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March 2010 News

Bitter End
March 29 - - If nothing else, Jeff Gordon is Mr. Consistency at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon posted a 3rd place finish in the rain-delayed Goody's 500 for his 11th straight top-five and 15th straight top-ten finish at the 1/2-mile track. However, the ending of the Goody's 500 was a disappointment as Gordon lost the race lead on a final green/white/checkered restart after Matt Kenseth drilled him from behind. Gordon regouped and knocked Kenseth up the track in turn three, but not before Denny Hamlin took the race lead and the victory. "I didn't get a great restart," Gordon said. "I saw (Kenseth) behind me. He drove in the back of me so hard. I made sure he wasn't going to win the race after that."

Gordon started 11th and gained five spots in the opening 10 laps. He passed Jimmie Johnson and lap 25 to move into 6th, and entered the top-5 on lap 30. He gained a spot during a pit stop sequence on lap 40, and quickly moved into the runner-up spot on lap 49. Gordon tracked down and passed Jeff Burton for the race lead on lap 59. He held the lead until Kurt Busch took the top spot on lap 140. He dropped two spots on a pit stop sequence on lap 164 and slipped further back by lap 190 while battling handling issues in the corner. However, the car eventually came to him and he moved back into the top-10 on lap 193. Gordon's forward charge continued as he took 7th from Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 204. At the halfway point Gordon was running in 6th. He remained there until lap 303 when Joey Logano took the position. His forward charge commenced on lap 314 after a pit stop. He passed Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson to re-enter the top-five, and then took 4th from Kyle Busch on lap 328.

Gordon struggled on restarts for most of the race and following a caution flag on lap 364, he dropped to 7th. He regouped to take 6th on lap 390 before another caution on lap 421. Pit stops followed and Gordon exited in 9th place. With 70 laps to go, he moved into 7th place, and then took 6th from Martin Truex Jr. He passed Matt Kenseth for 5th with 50 to go, and passed Clint Bowyer for 4th with 18 to go. With 9 laps to go, Jeff Burton cut a tire and hit the wall, which allowed Gordon to move up to 3rd place. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch both elected to come to pit road under caution, which gave Gordon the race lead. On the restart, he pulled away from Ryan Newman and looked to be on the way to his 83rd career victory. However, Kyle Busch's spin in turn four with 2 laps to go brought the caution flag. Gordon was angered by the timing of the flag as he was less than 90 feet from taking the white flag -- which would have automatically frozen the field and ended the event.

On the green/white/checkered restart, Kenseth slammed the rear of Gordon's car and knocked him up the track in turn 1. He raced side-by-side with Kenseth on the backstretch and clipped the rear of Kenseth's Ford to send him up the track and make sure the Wisconsinite did not visit victory lane. Hamlin dove low to take the race lead and the victory with his teammate Joey Logano in tow. Gordon regrouped to hold off Ryan Newman to finish 3rd. The finish allowed Gordon to move up to 7th in the series points standings.

Post-race comments

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A WINNING CAR ALL WEEKEND?
"Yes, we had an awesome car all weekend. I was very happy with it. When they dropped the green, there was no surprise to me how good we were. But, the track conditions changed on us and we lost some track position. When we lost that track position, we played catch up the rest of the day."

WAS IT EVEN POSSIBLE BEFORE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS TO WIN FROM FOURTH IN THE LAST 2 LAPS AT MARTINSVILLE?
"I donít what happened. I donít know if he (Denny Hamlin, race winner) had to knock guys out of the way to do it or if it was just his four (fresh) tires. We had been out there and had pretty old tires. The double-file restarts, under the old rules, there was no way because you would be starting eighth, not fourth. Definitely the double-file restarts make a big difference. The gamble worked out but, had that last caution not come, then it wouldnít have. That is the way these races are going. Just never know how cautions there are going to be. We absolutely made the right call because we werenít going to win the race if we came down pit road."

WALK US THROUGH THOSE FINAL LAPS ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH:
"The real unfortunate part was that yellow came out with about 100 feet to go to get the white. We had the thing wrapped up. We had a tough day. We were so awesome at the beginning. That outside lane was just so terrible on the restarts. I'd lose five or six spots. You know I really give this team a lot of credit for sticking with it and fighting back and having great pit stops. On that last one, I didn't get a great start, but it was a pretty decent start. I saw the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) was way behind me. I drove into (Turn) 1, trying to not overcook it and he drove into the back of me hard that I don't know what happened; if the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) got in the back of him or if he just drove into the back of me, but I made sure he wasn't going to win the race after that."

