Winter 2012 News

Short Notice
Daytona 500 - Daytona Int'l Speedway. Finish: 40th

A blown engine on lap 81 doomed Jeff Gordon to his worst finish in nearly four years. Gordon finished 40th due to the problem, which was his worst Daytona 500 finish since 1996.

Gordon started 16th and moved to 13th by the end of lap 1. He evaded Jimmie Johnson's spinning car on the second lap which collected six drivers -- including Danica Patrick in her Cup series debut. After the restart, Gordon fell back to 17th on the low line in the draft. Ryan Newman's spin on lap 12 brought out the second caution flag. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting pit road in 16th place. On lap 30, he moved to the outside line and drafted up to 9th behind Greg Biffle. He remained in the top-10 and led a lap during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 59. A debris caution slowed the field just three laps later. On lap 79, Gordon moved into the top-5 behind Denny Hamlin on the outside line. However, the engine blew on Gordon's car on lap 81, thus ending his night.

As the race progressed, a two-hour red flag delay was necessitated on lap 160 after Juan Pablo Montoya spun under caution and hit the jet dryer on the track. The fuel erupted in a blaze that required extensive track cleanup. As the laps wound down, the clock ticked near 1 am on the east coast. Matt Kenseth held off Dale Earnhardt Jr and Greg Biffle for his second Daytona 500 victory.

Turning point
A puff of smoke followed by fire out of the pipes on lap 81 signaled the end of Jeff Gordon's night at Daytona.

JG's comments

"There has been so much reliability testing that if we had seen some high temps or some high water pressure, then I would have kind of expected some of this to happen. But, I was actually seeing some surprising low temps and low pressures. I don't know, maybe something was off there. Boy, it is a shame. Our car was really strong. We were just biding our time and being patient and working with guys. Every once in a while we could get up there to the front. But, we weren't even really trying at that time. You're racing out there, but in order to actually make a big move to get to the lead, you have to push. Then you do take a risk of getting the temps up. It just wasn't time to do that. But, we were in a great position. Great pit stop there. I just have to thank Drive To End Hunger for everything they do for all the older Americans dealing with hunger issues. Thank DuPont. Thank Pepsi Max and Chevrolet; all of our sponsors. This is not the way we wanted to start the season or the Daytona 500. So we'll go on to Phoenix."

"My temps were looking good. Temps are such an issue here right now at Daytona. But all the temps looked good. All the gauges looked good. Just kind of came out of nowhere. First it popped and then it went up in a big ball of flames. So, you know that is down in the bottom end, and that is never good. So, I knew our night was done for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I can't thank them enough for all they do for the older Americans dealing with hunger issues; DuPont and Pepsi Max, Quaker State, Chevrolet; all of our sponsors. Gosh, I am just so disappointed. It's not the way we wanted to start this season or the Daytona 500, and it is a shame to be out like this."

"Well, lap one got everybody's attention. I don't know what happened. Who got in the back of Jimmie (Johnson). I just saw him get turned sideways. After that everybody was using their heads. You have got guys that are racing the bottom line and trying to manage their temperatures. Then, you have got guys on the outside that are able to manage their temps a little bit better, which is where I was. But, it takes a little bit more of kind of a team effort to get that lane up to the front. Most everybody that I was around looked like they were just doing what they needed to do to get to the end of this race. I can promise you, the end of this race is going to be intense. I was really looking forward to being a part of that battle."

"The good thing is you can go back-up your temps and everything. My gauges all looked good. I was not having any temp issues at all and no water pressure issues. If anything, it was alarmingly low. We are going to diagnosis that and we can get a lot more information with the new EFI system. Anytime you have a failure like this you want to get as much information, valuable information; that you can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

"Yeah, that was strange. I haven't seen it. I just saw Jimmie (Johnson) get turned and it was really unfortunate for him. I know some other people got caught up in that. From that point on, everybody was really being calm and using their heads. The race was going along really smooth. The bottom line seemed to be able to maintain a little bit faster pace, but guys had to watch their temps a lot more. The outside lane had to work together as a team a little bit more to try to get up there, but you didn't have to watch your temps as much. We were in the perfect position as far as I am concerned. It's calm right now. It's going to get insane. The only way you are going to be able to win this race is to really push hard. The cars, especially if the tires have some laps on them, they donít drive very well when you start pushing."

