordon opted for four tires and departed in 5th place.

Gordon dropped back to 10th on the restart after getting squeezed on the inside line. After the field became strung out he regrouped and took 8th from Greg Biffle on lap 65. However, a back and forth battle with Biffle moved Gordon up the track and back to 10th. Gordon came back and passed Biffle for 9th on lap 68, before Biffle returned the favor one lap later. Gordon patiently moved around traffic and ran 7th on lap 80. He used the high line in the corner to take 6th from Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 86. Kasey Kahne's spin on lap 93 brought the caution and the leaders came to pit road. Gordon exited pit road in 4th place, but once again lost spots on the inside line and ran 11th at lap 100. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 9th place - distantly behind leaders Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

A caution for Montoya's engine brought the caution and the field to pit road on lap 139. However, Gordon stayed on the track and collected a 5 point bonus for leading. On the restart, Gordon chose the outside line and maintained the top spot until Ryan Newman blew an engine on lap 147. He lost the lead on the restart as Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch went by on lap 154. With 90 laps to go, Johnson went around Gordon to take 3rd place. Gordon battled back and took 3rd from Johnson with 88 to go. Trouble began with 75 laps to go when Gordon radioed about an engine problem. He slowed dramatically and came to pit road with 72 laps go with the oil temperature rising. The caution waved for rain with 70 to go and Gordon moved up to 4th due to drivers coming to pit road for fuel. The field ran under caution for nearly 20 minutes before the green flag waved with 50 laps to go.

The engine once again produced problems and Gordon faded back in traffic until the engine picked up again. With 35 laps to go, Gordon dropped back to 21st position as the engine was down a cylinder. One lap later, Gordon came to pit road for tires. Crew chief Steve Letarte speculated it was likely a spark plug problem with the car. Gordon restarted in 25th place with 20 to go. He moved around slower cars and up to 18th with 11 laps to go, before dropping two spots on lap 241. Gordon finished the event in 20th. The last time Gordon started a season with two sub-15th place finishes was 1996.

Long Day, Long Night
February 15 - - It was a long day into night at Daytona International Speedway as an asphalt problem in turn two delayed the Daytona 500 into a night finish. For Jamie McMurray, it turned out to be his finest moment as a NASCAR driver, while Jeff Gordon struggled late in the event with traffic and crashed on the final lap.

Gordon started in the rear of the field and moved up to 33rd by lap 5. On lap 8, he dove onto the track apron to avoid a multiple car crash triggered by Brad Keselowski's spin in turn two. Gordon pitted for tires and restarted in 31st on lap 13. He worked the draft and moved up with Kyle Busch to 23rd on lap 30. Five laps later, he lost Busch in the draft, but moved to 21st position. Gordon entered the top-20 on lap 40 as a green flag pit stop sequence began. He came to pit road for tires and fuel on lap 50.

Gordon rode in 20th for the next 15 laps as the field strung out in a single-file line. Joe Nemechek's spin on lap 67 brought the caution, and the field came to pit road. Gordon exited pit road in 15th place and restarted there on lap 70. However, he fell to 19th and moved up to the high line on lap 74. Mike Bliss' spin on lap 78 brought the caution out and the field returned to pit road for tires. Gordon changed two tires and restarted in 5th on lap 82. He drafted with Martin Truex and moved into 3rd on lap 88 behind Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch. Clint Bowyer gave Gordon a drafting push, and Gordon moved to the outside to try for the race lead. However, Busch moved up in line and took the race lead with help from Gordon. Bowyer gave Gordon drafting help to take the race lead on lap 98. Gordon led the race at the halfway point, before Bowyer passed on lap 101. Gordon settled into the low line behind Kevin Harvick in 3rd place. Gordon made a bid for the lead and got shuffled back to 5th place on lap 108. He fell to 9th on lap 111 before John Andretti's cut tire resulted in a caution flag on lap 117. Gordon changed four tires and departed in 11th place. The race was red flagged for nearly two hours after a chunk of asphalt needed replacement in turn two.

When the race restarted, the sun was setting in the western sky and the track temperature was noticeably cooler. Gordon hung to the low line and moved up to 7th with 73 to go. Gordon stayed behind Truex in the draft and moved up to 5th with 63 laps to go. Five laps later, AJ Allmendinger got loose underneath Gordon exiting turn two. Allmendinger spun toward the inside of the track, barely avoiding the left rear of Gordon's car. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting pit road in 5th place. On the restart, Gordon hooked up in a tight draft with Elliott Sadler on the high line. With 52 to go, Gordon pushed Sadler alongside Truex for the race lead. Two laps later, he bumped Sadler aside to take 3rd place. Gordon tried to move to the middle line with 48 laps remaining, but got hung out in the draft. He slipped back to 16th place before hooking up in a draft with Mark Martin and moving up to 12th. A caution at the 400-mile mark was for a problem with the asphalt patch in turn two. The race was red-flagged once again with drivers exiting their cars for an extended period.

