March News

Day In The Pits
Auto Club 400 - Auto Club Speedway. Finish: 26th

Jeff Gordon started 21st and moved into the top-15 by lap 10. He entered the top-10 on lap 22 and took 9th from Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 24. After passing Carl Edwards for position on lap 26, Gordon closed in on Ryan Newman for 7th place. He passed Newman and then came to pit road during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 35. At the 45-lap mark, Gordon ran in 6th place and closed in on Greg Biffle to enter the top-5. Gordon took 5th from Biffle on lap 50. Ten laps later he moved to 4th with a pass on Jimmie Johnson. Gordon stayed out to lead during a green flag pit sequence on lap 70. He slipped to 5th on lap 75 and remained there at the halfpoint point on lap 100.

Gordon took the race lead for a lap during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 107. However, a costly mistake on pit road resulted in gasman Brad Pickens being dragged with the fuel can across the white line. Gordon was assessed a stop and go penalty on pit road, effectively taking him out of contention. He returned to the event in 19th place, one lap off the pace. He passed Marcos Ambrose to run 18th -- the first car one lap down. However, the leader Tony Stewart passed AJ Allmendinger just two laps before a caution for rain on lap 122, thus keeping Gordon a lap down. Gordon pitted for tires under the caution flag. However, a tire violation on pit road dropped him to 26th, the last car 1 lap down. After a red flag for rain, NASCAR called the race just before 2:30pm pacific time.

*Gordon has led a lap in each of the first 5 races of the season for the first time since 2001.
*Gordon is 25th in the series standings-- the lowest he's been in points after 5 races in his NASCAR career.

Turning point A costly penalty on pit road during a green flag stop on lap 108 dropped Gordon off the lead lap. A later penalty on pit road dropped him from 18th to 26th.

Damage Control
Food City 500 - Bristol Motor Speedway. Finish: 35th

What seemed like a certain top-5 finish for Jeff Gordon turned into his second finish of 35th or worse in the first 4 races after contact from Dale Earnhardt Jr. resulted in a wreck. Gordon started 4th and moved to the runner-up spot in the opening laps. However, handling issues dropped him to 4th before a caution for Kasey Kahne's wreck slowed the field. Kahne, who came to Hendrick Motorsports with high expectations surrounding his effort, has not finished higher than 19th thru four races. Gordon opted for a two-tire change and restarted outside the top-10 due to others staying on the track. Gordon ran in 6th place at the 100-lap mark. He moved up to 3rd by lap 115. A caution for Ken Schrader's wall contact on lap 116 slowed the field and resulted in pit stops. Following stops, Gordon held onto 3rd. He passed Brian Vickers for 2nd place and then closed in on Brad Keselowski for the race lead. However, he slipped to 3rd on lap 253 when Matt Kenseth went by. Gordon took the race lead on lap 258 during a green flag pit stop sequence.

Gordon battled tight handling and dropped to 4th on lap 275, and fell to 5th by lap 300. He came to pit road during a caution flag on lap 340 and restarted in 5th place. While battling Dale Earnhardt Jr for position on lap 360, Gordon sustained heavy damage after his teammate clipped his tire. Gordon went into turn 3 with a flat tire and spun backwards into the wall. He exited the #24 car with a damaged left rear bumper, spoiler and quarterpanel. He returned to the race more than 100 laps down and finished 35th.

*Gordon led a lap for the fifth consecutive race.
*He tied his worst career finish at Bristol (also 35th in Aug 1997).
*Gordon is now 23rd in the series points standings -- that's the lowest he's been after 4 races in his NASCAR career.

Turning point
Gordon battled a tight handling car in the second half of the event. He was running consistently in the top-5 when contact from Dale Earnhardt Jr ruined a promising finish.

