March News

Salvage Yard
Auto Club 400 - Auto Club Speedway. Finish: 11th

Kyle Busch led the most laps in the Auto Club 400 but needed a dramatic final lap to score his first victory of the 2013 season. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano battled for the race lead entering turn 3. Logano eased up the track and into the side of Hamlin's car. That allowed Busch to use the high line to move past both. Contact from Hamlin sent Logano into the wall, while Hamlin spun and hit the retaining wall at the entrance to pit road. Busch powered on to the line for the last lap win.

Jeff Gordon's day was an up and down affair where he salvaged an 11th place finish. Gordon started 19th and moved up to 16th by the end of lap 5. However, he slipped to 17th on lap 7 when Kasey Kahne went by. Gordon worked his way up to 15th by the time the first caution waved on lap 28 for David Stremme's spin. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 18th place. He moved up to 14th before the next caution for Timmy Hill's oil line on lap 37. Gordon hit the wall coming off turn 2 and sustained damage after running through oil from Hill's car. Nevertheless, the #24 car stayed out and restarted 9th on lap 43. He fell to 14th by lap 45, and dropped back to 16th on lap 47. By lap 50, Gordon ran in 28th place while battling handling issues from the right side damage. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 67 and cycled through in 24th place. A debris caution on lap 91 brought Gordon to pit road for adjustments. He restarted in 26th place on lap 95.

At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 24th place. During a caution period with 82 laps to go, Gordon came in for tires and then to top off the fuel in the hopes of making it to the finish on one more stop. After the restart, Gordon moved up to 19th place and steadily gained spots. He advanced to 14th prior to a caution with 70 to go. With fuel strategy out of the equation, Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 15th. He climbed to 13th with 60 to go, but faded to 15th by lap 150. Gordon's final green flag pit stop came with 37 laps to go and cycled through in 16th place. A caution for Marcos Ambrose's cut tire with 30 laps to go brought Gordon to pit road for a 2-tire change. He restarted in 10th place with 26 laps to go. He quickly moved to 8th prior to a caution for Mark Martin's spin. On the restart, Gordon fell to 10th and ran 13th with 17 laps to go. A caution for Clint Bowyer's engine slowed the field with 15 to go. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 14th place.

On the restart, Gordon used the outside line and moved into the top-10. He gained four spots and ran 6th with 10 laps to go. However, he dropped to 10th with 7 to go, and fell out of the top-10 one lap later. Gordon finished 11th and moved up to 18th in the series standings.

Turning point
After a fade through the field in the first half of the race where he fell as low as 28th, Gordon rallied in the later stages. He ran 24th at halfway and used several caution periods to make chassis adjustments to improve the handling.

Blown Away
Food City 500 - Bristol Motor Speedway. Finish: 34th

After battling handling issues for the first half of the race, Jeff Gordon's team used pit strategy and adjustments to take the race lead after the halfway point. However, a blown tire on lap 389 sent Gordon up the track and into the wall. He pulled the #24 car behind the wall with major damage.

Gordon started 11th and dropped to 12th prior to the first caution on lap 9 for Tony Stewart's cut tire and subsequent spin. On the restart, Gordon moved into the top-10 and ran 9th on lap 20. He moved to 8th on lap 50, just before the day's second caution for Jeff Burton's wall contact. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 5th place after opting for 2 tires. He lost spots on the restart, but moved back to 6th following Jamie McMurray's spin on lap 70. He gained two spots and ran 4th after the restart. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon took 3rd from Kasey Kahne. However, Kahne re-took the spot 25 laps later. He moved back into 3rd with a pass on Kurt Busch on lap 147. He followed Kahne around Denny Hamlin on lap 149 to move into the runner-up spot prior to a caution on lap 152 for David Gilliland's wall contact. Gordon changed four tires and restarted in 5th place on lap 158.

Gordon lost a spot to Jimmie Johnson and ran 6th on lap 180. Tight handling hindered the #24 car as Matt Kenseth took a spot from Gordon shortly after the 200-lap mark. Landon Cassill's wall contact on lap 236 slowed the field and brought pit stops where the #24 crew removed a spring rubber to improve the car's handling. Gordon restarted 9th on lap 242 and dropped out of the top-10 on lap 260, but re-entered the top-10 a few laps later with a pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr. He took 9th from Clint Bowyer on lap 278, and passed Greg Biffle for 8th on lap 281. However, Biffle got around Gordon to re-take 8th place after the 300-lap mark. A caution for Dave Blaney's wall contact brought pit stops on lap 322. Gordon opted for 2 tires and exited pit road with the race lead. He held off Joey Logano before Denny Hamlin got into his former teammmate and spun him coming off turn 2.

Gordon entered turn 3 on lap 389 on the low side just before his tire blew out. He went up the track and collected Matt Kenseth after drilling the wall. It was Gordon's 1st DNF of the 2013 season.

Turning point
A blown tire on lap 389 sent Gordon up the track into the wall.

JG's comments
"We heard left side (tires) were helping the cars turn. We saw some other guys do that, and it definitely did that. The car was really good out front on the restarts. We got clear air and were setting sail. The right fronts never blow out when you're up against the wall. I dove down to the bottom to pass the 32 car. As soon as I got into the banking, I felt the right front go. I really hate that we collected Matt Kenseth in that. He had a great car. He was coming - it was just a matter of time before he got us. But, a great, great effort today up until then for this team. We needed points. This is definitely not going to get us many."