The drivers returned to their cars at 6:30pm/eastern time for a finish under the lights. The lead lap cars came to pit road with Gordon opting for two tires and departing in 4th place. He restarted in 5th with 32 laps to go because Scott Speed did not pit. With 16 laps to go, Gordon worked his way around Speed on the inside line but had no drafting help. He fell to 8th before getting in line behind Jamie McMurray. He dropped to 10th on the high line behind Truex with 12 laps to go. Five laps later, Ryan Newman, Travis Kvapil, and Elliott Sadler crashed on the backstretch to bring out the caution. Gordon came to pit road for two tires and restarted in 13th place with 3 laps to go. On the restart, Bill Elliott crashed in turn three to bring out the caution and set up a green/white/checkered flag finish. Gordon lined up 15th for the GWC restart. Kasey Kahne wrecked coming off turn two (no mercy!) on the first GWC attempt as Kevin Harvick pushed his way through Greg Biffle and Martin Truex to take the race lead.

On the second GWC restart, Harvick got a push from Carl Edwards to take the racfe lead. However, the outside line zoomed by as Biffle pushed McMurray into the lead. McMurray held off a furious charge by Dale Earnhardt Jr to take the victory. Gordon wrecked in turn three on the final lap due to Denny Hamlin's front bumper and finished the event in 26th place.

JG post-race comments

"The multiple green-white-checkereds worked for some and not for others. It was just a mess out there. I was real happy with our team, the effort that was put out. Our pit stops, the calls that Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made and our race car. It was really good. We didn't get anything to show for it. Even prior to that, our car was so good, we just couldn't get in the right line. It seemed like if we were in the inside lane, the outside was moving. If we were in the outside lane, the inside was moving. It takes all of those things to be able to go to the front and win here at Daytona. We were going for it and unfortunately it was just a mess out there on the last lap and someone got in our left rear and cut the left rear and away we went. Our car was really good, but it doesn't matter because the green-white-checkered just didn't work our way. Even there in the closing laps, Steve made a great call for the two-tire stop. Our car was driving great but every lane we were in just didn't seem to be the right one. That is what it takes to win the Daytona 500. Congratulations to Jamie (McMurray). I know how much that means to him and that whole team. Obviously a disappointing day for us. Those last laps were bumper cars at 195 miles an hour. There is no other way to describe it. It is crazy. It is moments like that you wish some things were different. That is what we do and you know what, it puts a heck of a show on most of the time and madness the others. You don't want to see races end like that. You want to see a great finish and there was a great finish for the win. From about 10th on back, it was pretty ugly."

"I never had any issues. That was the one thing that went my way today. When the hole started opening up, I was in the outside lane. I could see the cars starting to pull, I don't know, dust, dirt, whatever it was out of it, it started to slip and slide around. It was real unfortunate for the fans. It shows how incredible our fans are to stick around and see that and almost see Dale, Jr. win."

Collateral Damage
February 11 - - Jeff Gordon will go to a backup car for Sunday's Daytona 500 and start at the rear of the field after damaging his primary car during the Gatorade Duel race on Thursday. Gordon finished the event in 10th place, but sustained damage to the front and right side of the DuPont Chevrolet after a chain reaction incident with 7 laps to go.

Gordon started 5th and patiently worked the draft in the opening stages. He received pushes from Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch to take the race lead on two occasions. However, on lap 40, he fell out of the draft and slipped back to 9th. He was running 14th when Michael Waltrip spun coming off turn 4. Regan Smith slowed directly in front of Gordon, who drilled the rear of Smith's car. Gordon then brushed the wall with the right side of the car. He came to pit road for repairs and was able to draft up to 10th place at the finish. On the final lap, Jimmie Johnson got a drafting push from Kyle Busch to take the victory.

Post-race comments

"we had some teammates kinda gang up on us, which is pretty typical. We had a real good effort in the DuPont Chevrolet. I was very pleased. We made some big gains from practice and got ourselves in position but unfortunately got shuffled back there. And then we were just slowly but surely trying to make our way up through. We got a little bit loose that second half of the race and made an adjustment and freed the car up a little too much. I felt like we learned a lot. Unfortunately we tore the car up when Michael Waltrip and Regan Smith got together. I thought the pit stops were good, the communication was good, the car was driving good and we had good speed. The cars are a handful to drive. The extra plate definitely carries a lot of speed off into the corner. We're still seeing a lot of bump-drafting and you've really got to use the tools that NASCAR's is giving us to make the cars handle good too, which means the drivers have got to drive the heck out of them. So that's what I was really happy with. We got shuffled back there at the beginning and we were able to drive back up into the top five and unfortunately we didn't save it. But oh yeah, there's going to be plenty more of that. Usually the 150's are pretty calm. So if that's what it's like, then the fans are in for a treat with the 500."