JG: "I think we bumped more than we should have is the way it looks like. We definitely didn't hit in the right location, because I think the tailpipe or something just cut the left-rear (tire) immediately. We didn’t hit that hard. We were a little bit too tight and he was pretty good on the restart there and we were racing hard. I know that it was intentional, but it certainly ruined our day. I hate it for this race team. There were times we had the best car out there and I think we could have got back to that before this thing was over. There was contact. Just hard racing here at Bristol. We weren't very good there on the restart; we were a little bit too tight still. We were making adjustments there to fix that. We were really strong earlier in the race. I was looking forward to getting to the end. Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got underneath me. When he got into me, it looked like the tailpipe just caught the left rear (tire) and cut the left rear. I don't know what cut the left front (tire), but something cut the left front too and so around we went. I knew it immediately, and I let off trying to keep it out of the wall, but there was no chance. Ruined our day. Hate it for this team."

Salvage Yard
Kobalt Tools 400 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Finish: 12th

Jeff Gordon struggled with handling for the balance of the day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gordon started 16th and moved to 11th by lap 4 while battling a tight handling condition. He moved into the top-10 with a pass on Kasey Kahne on lap 23. He pitted under caution on lap 47 and ran 7th on lap 50. He slipped to 8th during the next run before a caution on lap 74. He took 4 tires and restarted in 19th place. However, he struggled on the restart and dropped to 24th by lap 90. After falling to 26th, Gordon came to pit road under green on lap 119 for tires and adjustments. Following the stops, Gordon ran in 21st when the caution waved on lap 128. Gordon stayed out to lead a lap during a green flag pit stop sequence, but dropped off the lead lap when he came to pit road on lap 181.

Gordon got back on the lead lap by taking the wave around during a caution period with 62 laps to go. A caution with 39 laps to go assured Gordon of a lead lap finish. He moved into the top-15 and finished 12th after drivers ahead of him experienced wall contact/spins in the final laps. Gordon moved up to 17th in the series standings.

*JG has led at least 1 lap in the last 6 races at Las Vegas.
*JG has led a lap in all 3 races in 2012.

Turning point
A caution flag with 62 laps to go allowed Gordon to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: "Well, we weren't very good. We struggled but we ended up with an okay finish. Sometimes you have to do that and we did it. You're never happy with 12th, but there’s a point in time during the day that I would have been happy to finish 20th. So it was okay."

Eight Is Enough
Subway 500 - Phoenix Raceway. Finish: 8th

It wasn't a victory, but a much-needed top-10 finish for Jeff Gordon on a track where he struggled four months ago. Gordon started 30th and advanced into the top-10 by staying on the track during an early caution period. His strategy worked out as a caution on lap 59 brought the field to pit road, thus allowing Gordon to keep the track position gained and restart in the top-15. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 11th place. A caution on lap 110 for Casey Mears' spin brought the field to pit road. Gordon lost a spot and restarted 12th on lap 117. Gordon stayed on the track following a caution for Paul Menard's crash on lap 132 and moved up to 10th. He worked traffic over the mid-stages of the race and ran 8th at the 180-lap mark. Gordon stayed on the track to lead a lap during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 189. Gordon complained of a loose condition with 100 laps to go. A caution flag with 84 laps to go brought the leaders to pit road.

After opting for four tires and topping off the fuel, Gordon restarted in 20th place with 79 laps to go, but experienced handling problems which hindered his progress. A caution on lap 247 brought most of the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon stayed on the track to gain positions knowing he could make it to the finish on fuel. He restarted in 10th place with 60 laps to go. He moved to 9th when Ryan Newman crashed with 56 laps to go, but dropped out of the top-10 with 40 to go. Gordon moved up to 10th with 20 laps to go when Jeff Burton slowed with engine problems. He moved to 9th with 16 to go when Marcos Ambrose's engine expired, and took 8th when Carl Edwards ran out of gas with 3 to go.

Gordon moved from 35th to 22nd in the series points standings, and posted his fourth top-10 finish in the last 6 races.

Turning point
After starting deep in the field, crew chief Alan Gustafson kept Gordon on the track during an early caution period to gain track position. Following that call, he was never lower than 15th place for the rest of the day.

JG's comments

“It was a solid day for us. I was very happy with some of the calls that we made to get track position. There at the end our car just wouldn’t take off, so we really struggled being real loose getting into the corner. Once it came to us we were pretty good. There was a middle part of the race where I thought we were one of the better cars. It just didn’t work out that way at the end. All in all top-10, a lot of guys had trouble we were solid. We needed a solid day like this after last week."

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