March News

Southern Virginia Salvage Yard
STP 500 - Martinsville Speedway. Finish: 12th

After a solid start in the STP 500 where he ran in the runner-up spot, Jeff Gordon battled through damage to the car and finished 12th. It was his 23rd consecutive top-20 finish at Martinsville, but it was only the third time in the last 23 races there where he failed to lead a lap.

Gordon started 5th and slipped to 6th before the first caution on lap 2 for Parker Kligerman's crash in turn 3. On the restart, Gordon moved around Denny Hamlin to take 4th place. He took 3rd from Kyle Busch on lap 20 and advanced to the runner-up spot on lap 23. Gordon dropped to 3rd just before the competition caution on lap 40. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 2nd on lap 44. He dropped to 5th on lap 55 when Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano went by. One lap later he ran 6th when Tony Stewart passed on the inside. Gordon battled a loose handling issue and fell to 7th on lap 60. As the run progressed, Gordon re-entered the top-5 on lap 70. He took 4th from Stewart on lap 74. The next caution waved on lap 103 for Ricky Stenhouse's wall contact. Gordon lost 3 spots on pit road and restarted in 7th on lap 108. He moved to 6th prior to the next caution on lap 113 for Michael Annett's spin. He came to pit road and restarted 26th on lap 119.

On the restart, Gordon got into the back of a slower car and damaged the nose of the Axalta Chevrolet. He battled handling issues as he worked race traffic and ran in 22nd place on lap 160. A caution for Casey Mears' spin on lap 170 allowed Gordon to come to pit road for adjustments and repairs to the front of the car. He restarted in 26th place on lap 177. Jamie McMurray's wreck on lap 200 brought out the caution and the lead lap cars came to pit road. Gordon restarted in 21st on lap 206. The seventh caution waved on lap 219 for Alex Bowman's spin. Following a pit stop, Gordon restarted 20th on lap 226. A debris caution on lap 231 brought some drivers to pit road. Gordon stayed out and restarted 18th on lap 238. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 19th place. After a caution and subsequent pit stops, Gordon restarted 18th. He gained two spots and ran 16th on lap 260, and took 15th from Tony Stewart on lap 266. Gordon steadily gained spots and ran 12th on lap 280. However, he faded to 18th by lap 300 as the handling went away.

A caution for Joe Nemechek's crash on lap 315 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon restarted 19th on lap 320 and gained two spots before the next caution on lap 342 for Kyle Larson's crash. After stops, he restarted 16th on lap 347. He struggled as the run progressed and dropped to 20th by lap 380. Gordon's handling woes continued and he fell to 23rd on lap 410. A caution for Martin Truex's spin brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted 21st with 84 laps to go. He advanced into the top-20 with 75 to go, and took 16th from Denny Hamlin with 65 to go. Gordon ran 15th when the caution waved with 40 to go for Carl Edwards' spin. He held 15th through the round of pit stops. On the restart, he gained two spots and ran 13th with 25 to go. After taking a spot from Edwards, he crossed the line in 12th place.

Gordon dropped to 4th in the series points standings.

Turning point
Gordon came to pit road during a caution period on lap 119 when few leaders followed suit. As a result, he re-started deep in the field and damaged the nose of the car in traffic. He never regained the handling or track position he had before the incident.

JG's comments
To come...

The Closer You Get
AUTO CLUB 400 - Auto Club Speedway. Finish: 13th

Jeff Gordon was less than 2 laps from victory in the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, Calif. He had the dominant car on longer runs and took the race lead after Jimmie Johnson experienced tire problems in the closing stages. However, Clint Bowyer's flat tire and subsequent spin brought out the caution flag. Gordon came to pit road for tires, but lost momentum on the restart to finish 13th.

Gordon started 6th and moved into the top-5 within 2 laps. He advanced to 3rd by lap 7 with passes on Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Gordon took the runner-up spot from Clint Bowyer on lap 14. The first caution waved on lap 18 for Harvick's flat tire. Gordon came to pit road for tires and incurred a pit road speeding penalty, which dropped him to the rear of the field for the restart on lap 23. He moved up to 34th within one lap of the restart and ran 25th on lap 30. Gordon's forward progress continued as he moved to 15th on lap 40 and ran 11th when the second caution waved on lap 42 for Dale Earnhardt Jr's flat tire. Pit stops ensued with Gordon restarting 12th on lap 48. He re-entered the top-10 on lap 52 with a move around Kurt Busch. Gordon moved to 7th on lap 55 by getting around Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Two laps later the caution waved for Tony Stewart's spin on the backstretch. Gordon stayed on the track after seeing the red light on pit road. As a result, he came to pit road on the following lap and restarted in 35th place. Once again, he moved through the field and ran 23rd on lap 66. Contact between Brian Scott and Aric Almirola brought out the caution on lap 70 with Gordon up to 19th place.