WILD FINISH THERE. WHAT DID YOU SEE FROM THE SEAT?
"Everything was in my mirror until we got off of turn four to take the white. It was unfortunate because we had a good car and we lost some track position in the outside lane on some of those restarts and that was unfortunate for us but Steve Letarte made a great call for us by staying out there and we were just a hundred feet away from getting that white flag and we would be sitting in Victory Lane right now but I am glad we are fighting as hard as we are and ended up third. After I got nailed going into one on that last restart I didnít think we were going to make it back around. I hope the fans enjoyed that show and we appreciate them coming here on a Monday and we wanted to make sure they got a good show... especially sticking around like that. "


Struggling Through Thunder Valley
March 22 - - Jeff Gordon's day at Bristol Motor Speedway was an up and down affair characterized by handling issues in the mid-stages and a wreck with 150 laps to go. Gordon's unsatisfying 14th place finish leaves him 11th in points for the second straight week. Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Tony Stewart with 7 laps to go and won his 50th career race.

Gordon qualified 5th, but started 3rd after Dave Blaney dropped to the rear of the field. He settled into 4th after Jimmie Johnson used the high line to take the spot and eventually the race lead. Gordon used the upper groove to take 3rd from polesitter Joey Logano on lap 8. The first caution waved on lap 41 after Blaney stopped on the track. The field came to pit road with Gordon exiting in 4th place. He restarted in 6th after David Stremme and Brad Keselowski stayed out. Gordon made quick work of Stremme on the outside line and got around Kurt Busch. He took 2nd place from Keselowski on lap 49 and closed in on Johnson for the race lead. The next caution waved for Clint Bowyer's engine problem on lap 57. Gordon held off Kurt Busch on the restart, but eventually ceded the runner-up spot on lap 81. He fell to 6th by lap 115 while battling a tight handling condition. A caution for Denny Hamlin's wall contact on lap 117 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon departed in 5th place after gaining a spot.

Light rain enveloped the track on lap 125, which brought another caution period. After nearly 20 minutes circling at reduced speed, the green flag waved. Gordon dropped to 6th after Mark Martin passed on lap 150. Keselowski went around Gordon on lap 164, and Jamie McMurray passed four laps later. Gordon slipped to 10th on lap 170 after Martin Truex and Marcos Ambrose went by. He fell out of the top-10 on lap 175 when Paul Menard moved around the DuPont Chevrolet. The slide through the field continued as Gordon ran 17th on lap 195. Gordon was back in 21st position when Kasey Kahne brought out a much needed caution on lap 205. On the restart, Gordon moved from 21st to 17th by lap 220, and advanced to 14th on lap 230. At the halfway point, Gordon had moved up to 12th as the tight handling condition he experienced earlier seems much improved. Following a caution flag sequence for Kyle Busch's cut tire, Gordon gained two positions on pit road. With 200 laps to go, Gordon was running 9th behind Tony Stewart. A caution for Regan Smith's wall contact resulted in a caution flag. Gordon left pit road in 10th place on lap 324.

On lap 341, Mark Martin slammed the wall off turn two after contact with Greg Biffle. Martin then brought his car back into race traffic and made contact with the front of Gordon's car, who was slammed in the rear by Marcos Ambrose. Gordon elected to stay on the track running 11th due to rain in the area. When the skies lightened, Gordon came to pit road for tires with 143 laps to go. He restarted in 24th place before a caution flag for rain. While the lead lap cars pitted, Gordon stayed on the track and moved to 2nd place. The green flag waved with 90 to go and Gordon was unable to hold the inside line. He dropped to 4th within a lap of the restart as Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson went by. Less than 25 laps later, he slipped back to 10th place. Gordon dropped out of the top-10 when Kyle Busch passed with to go. He was running 14th when the caution waved for debris with 17 laps to go. He exited pit road in 16th for the final run to the finish. Gordon moved up 2 spots to finish 14th. At the front of the field, Johnson restarted 6th and moved to the lead around Tony Stewart with 7 laps to go. Johnson pulled away to win his 50th career race and first ever at Bristol.

