Lost Weekend In Atlanta
HAMPTON, GA. (March 20)- - Jeff Gordon drove about a mile in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway before he was swept up in an opening lap wreck. Casey Mears swung around in traffic coming off turn two and collected Bobby Labonte. Gordon, from his 25th starting position, went low on the track but couldn't avoid the spinning car of Matt Kenseth. More than eight cars sustained damage in the melee. Gordon slid to the inside of the track and made contact with the retaining wall. He brought the DuPont Chevrolet to the garage area for extensive repairs. "I thought I was going to get through, but they all turned down in front of me," Gordon said after the wreck. "Unfortunately it's a short day for us. It's mainly body damange." Gordon returned to the race on lap 74 to simply make some laps in the hopes of picking up an extra position. He moved up to 39th position before pulling behind the wall for good with 30 laps to go. It was Gordon's second finish of 30th or worse in four races this season, and second DNF. The lap 1 wreck was Gordon's earliest trip to the garage area in a Cup race since he was involved in a lap 2 crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 1998. With a week off for the Easter holiday next weekend, Gordon will look to rebound at Bristol Motor Speeday on April 3. At the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson seemed in control of the late stages of the race before Carl Edwards closed the gap with 2 laps remaining and passed Johnson for the win coming to the checkered flag.
Redemption In Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV. (March 14)- - After a catastrophic day in which four of the five Hendrick Motorsports engines failed in California, Jeff Andrews and the engine department went to work in the raceshop. In a comeback that would have definitely made the late Randy Dorton proud, the Hendrick cars rebounded at Las Vegas with three cars in the top four positions. Jimmie Johnson held off Kyle Busch to win his first race of the season and 15th of his career. Jeff Gordon came home in the fourth position after an up and down day due to mid-race contact. Though his day might have been even better without a late race incident with Newman. Overall it was nothing to complain about as Gordon moved up to fourth in the series points standings. Gordon started 11th and battled a loose handling car in the early stages. He was running 11th on lap 66 when he slowed to avoid Elliott Sadler's spinning car. Jeff Burton made contact with the left rear of Gordon's car forcing him to pit road for repairs. Gordon restarted 29th and quickly moved into the top-20 by lap 80. He entered the top-ten on lap 120 and climbed as high as fourth by lap 160. He dropped to 12th after a lugnut problem on a lap 174 pit stop. Unfazed, Gordon charged up to seventh with 75 laps to go. He steadily made his way toward the top spot and passed Newman for second place with 35 laps to go. However, one lap later Newman got into the back of Gordon in turn one. The contact forced him to get out of the throttle to save the car and he fell to sixth. "You have to ask Ryan about that one," Gordon said. "He went in there and forgot where the brakes were." Gordon re-passed Newman five laps later and got around Greg Biffle for fourth with 22 laps to go. However, that's as far as he got as Johnson took the checkered flag for the second HMS victory in three races this season. "That's the kind of top-five that makes you champions," Gordon said. "With that kind of effort we're going to get some wins and a lot of top fives. I was just passing Ryan, and finally got by him and he just got into me. It cost us a shot at seeing what we had for Jimmie."
Gordon Declined Mexico City
LAS VEGAS, NV. (March 13)- - According to CupScene, DuPont officials expressed interest in sponsoring Jeff Gordon for the recent Mexico City Busch series race, which was held March 6. However, NASCAR's winningest road course driver declined the offer in the interest of preserving an off-weekend. Gordon last raced in the Busch series in 2000 while driving a limited six-race schedule. Gordon's crew chief, Robbie Loomis, took his weekend off at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "I was glad to have an off weekend and download," Loomis said. "Will we be in Mexico City next year? There's that remote chance, and it's a road course, so I'd really love to do that. Now if NASCAR wants to drop a couple of races and add Mexico City, Jeff would do it. But just to add another race, he might be tossing and turning on that. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does." While Loomis discussed prospects south of the border, his driver focused his attention on northern expansion. "I’d love to see us in Canada," Gordon said. "I think that staying in North America is extremely important. Canada to me seems like the next natural place for us to go. Obviously, Mexico went well for the Busch cars—that might be a good option as well. But I want to see us on an oval. I don’t want to see us on a road course in Canada. I think we can put on such a better show for the fans, and I know there are a lot of fans in Canada who follow NASCAR. I wish we had an oval track up there. If we’re going to go there, we need to start that process."
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