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March News


Major Downer
AUTO CLUB 400. California Speedway: Finish: 18th

Rewind: Starting deep in the field, Jeff Gordon powered up to 15th in the first 150 miles. Gordon noted improvements in the car after each pit stop. However, he was unable to make headway beyond 12th place and dropped to 17th by the halfway point. With 50 to go, Gordon fell to 20th and was struggling to stay on the lead lap. Crew chief Alan Gustafson had led Mark Martin to three straight top-6 finishes at the track, and Gordon was strong in both races in 2010. The duo seemed to hit on a setup that worked during practice on Saturday while posting the 5th fastest speed, but faltered during the main event on Sunday. Gordon struggled with track grip nearly all day and finished 18th. At the front of the field, Kevin Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson coming off turn four on the final lap to take the victory.

Road ahead: The ugly stats are that Gordon has just one top-10 finish in his last 8 races, and just two top-5 finishes in the last 22 events. However, Martinsville comes at the right time for Gordon. After a victory at Phoenix, Gordon has struggled over the last 3 races. Gordon posted 15 consecutive top-10 finishes at Martinsville before Kurt Busch's front bumper snapped that streak last fall.


Concrete Jungle
JEFF BYRD 500. Bristol Motor Speedway: Finish: 14th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon started off loose, but the car eventually tightened up as the opening run progressed. He ran 11th when the competition caution waved on lap 50. He ran 13th-15th over the next 100 laps battling a tight handling car in the center of the corners before a caution for Robby Gordon's wall contact. At the halfway point, Gordon was running in 11th place -- but the handling seemed to be improving as he turned the fastest laps just before a caution for Bobby Labonte's spin. However, chassis adjustments proved to be his underdoing as he dropped to 15th and was in danger of going a lap down. A debris caution on lap 344 allowed Gordon to come to pit road for adjustments. He failed to make in-roads toward the top-10 over the last 150 laps and finished 14th. He remained 19th in the series standings, but would qualify for the Chase (if that became an issue in March!) due to his win at Phoenix.

Road ahead: The series heads to the 2-mile speedway in Fontana, California, for Sunday's race. Crew chief Alan Gustafson led Mark Martin to three straight top-6 finishes there. Jeff Gordon had solid efforts there in 2010, but an engine issue and a pit road penalty hindered his finishing position.

JG's comments

TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY:
"It was more down than up, I think. We had one run where the car was just unbelievable on the long run and we had a long run and I don't know how far we drove up there but I drove by a bunch of cars and I was pretty optimistic at that point. And I was still a little bit tight, which is what we'd been fighting in the center of the corner; and we freed it up and was so loose I couldn't drive it after that. And we just went back and forth and back and forth. We salvaged a 14th place finish out of it, which you can't complain too much about that. It was definitely not our day so we were frustrated at times and fighting hard but I felt like we worked well together as a team to get through kind of a rough day and come out here with a decent finish."

HOW DID THE TIRE TREAT YOU?
"Well, it doesn't have a lot of grip but we didnít have any tire problems, or the #24 team didnít have any tire problems. I don't know if anybody else did. I know Goodyear's intentions were good to try to get the drivers' more grip, which is what we like to have. That's what that first tire had. But we've got to have one that puts rubber down on the track too. This seemed like a good fix."

YOU'RE NOT VERY HAPPY WITH BRAD KESELOWSKI. WHAT HAPPENED?
"The guy was three laps down. I understand. He's trying to keep from going a lap down and hey, you've got to give him credit. They fought back and got back on the lead lap and got a decent finish out of it. I'll just tell Brad that the next time I'm three laps down, and he's on the lead lap, just expect the same out of me, you know? I don't expect him to just let off. He had a fast race car. But when you're three laps down and then you door-slam the guy trying to pass; that's what ticked me off is when he got loose underneath me and got up into me, I got pretty mad then."


Granting The Wish
March 18 - - Johnathon Ousley and his family will travel to Bristol for an unforgettable weekend of activity in association with the NASCAR race. His wish begins Friday with a private meet-and-greet with Jeff Gordon at the track. They will also participate in media activities and a Q&A session with fans that night. On Sunday, Ousley will rejoin Gordon at the track for the pre-race driver introductions and ceremonial lap around the track. The family will then watch Gordon race for the checkered flag from a private suite. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, has organized Johnathon's wish to help the Ousleys spend some time together as he copes with brain cancer. Gordon granted his first wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1995. Since then, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has granted more than 230 wishes, making him among the most-requested celebrity wish granters in the Foundation's 30-year history.


Granting The Wish
March 18 - - Johnathon Ousley and his family will travel to Bristol for an unforgettable weekend of activity in association with the NASCAR race. His wish begins Friday with a private meet-and-greet with Jeff Gordon at the track. They will also participate in media activities and a Q&A session with fans that night. On Sunday, Ousley will rejoin Gordon at the track for the pre-race driver introductions and ceremonial lap around the track. The family will then watch Gordon race for the checkered flag from a private suite. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, has organized Johnathonís wish to help the Ousleys spend some time together as he copes with brain cancer. Gordon granted his first wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1995. Since then, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has granted more than 230 wishes, making him among the most-requested celebrity wish granters in the Foundation's 30-year history.


Leaping Over Hurdles
March 16 - - Jeff Gordon is part of the design team for the Canadian Motor Speedway project. The next hurdle for the proposed track comes on April 8 at Fort Erie Town Hall in Ontario. The Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearing will review evidence to support CMS approvals as well as hear from those individuals who have appealed the Regional Official Plan Amendment which allows the project to move forward.


Cuts Like A Knife
KOBALT TOOLS 400. Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Finish: 36th

Rewind: A cut tire on lap 194 sent Jeff Gordon into the wall in turn two while he was running 10th. Gordon brought the damaged DuPont Chevrolet onto pit road and climbed out. Gordon started 13th and stayed out during the first caution period to lead a lap. He dropped to the lower half of the top-10 after the restart battling a tight handling car. A long green flag run dropped him to 10th before a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 51. A caution for Kyle Busch's cut tire brought the field to pit road on lap 97. Gordon exited pit road in 6th place and held the spot through two quick caution periods. In the mid-stages of the event, Gordon ran 8th-10th before a pit stop on lap 150 dropped him to 11th. The cut tire came without warning and put an early end to his day.

Road ahead: Through practice and the race, the #24 team battled handling issues. The car was far from dominant when compared to 2010. A week off awaits before the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first short track race of the year. Gordon will drive the Pepsi Max car at Bristol -- the first time he's driven a Pepsi car at a track less than 1.5-miles long.

JG's comments: "There was no sign (of the cut tire). We needed to free it up. Nothing we were doing seemed to be helping. The day started off pretty good, we were up toward the front. We started losing the handling on the last couple of runs. I'm glad I had a safer barrier to hit and a safe race car."


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