Hot Water
Gatorade Duel - Daytona Int'l Speedway. Finish: 8th

Jeff Gordon started third and remained on the inside line behind Casey Mears for the first 10 laps. After slipping to 9th place, Gordon moved to the outside line in a draft behind Elliott Sadler. On lap 16, Sadler got loose and Gordon drafted behind Dave Blaney in 7th place. However, with his water temperature rising in traffic, Gordon dropped back to 14th place on lap 25 and drafted with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne.

Gordon moved to the inside behind Kurt Busch at the halfway point. He was unable to run as the pusher in the draft due to the water temperature spiking. Gordon pulled to the high line on lap 35 and entered the top-10. Gordon came to pit road on lap 41 for right side tires and fuel. Following the stops, Gordon ran distantly behind the lead drafting pack in 9th place. He took 8th from Ryan Newman with 9 laps to go. Gordon came across the line in 8th place and will start 16th in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Turning point
After Gordon's water temperature spiked before the halfway point in the traffic, the day became an exercise in survival as Gordon brought the car home in one piece. The temperature issue on a warm day was not unexpected and likely would have been helped if Gordon could have led the draft. However, due to his position in traffic, he was unable to do so.

JG's comments
"It wasn't a lot of fun for us. We really struggled keeping the temperatures down. Once we got hot we just really were along for the ride. You know, it looked like the guys up front did gas and go's. We have to look at that as well. It just wasn't' the day we were hoping for, but we have a fast race car."

Appetite For Destruction
Bud Shootout - Daytona Int'l Speedway. Finish: 15th

Jeff Gordon started 14th and locked into a draft behind Jeff Burton for the first 6 laps. Gordon ran 3-wide and moved to 10th on lap 7. A melee in turn two collected 9 cars, with Gordon making light contact with Matt Kenseth in front of him and Juan Pablo Montoya along side while diving low to avoid major damage. A tire rub on the left side was fixed on pit road during the caution period. Gordon restarted in 15th place and moved into the top-10 by following Kurt Busch. However, Busch moved to the center line on lap 16 and Gordon stayed on the low line to hook up with Joey Logano. On lap 17, Gordon moved to the center and drafted with Jimmie Johnson. A drafting push from his Hendrick Motorsports teammate thrust Gordon back into the top-10 on lap 21. Gordon locked into a draft with Kyle Busch before moving ahead into 3rd place two laps later. He finished the opening 25-lap segment in 2nd place behind Jamie McMurray.

After repairs to the left side of the car during the 10-minute break, Gordon restarted on the outside of the front row to begin the final 50-lap segment. Gordon was pushed to the lead by Kyle Busch when the green flag waved. He led two laps before being shuffled out of the lead pack. He slipped to 13th before a caution for Clint Bowyer's spin with 44 laps to go. Gordon came to pit road for a two-tire change and restarted 13th. He drafted behind Johnson and moved back into the top-10 with 38 laps to go. After Johnson moved low, Gordon was without a drafting partner, but received a push from Joey Logano to hold his spot in the top-10. Gordon then worked behind Martin Truex on the high line and moved into the top-5. When Truex went low, Gordon stayed up high to push Jamie McMurray to the lead. With 33 to go, Gordon got caught in the middle line and dropped through the pack before Kurt Busch helped with a draft. He steadily worked back to the leaders and got a drafting push from Dale Earnhardt Jr to take the lead. After leading for 2 laps, the pair was overtaken before re-grouping with 26 to go. Gordon led again before being shuffled deeper in the pack with 24 to go. He lined up behind Earnhardt Jr in 7th place with 21 laps to go. With 20 laps to go, he avoided a multi-car wreck coming off turn two and advanced to 4th on the track. Gordon stayed on track and restarted in the lead with 14 to go. With drafting help from Johnson directly behind him, Gordon was able to pull out to the race lead. He remained there in single-file formation until Kyle Busch moved by with 4 laps to go. With 2 to go, Tony Stewart moved into the lead with a push from McMurray. Gordon drafted behind Busch entering turn 3. After a nudge from Gordon, Busch got loose on the inside line. Gordon drifted up the track and was turned sideways by Kurt Busch's car. He hit the outside wall at a dangerous head-on angle, before being clipped by Johnson's car. Gordon's Chevrolet turned on its side for nearly 1000 feet before flipping end-over-end 3 times. Gordon climbed out of the destroyed Chevrolet unscathed.

