February News

Late Race Fade
Daytona 500 - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 20th

Jeff Gordon started on the inside of the first row and moved ahead of polesitter Danica Patrick coming off turn 2. He led a single-file line under the first caution for debris on lap 27. Gordon came to pit road and opted for a two-tire change to hold the top spot. On the restart, Gordon moved up to the outside line to draft with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. He lost the lead on lap 31 when Jimmie Johnson went by on the low line. Gordon slipped in line just ahead of Kahne in 4th place. That turned out to be an advantegous spot when Kyle Busch and Kahne made contact on lap 33 while running 5th and 6th. Kahne spun sideways and collected Juan Pablo Montoya. The ensuing melee collected Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, and Brad Keselowski (who collected minor damage to the front of his car).

Gordon remained on the outside line when racing resumed. At the 100-mile mark, he ran in 6th place. He moved to 4th place in a single-file line on lap 42. He remained there until a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 72. Following stops, Gordon ran 5th in a single-file formation. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 83. Gordon came in for fuel and returned to the event in 7th place. On the restart, Gordon slipped back to 15th place on the high line. At the halfway point, Gordon ran single-file in 14th place. As his water temperature increased, Gordon moved to the inside line and dropped to 19th place on lap 109. Three laps later, he ran in 26th place. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 130. Seven laps later, Gordon dove low sneaked through a multi-car wreck on lap 137 which eliminated Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Terry Labonte, Josh Wise, David Ragan, Austin Dillon, and David Gilliand. Gordon restarted 14th on lap 146 and moved into the top-10 by lap 149.

Gordon ran 6th in single-file with 50 laps to go. He took 5th when Kyle Busch dropped off the pace. Gordon came to pit road for a scheduled two-tire change under the green flag on lap 173. A caution flag for Jeff Burton's crash slowed the field on lap 178 with Gordon in 10th place. On the restart with 19 to go, Gordon held the outside line behind Danica Patrick and moved to 4th place. However, the inside line, led by Jimmie Johnson gained momentum and created side-by-side racing at the front of the field. Gordon was caught in the middle line with 12 to go and dropped back to 12th place behind Joey Logano. Gordon moved up to 9th before a debris caution with 9 laps to go. On the restart with 6 to go, Gordon moved to the middle and pushed Logano. However, he wound up getting pinned in a 3-way situation before clearing two cars. With 3 to go, Gordon lost momentum on the inside line and dropped outside the top-20. He sustained minor damage on the final lap trying to avoid a melee coming off turn 2. Gordon has just 1 top-10 finish in his last 8 starts in the Daytona 500.

Turning point
Gordon was shuffled back in traffic after the final restart with 6 laps to go. He pushed Joey Logano, but wound up losing momentum on the low line and faded beyond 20th place.

JG's Post-Race Comments
"It's pretty frustrating for us. We were in a great position at the start of the race, lost track position, got it back, and felt like we were in a great position to get a top-5 if not a win and battle for it up there. Our car was awesome. Just those last couple of restarts, the lane that we were in just didn't go anywhere. We tried. We tried up the middle and down the bottom. That top lane just seemed to be the way to go. We tried hard but it certainly didn't pay off for us. Pretty frustrating way to end it for us. I know were were a lot better than that. But, a lot better than last year. So we'll take this, go on to Phoenix. I'm really excited about this new Chevy SS and getting to a short track -- or at least a 1-mile racetrack like Phoenix."

Speeding Penalty Costs Gordon
Budweiser Duel - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 12th

Jeff Gordon started on the outside line, which was his choice as the polesitter. He locked into a drafting line with Kyle Busch directly behind him and took the race lead on lap 2. Gordon led a single-file line with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne providing the drafting push. Gordon led the field in single-file until pit stops on lap 40. He opted for right side tires. However, Gordon was assessed a pit road speeding penalty, which resulted in a pass-thru on pit road. The penalty effectively eliminated him from victory contention. He crossed the line in 12th place, approximately half a minute behind race winner Kyle Busch. In Sunday's Daytona 500, Busch will lineup behind Gordon on the starting grid.

Turning point
Gordon came to pit road with the race lead on lap 40, but was assessed a speeding penalty. The pass-thru essentially ended his chances for a victory.