Post-race comments

ON JIMMIE JOHNSON WINNING THE RACE
"Obviously they are an awesome combination and Jimmie is a great driver and they're just wracking them up right now. And it's impressive. It motivates everybody else to get their act together. So, you can give them credit for a lot of things. They always know how to be in the right position at the right time to take advantage when they're not having the best day. Just like today. They were good, but I don't think they were the best car. They took four (tires) and I don't know what happened but I'm guessing that Jimmie drove the wheels off of it and that he got up there and took the lead and won it."

ON THE LAST RACE WITH THE WING:
"I'm anxious to see what the spoiler is going to be like. I'm really looking forward to it and I don't know how much change there is going to be but I certainly look forward to trying it."

YOU WERE RUNNING CLOSE TO THE FRONT AND THEN GOT CAUGHT IN THAT MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT. WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
"It looked like the NO. 16 (Biffle) kinda ran Mark (Martin) up and he got in the wall and damaged the right ride. We were just coming. I was bottled up with a bunch of cars and I wanted to go to the inside of them but wasn't sure it that was going to be a good decision or not. And I went to the outside of him and he came up and we all got collected."

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN JIMMIE JOHNSON IN ACCOMPLISHING HIS WIN AT BRISTOL?
"When you're that good of a team and have the resources and communication and confidence that Chad (Knaus) and Jimmie and that whole team have in one another, anything is possible. Those guys have proven that week in and week out, no matter where they go. And right now they're on a great roll. They're really strong. You've got to give them a lot of credit for that."


Back To School
March 19 - - Jeff Gordon visited Patrick Henry Elementary School in Martinsville, Va., on Thursday. He toured several classrooms, met 3rd and 4th grade students, and found out how the school has infused technology into the curriculum. VIDEO


Tires Doom Gordon's Day In Atlanta
March 8 - - Kurt Busch captured the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second straight year. Busch made a daring move on the penultimate restart to take the lead. The race was not without controversy as Carl Edwards was parked by NASCAR after retaliating against Brad Keselowski for a bump early in the event. Keselowski's car flipped over on the frontstretch and pancaked the outside wall with the roof.

Jeff Gordon's day was an exercise in frustration. Gordon started 5th and dropped a position at the outset to Kasey Kahne. Robby Gordon crashed to bring out the first caution on lap 4. He took a position from Mark Martin, and then took 4th from Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 15. The second caution came on lap 35 for David Ragan's cut tire and subsequent contact with the wall. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon exiting in 5th place. On the restart, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano hit the turn two wall after Brad Keselowski clipped Edwards at the bottom of the track. Gordon moved up to 3rd on lap 65, before Kurt Busch took the spot on lap 67. A debris caution on lap 77 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon departed pit road in 3rd place after a sub-15 second stop. On the restart, Gordon slipped back to 5th before rallying to take 4th on lap 89. He ran in 3rd on lap 100, but dropped the spot to Kahne on lap 109. Mark Martin's spin on lap 115 brought the caution and the leaders to pit road. Gordon restarted in 8th and moved to 5th by lap 125. However, he dropped to 7th as Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson passed in the next four laps. By lap 142, he was down to the 12th spot after struggling with loose handling.

Gordon pitted for tires and losing more positions. He received a penalty for speeding on pit road, thus necessitating a pass-thru. Joey Logano's cut tire on lap 160 brought out the caution and trapped Gordon two laps down. He made up a lap by not pitting under the caution flag. Gordon worked his way to 29th -- the first car one lap down by lap 185. Trouble struck Gordon on lap 203 when he slowed dramatically in turn one and came to pit road for a tire issue. He ran the balance of the event a lap down before a wreck on the first green/white/checkered lap allowed him to get back on the lead lap. Gordon lined up 19th for the second attempt at a green/white/checkered finish. He gained one spot and finished the event in 18th. Gordon moved into a tie for 11th in the series points standings.

The NASCAR series takes a week off before returning to the track at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 21. Although Gordon has started the season with three finishes of 18th or worse in the first 4 races, they've run much better than the results indicate. When you knock on the door long enough, eventually it opens... eventually.

Jeff Gordon Day
March 2 - - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared March 1 as 'Jeff Gordon Day' in the state. Gordon visited the Governor for a ceremony in the quad in front of the Old Capitol building as part of a promotion for the April race at Phoenix International Raceway. Arizona is not the first state to have a 'Jeff Gordon Day.' In June 2004, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm honored the four-time NASCAR champion with a similar proclamation.
Photos: Jeff Gordon Day gallery- March 1


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