Turning point
After avoiding two major wrecks, Gordon was unable to escape a third incident with 2 laps to go. It was the first time his car flipped over in a NASCAR Cup series race in his 20-year career. Make no mistake - Hendrick Motorsports builds fast cars. But, even more important than that, they build safe cars.

*JG led more laps in the 2012 Bud Shootout than he had in the previous 7 Shootout events combined.

JG's comments

ďIt was just getting down to the end of the race and it was time to go. Me and Jimmie were looking good there. We knew those guys were coming, and once Kyle got in front of me, I was just trying to keep Jimmie on me and trying to stay with Kyle. Every time I got to Kyleís bumper, he just started getting so sideways, like he was a lot tonight. And I thought he was going to wreck. I saw him start to spin, so I went wide, not knowing someone had gotten to my outside. That got me into those guys and into the wall and along for a ride. And then Kyle wins the race, so it was a pretty wild and crazy way to get it all started. It was certainly an exciting finish, but not the way our [team] wants to get the 2012 season started. It was a wild night. Our car was really strong and we kept working our way up to the front so I was really happy about that. We had ourselves in a good position with Jimmie (Johnson) behind us. And then the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) got a run and got in front of us and I was on his bumper. Every time I got to him and was pushing him he started getting out of control and we got into (Turn) 3 and he started to lose it. I went to go around him and two guys were on the outside of me and I collected them and turned me into the wall and then I was just along for the ride."

"Yeah, this was not how I wanted to start the 2012 season; I've never been upside down in one of these cars. The hit to the wall was much harder than the rest of it. The roll was pretty soft and pretty easy. The protection we have inside of these cars is amazing because I didnít even hardly feel any of it. The toughest part is when you're laying upside down and you can't get out of the car. The roof was caved-in a little bit and that was no fun."

"It's pretty wild and crazy but I mean I like this better than what we had last year, definitely. We all knew that we were going to be hooking-up and doing the tandem drafting toward the end of the race and there's no real stopping that. It's now just about not overheating. At the beginning of the race, I was really concerned because we were over-heating and I wasn't even pushing anybody. So as we got a little bit closer to the front and started being a little smarter with it, it was working out fine. I was having a great time. My car was awesome. We were where we needed to be to win this race. So, this was unfortunate what happened."

"I was joking with somebody. I said he was the one wrecking and I was trying to avoid and I was the one who ended-up wrecking and he wins the race (laughs)."

"I am fine. The safety of these cars is unbelievable. That is the first time I have been upside down in 19 or 20 years. I am glad it ended the way that it did with a nice soft rollover. It was great racing out there tonight. A wild finish and we were in a position to have a shot at winning this thing. That is what I feel bad about. Our car was really strong. I had Jimmie Johnson pushing me; we were looking good then those guys came up there and Kyle (Busch) got in front of me. I was staying with him, but he was wagging all over the place. I thought he was going to wreck so I went wide and collected a couple of guys on the outside of me. I'm sorry to those guys and it turned me into the wall, then Kyle (Busch) ends up winning the race. It was a pretty exciting way to start off 2012, but not the way we wanted to start it off."

"We were just getting down to the end of the race and it was time to go. Me and Jimmie (Johnson) were looking good there. We knew those guys were coming and once Kyle (Busch) got in front of me, I was just trying to keep Jimmie on me and try to stay with Kyle. Every time I got to Kyle's bumper, he just started getting so sideways like he was a lot tonight. I thought he was going to wreck. I saw him start to spin, so I went to go wide, not knowing that somebody had gotten to my outside. That turned me into those guys and into the wall. And along for a ride, we went. And then Kyle ends up winning the race. So it was a pretty wild and crazy way to get it all started. It was certainly an exciting finish to the race and so Iím excited about that."