Tough Sledding
February 6 - - Jeff Gordon started the 2010 NASCAR season with an 6th place effort in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Kevin Harvick won the event for the second year in a row.

Gordon started 23rd and ran toward the rear of the field for the first five laps. He began making his way through traffic and moved up to 10th when the first caution waved on lap 24 for Michael Waltrip's spin on the backstretch. The field came to pit road for the segment break and Gordon debriefed with crew chief Steve Letarte. At the start of the final 50-lap segment, Gordon used the bottom line to hook up in a draft with Jimmie Johnson. On lap 32, Kurt Busch destroyed his second car in 48 hours after getting tapped by Mark Martin. Busch slid through the infield grass and hit the frontstretch wall. Gordon came to pit road for fresh tires under the caution flag.

Gordon advanced to 6th place after the restart moved to the outside line on lap 45. He advanced to 4th after getting drafting help from Johnson. However, he was shuffled out of line and fell back to 15th with 16 laps to go. Gordon advanced back up to 8th before a caution with 6 laps to go for Michael Waltrip's crash. The field came to pit road for two tires with Gordon exiting in 4th place. Since two drivers stayed on the track, Gordon restarted in 6th. The final restart came under green/white/checkered conditions. Entering turn 3, Gordon got into the rear of Greg Biffle who appeared to slow due to a tire issue, and turned the Ford around. Gordon went high to avoid the spinning car and was tagged by the rear of Biffle's car. Gordon hit the wall and lost forward momentum. He crossed the finish line in 6th position.

Jeff's post-race comments
"Oh, man, just a green-white-checkered flag race and the car was good. I got myself in position there a couple of times to where I really thought we might have a shot at it. And then I got shuffled back. I was pretty disappointed. But right there, Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made the right call and we got a great run down the back straightaway. Matt Kenseth was pushing me. I got to Greg and I was just pushing and pushing and pushing; almost had to move to the inside of him; he kind of closed the door there and I was just pushing. We went into the corner and he just spun right out. I don't know if he had a tire go down of just the fact that he was on old tires and couldn't take that kind of a push. They said that bump-drafting is okay now so that's what it's going to take to win the race. He was thanking me for the push and I was trying to push him up there to win the race or finish right there behind him anyway."

"I think guys are going to be a little smarter in the Duels. That's your 500 car. You can't really do much bump-drafting in here at Daytona. You can do it down the straightaways on a two-or-three lap shootout like that. So I would think if there's a caution with a few laps to go, you'll see it. Once we get to the 500, that's a totally different deal. Man, it's the Daytona 500 and everybody is going to be going for it and you're going to see a lot more risk being taken and for good reason. That's an important trophy that we all want. You'll see plenty of action and plenty of bump-drafting."

"The cars were pretty out of control, which was fun at times. You know, you had to really drive them. But we've got to get our car handling maybe a little bit better and the plate was good though. I liked the plate."

"No, no. I don't think you really notice that until you start to spin out. You can ask somebody that did that. I didn't quite do that. It didn't seem to help Greg a lot (laughs). But it kept him on the ground, so that's a good thing."

"No, I just had so many guys stacked up behind me, pushing me, and I was just pushing him. It's hard to say really in that situation without seeing it on camera whether he had a tire going down or not. He made it through Turns 1 and 2 okay and we were pushing him real, real hard. And the fact that they stayed out of there on old tires was definitely going to make his car not handle quite as good. At that point, you don't have a choice. They're pushing you from behind and you're pushing the guy in front of you and when that's the situation, you hope that in Greg's position that you get in there and the car sticks; and in that situation it didn't stick for whatever reason."

"It came around in a hurry, that's for sure. I was wanting to push him; I wasn't wanting to spin him. I hit him real hard one time and it made him go up the track down the straightaway and I almost got to the inside of him. If I could have done that, I think we might have had a shot at the win."

All The Lilacs In Ohio
January 29 - - While the Canadian Motor Speedway plan waits further approval, Jeff Gordon has turned his track design attention to Columbus, Ohio. Jeff Gordon Inc. is part of the design team hoping to bring a 1/2-mile oval, automotive education/research center, and retail complex to the Cooper Stadium site. Ideas for a racetrack were brought in 2008, but noise concerns -- and an economic downturn -- hindered those efforts. Last week, Gordon's stepfather, John Bickford, was dispatched to Ohio for a presentation on the project.

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