Flat Affect
Kobalt Tools 400 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Finish: 25th

Matt Kenseth held off Kasey Kahne to win his first race in his third start for Joe Gibbs Racing following an off-season move from Roush Racing. The 2003 NASCAR champion beat Kahne despite having older tires.

Jeff Gordon had a frustrating day where he battled handling issues en route to a sub-par 25th place effort. This is the third time in the last 4 years that Gordon has started a season with two finishes below 19th in the first 3 races.

Gordon started 10th and dropped a spot in the opening laps. As the run progressed, he moved to 9th by lap 10. However, he battled a loose handling car and dropped to 13th on lap 18. He fell to 15th by lap 40 while searching for grip on the track. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 46. Following adjustments he returned to the race in 16th place. As Gordon was in danger of going a lap down while running less than 2 seconds ahead of race leader Kasey Kahne in 17th place, NASCAR opted to throw a debris caution on lap 66. Pit stops ensued with Gordon restarting in 17th place on lap 71. The handling didn't improve and Gordon ran distantly behind the leader in 18th place by the 100-lap mark.

As Gordon was about to go a lap down, he came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 118. Gordon returned to the event one lap down. He slipped back to 20th by lap 135. A caution on lap 160 allowed Gordon to come to pit road for more adjustments. Gordon restarted in 16th place -- the first car one lap down. However, Tony Stewart went by to send Gordon back to 17th place with 85 laps to go. A caution for Bobby Labonte's spin with 73 to go allowed Gordon to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap. However, he dropped two laps down when he pitted under green with 48 laps to go. Gordon ran 23nd when the caution waved with 44 laps to go for Travis Kvapil's engine. Gordon stayed out for another wave around to get to one lap down. Gordon dropped to 26th after the restart. A caution for Ryan Newman's blown engine with 32 laps to go slowed the field. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 21st place. In the closing stages, Gordon fell to 23rd with 19 to go. Four laps later, he dropped to 25th where he finished the event.

Turning point
Gordon battled handling issues for the balance of the day. The only turning point was the lack of true turning ability on the #24 car.

Working Effort
Subway 500k - Phoenix International Raceway. Finish: 9th

Jeff Gordon battled track position for the balance of the Subway 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. He found himself outside the top-20 at one point, but rallied back for his 2nd top-10 finish in the last 3 races dating back to 2012.

Gordon started 5th and took 4th from Tony Stewart by lap 3. The first caution waved on lap 22 when Scott Riggs hit the wall. Gordon opted to stay out and hold onto 4th place. Kevin Harvick went by on lap 31 to drop Gordon to 5th place. The second caution came on lap 47 for Kyle Busch's spin in turn two. Pit stops followed with Gordon changing two tires. He restarted in 11th place after 7 cars stayed out. He moved to 9th on lap 64 when polesitter Mark Martin pitted. A caution on lap 66 for Dave Blaney's spin slowed the field. Gordon worked his way to 8th on lap 80 with a pass on Matt Kenseth. The next caution came just before the 100-lap mark when Ryan Newman cut a tire and hit the wall. Gordon's crew changed four tires during pit stops and he restarted in 19th place.

On the restart, Gordon dropped to 21st place. Newman's second contact with the wall in the event slowed the field on lap 142. Gordon came to pit road and restarted 19th. He worked his way up to 16th by lap 175, but ran more than 12 seconds behind race leader Carl Edwards. The sixth caution waved on lap 185 after Danica Patrick cut a tire and slammed the wall. Following pit stops, Gordon restarted 11th on lap 196 and moved into the top-10 on lap 200. A caution for David Gilliland's cut tire brought the field to pit road with 74 laps to go. Gordon changed 2 tires and restarted in 9th place.

Gordon dropped to 10th with 68 to go and lost another spot to Joey Logano one lap later. Gordon re-assumed the 10th spot with 48 to go. He took 9th from Kevin Harvick with 30 laps to go. However, he dropped to 10th with 6 laps to go when Jeff Burton went by. Ken Schrader's wall contact with 3 laps to go brought out the caution and a green/white/checkered finish. On the final restart, Gordon took 9th from Burton where he came across the finish line.

Turning point
The Pepsi Max Chevrolet tended to work better on longer runs. As Gordon was making headway into the top-10, a caution with 74 laps to go brought the field to pit road. Gordon lost spots on the restart, which hindered his forward march in the closing stages.

JG's Post-Race Comments

"It was a solid top-10. We had a better car than that. We just made some choices that lost us track position. Sometimes the cautions fall your way and sometimes they don't. Today most of them didn't, but we had a couple there at the end that did. That got us a little bit of that track position back. We were able to come home ninth, so all-in-all that was pretty solid."

HOW WAS THE NEW CAR ON THIS TRACK? "It drove good. It was definitely challenging this is probably not the best track to judge by. This track is tough, flat and doesn't lend itself to the best racing that we have on the series. Yet, I thought on the long run when the tires gave up a little bit you could start searching around, making some moves. Track position was key. We knew that coming in."

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