"Well, the difference now is that weíre still bump-drafting. We just canít do it for long periods of time. So now weíre doing it in packs. And so you get on the straightaway. You push a little bit. And once the tires get a little bit of heat in them and we have less downforce, so the cars are moving around a lot. So youíve got to be real careful with how you push and when you push and it's definitely going to take some patience. But I was having a blast out there. Our car was awesome. We had a car that could win this race and so thatís got me excited about tomorrow for next week."

Drive For Five: Take 11
February 16 - - The 2012 NASCAR season begins with Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. After coming up short once again in his quest for a fifth championship last year, Jeff Gordon heads into the new season with a sense of optimism in his second season with crew chief Alan Gustafson. Gordon is a two-time winner of the Shootout, having claimed victories in 1994 and 1997. The series will hold its annual Media Day on Thursday afternoon, followed by two practice sessions on Friday. A random draw will determine the starting lineup for Saturday night's exhibition race.
Thursday Q&A comments

Nod To History
February 10 - - The "special" Jeff Gordon/DuPont 20th anniversary paint scheme features a glimpse of the driver's three-decade career with the company. Few could have predicted when the rainbow-themed car was unveiled on a cool afternoon in Rockingham, North Carolina, in October 1992 that Gordon would go on to re-write several NASCAR records. The special paint scheme features the familiar rainbow colors on the hood that were a staple of the DuPont Chevrolet from 1992-2000. The paint scheme then fades to blue near the door with flames, which highlight Gordon's 2001 title season. The rear quarterpanels feature the familiar black, which Gordon has sported for the past few years. The car will not appear on track, but will be issued as a diecast during the summer.

Jeff Gordon/DuPont 20th anniversary special paint scheme

The New 24 Crew
February 5 - - Jeff Gordon has a "new look" pit crew for 2012. Dion Williams and Cory DeMarco are the new rear tire carrier/changer combination. Cory comes over from the Earnhardt/Ganassi #1 team. Dion was inactive from the over-the-wall crew in 2011. Gene Cornwell moves from the rear to the front tire carrier position. Chad Avrit is the new front tire changer. He was a tire changer for Red Bull Racing last year. Bailey Walker returns as the jackman, and Brad Pickens returns as the gasman. The former #24 front tire changer/carrier combination of Kelly Kellis and Michael Oxendine were moved to the #5 team with Kasey Kahne.

Haul For The Cure
February 5 - - The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation has partnered with DuPont to have a race hauler at all NASCAR tracks in 2012 and 2013 to raise awareness of their mission to find a cure for pediatric cancer. If you'll be attending a race in the 2012 season, please look for the hauler!
JGCF Hauler pictures

Gordon Wins NMPA Spirit Award
January 23 - - Jeff Gordon was named as the winner of the 2011 National Motorsports Press Association's Spirit Award. The award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership. In addition to three victories on the track, Gordon made two trips to Africa in 2011 -- to study the refugee problem in the Congo, and to help build a pediatric cancer center at a hospital in Rwanda. This is the first time that Gordon has won the award.
Previous winners

Celebrating 20 With DuPont
January 21 - - Jeff Gordon, executives of DuPont and Hendrick Motorsports, and artist Sam Bass unveil the new DuPont paint scheme on Saturday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The new scheme celebrates a 20-year partnership between the group, and marks the third major redesign of the iconic #24 DuPont Chevrolet. The unveiling took place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. Gordon joined NASCAR legend Richard Petty to discuss the afternoon in November 1992 when Gordon made his debut in the rainbow-colored DuPont Chevrolet, just as Petty was concluding his racing career.
Press release

Book Of Knowledge
January 14 - - Jeff Gordon wrapped up pre-season testing at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday afternoon. After single-car runs were the order of the day on Thursday, Gordon turned the fastest laps in both the morning and afternoon sessions. on Friday, he teamed up with Kasey Kahne in a two-car draft to tour the track at more than 205 miles per hour. Following testing on Friday, Gordon participated in a media Q&A session, and then signed autographs during FanFest. Rules changes on Saturday slowed the cars, but Gordon still turned the fastest single car lap and established himself as the odds-on favorite for the Daytona 500 pole position.

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