February News

Starting Strong
Daytona 500 - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 4th

Dale Earnhardt Jr captured his second Daytona 500 victory and snapped a 55-race winless streak on a long day at Daytona International Speedway. The season-opening race was delayed more than 6 hours by rain, with the finish coming just before midnight eastern time. Jeff Gordon helped propel Earnhardt Jr to a commanding lead on the final restart and finished in 4th place -- his best Daytona 500 finish since winning in 2005.

Gordon started 6th and got a push from Kurt Busch to move to 2nd on lap 2. One lap later he went to the inside line and slipped back to 9th place as the field ran in single file. The first caution waved on lap 23 for Kyle Larson's spin in turn 2. Gordon's crew changed two tires and he restarted in 6th on lap 28. He stayed in the high line and moved up to 3rd behind Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin. However, the inside line began moving and dropped Gordon back to 7th. The next caution waved on lap 33 for Martin Truex's engine. Rain began falling during the caution period which resulted in a red flag condition for more than 6 hours.

The race resumed under a dark sky just before 9pm. Gordon held the inside line and moved to 5th by lap 55, but eventually was caught in the middle line and faded back to 12th on lap 61. He hooked up in a draft with Kasey Kahne and moved back up to 7th on lap 70. One lap later he came to pit road for a 4-tire change. Gordon ran 17th at the halfway point of the event. He came to pit road on lap 119 for two tires. Following the stops, Gordon ran in 13th place. On lap 144, Gordon barely avoided a wreck when Aric Almirola spun across the track coming off turn 4. Gordon was just ahead of Almirola's spinning car. On the restart, Gordon moved up to 11th in a draft behind Joey Logano. With 40 laps to go, Gordon moved to 7th on the inside line behind Matt Kenseth. A multi-car wreck with 38 laps to go was trigged when Austin Dillon hit Kyle Larson in turn 4. Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne were collected in the melee.

Gordon restarted in 6th with 32 laps to go. He worked into the draft behind Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr to run 5th with 29 to go. He moved to the middle and ran behind Greg Biffle in 7th place with 22 to go. He followed Biffle to the low line and ran 6th with 20 to go. One lap later, Denny Hamlin dove low and put Gordon in the middle, which pulled him back to 7th place on the high line. A caution for Trevor Bayne's crash on the backstretch slowed the field with 16 laps to go. With 12 to go, Gordon ducked to the bottom line to move into a line behind Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. With 9 to go, Gordon was pushed to 2nd by Brad Keselowski. With 7 to go, Gordon moved to the high line and dropped to 3rd behind Keselowski. A wreck with 6 laps to go was started when Dillon hit Ryan Newman in turn 3, which collected four drivers.

Gordon restarted 3rd behind Earnhardt Jr with 2 laps to go. He gave him teammate a needed push on the restart before settling in behind him. He finished in 4th place -- his best Daytona 500 finish since winning in 2005.

Turning point
Gordon ran in 7th place with less than 20 laps to go, but worked his way forward into a drafting line with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in the closing stages.

JG's comments
"I'm so excited for Hendrick Motorsports right now. Congratulations to Dale, that's so cool. I know how excited his fans are. Rick Hendrick, another Daytona 500 victory. Three Hendrick cars in the top-5 was spectacular. I don't know what happened when the rain went away and the track dried. Everybody's brain just flipped over to, 'this is a shootout.' It was unbelievable the kind of racing with two- and three-wide, bump drafting. Just craziness. For awhile we didn't have great track position, I was just hanging on trying not to wreck and seeing other guys do the same thing. We got through some wrecks and then we really started having things go our way with some good pushes and picking the good lines."

"I gave Dale Jr a great push when we took the green so we got a good start. The 99 (Carl Edwards) got to my bumper and we started going. Then he got kind of sucked off of me so I was just a sitting duck along for the ride from that point. I saw Jimmie Johnson going three-wide behind me. My lane started going backwards. But when he got to me, he gave me a huge shove. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) pulled down in front of me and our lane just went. At that point, I was like, 'maybe we can get to Junior.' But at the same time I thought anything in the top-3 without a wrecked car would be a great finish. We wanted to win bad and we had a car that could, but we're also excited to see Junior win it."

Under The Radar
Duel at Daytona - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 2nd

Jeff Gordon will start 6th in Sunday's Daytona 500 after finishing 2nd in the Duel at Daytona. It is Gordon's 4th top-10 start in the last 5 races dating back to last season.

Gordon started 4th and remained in the outside line behind Martin Truex until lap 4. Gordon moved up to 3rd in single file behind Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards on lap 6. He remained in 3rd until the pit stop on lap 36. Gordon opted for fuel only and battled door-to-door with Carl Edwards getting back onto the track. He cycled through in 3rd place behind Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. Coming to the checkered flag, Gordon pulled out of line and moved around Busch to finish in the runner-up spot. He'll start 6th in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Turning point
Single file racing was the order of the event. Gordon held his line behind Kurt Busch until the final 500 yards.

JG's comments
"We just snuck in there under the radar, quiet 2nd place finish with a very, very fast race car that's certainly capable of winning (the Daytona 500). I like it that way."

Full Moon Saturday Night
Sprint Unlimited - Daytona International Speedway. Finish: 12th

Jeff Gordon started the 2014 season with a dose of bad luck in the Sprint Unlimited. A grinding crash destroyed the #24 car after 35 laps.

Gordon started 13th after the lineup was determined by final practice speeds. He fell to 16th at the outset, but moved up to 11th by lap 10. However, he lost spots in the draft and ran 14th on lap 20. Gordon moved to the inside line and moved up to 7th on lap 26. He slipped out of line on lap 29 and concluded the first 30-lap segment in 10th place.

Crew chief Alan Gustafson called for gas only during the pit stop and Gordon restarted the second 25-lap segment with the lead. However, he was hindered by the inside line and dropped to 10th within five laps. On lap 35, Gordon was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when Joey Logano turned Matt Kenseth. Gordon made contact with Tony Stewart's car and hit the wall just before getting hit from behind by Kurt Busch. All drivers exited their cars under their own power. Gordon went to check on Stewart, who was returning after breaking his leg seven months ago.

Turning point
Matt Kenseth misjudged Joey Logano's closing rate.

JG's comments
"The race started off really calm, I was quite surprised. Then all of a sudden business started picking up. I couldn't see anything. I was behind Tony. I knew they just started stacking up. The closing rate with the extra added spoiler is pretty severe, so maybe Matt just misjudged how quick Logano was coming up on him. He just kind of changed lanes too quick there. Glad everybody's alright."

The 'R' Word
February 13 - - During the annual media day at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Gordon hinted at retirement at the end of the 2014 season if he wins the Sprint Cup championship. "I look in my trophy room and I see four trophies that are championship trophies, but they say 'Winston Cup,' Gordon said. "You can name me a 4-time Sprint Cup (champion) for technical reasons all you want, but to me, I'm not. I want that before my career is over. If that happened, that would be all the reason I need to say, 'This is it, I'm done.' Go out on a high note."

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