JG's comments
"The car is fast; drove really good. Of course, I was out front the whole time, but there are two things that I take from this. This is why you want to qualify on the front row, because of a little incident like that (pit road speeding penalty). As well as, that is why we race this race. It's nice, because we need to learn that now on the tach, and on pit road to make sure that doesn't happen in the 500."

"I think we just missed. You want to maximize everything you have out there. Every opportunity. You don't want give up anything on pit road, and we were just a little bit too aggressive with our setting. I ran it spot on where it needs to be. They gave us the numbers, it was just a tiny bit over in three segments. It wasn't that we had a problem or anything like that, we just pushed it too hard."

"I would have liked to have been up there with Kasey Kahne. You have got to have somebody go with you; you can't do it by yourself. But you can get a run, definitely. No doubt about it. I knew Kasey was just sitting there behind me just waiting for the right moment and opportunity late in this race. This is a real thinking race now. It comes down to the way it used to. You get yourself in position. Everybody kind of rides, and thinks about what they have. You have to have your car handling pretty good, which is tough to do further back in traffic. It looked like a few guys had a few small issues; nothing major. But it is hard to make it up through the field, and everybody is working together like that in that single file lane. That is the way it used to be. Long enough runs, especially when it's a little warmer and sun out, you are going to be able to make some moves. I was happy to see Kasey get up there at least to second. I think in the closing laps of a run, you start to see some moves happening."

"I was out front, but I learned we have a very fast race car, which is the best thing to learn. Car handled good. Drove good. But, we were out front. The only thing you kind of wish is that you got a little bit further back to see what to expect. But, I feel good. We had a great day. Brought the car back in one piece. We're starting on the front row of Sunday's Daytona 500."

Domino Theory
Sprint Unlimited - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 17th

Jeff Gordon's night in the Sprint Unlimited was a short one as he was eliminated following a crash on lap 15. Gordon started 5th and stayed on the inside line for the opening laps. As the outside line freight-trained by, Gordon dropped to 9th place on lap 5. He fell back to 15th lace on lap 8 while remaining on the inside line. He moved to the outside line and had nowhere to go when Tony Stewart triggered a multi-car incident on lap 15. Gordon was collected in the wreck that also eliminated Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, and Mark Martin.
VID: Multi-car crash on lap 15

Turning point
Tony Stewart thought he was clear. He wasn't.

JG's comments
"Half the battle and goal for this race is to learn something for next week's Duel and the 500. The car, as far back as I was, they become a handful a couple laps before that. But handling wasn't an issue. We had very good handling. We needed a little more speed so we'll work on that. I can't tell if guys are just getting out of control or if they're getting hit or what's going on. But several guys start shuffling to the back and right there I saw somebody get loose on the inside. Then the outside lane was somehow affected by the domino by the time it got back to me, and we were in it."

"I couldn't see much. We were in that bottom lane that just got shuffled back early and so we were just slowly working our way back up there. I saw handling started to become an issue for quite a few guys, a little bit for myself, but not too bad. I just saw somebody get sideways going down into (turn) one and then our lane checked up and they started getting turned and we started wrecking."

"Yeah, but you as a driver have more responsibility now about how you are going to drive out there because the cars are going to move around a little bit more. They are going to get turned around a lot easier, so you can't be running into one another. You can't be turning across guys; you have to utilize that handling to your advantage after a longer run. I like that part of it."

"Yes and no, I thought at the start of the race everybody was doing a pretty good job of watching. Even when we were three-wide it wasn't too bad. Then I started seeing some guys start to lose the handling on their car and start to get a little out of control. I started paying a little bit more attention and was looking for cars to slide around. They were, but no incidences until then."

"Well, if it warms up during the daytime handling is going to be a big, big issue. That is going to be important and so we will look at the weather. We weren't there long, but we learned a little bit and now we will watch what these guys are doing and try to learn some more for the duels."

"It wasn't for me at the beginning. At the beginning the inside lane was no good at all. Usually it's not the lane it's just how it's formed. If you get guys stacked up that lane will start moving, the outside seemed to move early, but then it looked like the outside also started having some handling issues as we started to get more heat in the tires."

"I haven't seen it, but from what I heard no. I think handling at the end of this race when people started getting more aggressive it will probably contribute to some. The handling is what can lose some speed. It shouldn't necessarily cause a wreck unless you are trying to be aggressive towards the end of a run and the handling is just not going to be as good."

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