Following pit stops, Gordon restarted in 19th place on lap 75. He quickly moved up to 11th within two laps of the restart. Gordon re-entered the top 10 on lap 77 and took 8th from Kyle Larson on lap 78. He climbed to 6th with a pass on Greg Biffle on lap 80. After passing Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, Gordon was running 4th when the next caution waved on lap 86. He came to pit road for tires and exited in 3rd place. Gordon briefly dropped to 4th before regrouping and took 2nd from Kenseth on lap 97. He took the race lead from Jimmie Johnson on lap 106 and pulled out to a comfortable lead. The caution waved on lap 118 for Carl Edwards' spin after a flat tire. However, a 14-second pit stop dropped Gordon back to 4th place for the restart. He took 3rd from Kyle Busch on lap 127 and passed Kenseth for 2nd place on lap 131. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 142 just as Gordon moved low to make a bid for the race lead. Pit stops followed and Gordon restarted in 3rd place with 52 laps to go.

Gordon bided his time after the restart and took 2nd from Kenseth with 44 to go. As Gordon closed in on Johnson for the race lead with 34 laps to go, the caution waved for tire debris. He held the runner-up spot through the round of pit stops. On the restart with 27 to go, Gordon held the 2nd spot. He closed in on Johnson but was unable to make the pass. However, Johnson sustained a left front flat with 6 laps to go, which gave Gordon the race lead. Clint Bowyer's cut tire and spin brought out the caution flag with 2 laps to go. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 7th place for the green-white-checkered finish.

Turning point
With Gordon in the lead with 2 laps to go, a cut tire and spin by Clint Bowyer brought out the caution flag, which negated a near-certain victory.

JG's comments
"The closing laps were pretty much typical restart for me. I got the inside lane which was absolutely the worst lane for me. I got actually a decent restart and it just didn't go well. I went to the inside of the No. 18 he swerved left that put him in the middle, me on the bottom three or four wide and it just went downhill from there. I don't know where to begin with the disappointment for this team. They gave me the most incredible race car today and it is just so disappointing for it to end like that. I hate the caution came out. I hate Goodyear was not prepared today for what happened. They are so good at what they do and that is just uncalled for. We were having a tire issue there on that last long run and I just backed off. When I saw the No. 48 had issues I was just hoping we would make it to the end and I was just going as slow as I possibly could trying to maintain the lead and cars were just blowing tires left and right all around me. It's unfortunate that was happening. But most importantly that the caution came out because we did not need that restart."

Long Day, Longer Night In Bristol
FOOD CITY 500 - Bristol Motor Speedway. Finish: 7th

Early afternoon rain delayed the start nearly two hours. Gordon started 6th and moved to 4th within 5 laps. He took 3rd from Matt Kenseth on lap 10. He dropped a spot to Kenseth, but later passed Brad Keselowski to run 3rd at the competition caution on lap 50. Gordon came to pit road for tires. He made contact with David Ragan while exiting his pit stall as Ragan was making his way in. Gordon returned to pit road for repairs to the right front. He restarted 35th on lap 58 and moved to 32nd prior to a debris caution on lap 61. Gordon advanced to 26th by lap 85 as he worked in race traffic. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 23rd place. Gordon entered the top-20 prior to a caution flag on lap 118 for rain. Gordon came to pit road for tires and exited in 17th place. However, as rain continued, the cars came to pit road for a red flag delay.

After a three-hour red flag for rain, racing resumed shortly after 7pm/eastern time. Gordon dropped to 18th before the caution on lap 155. Cole Whitt spun in turn 1 to bring out the caution. Timmy Hill then inexpicably drove into the rear of race leader Matt Kenseth under caution. He moved up to 15th for the restart due to driver's opting for pit stops. Gordon fell to 29th prior to the competition caution on lap 188 as he battled handling issues. He came to pit road and restarted in 30th place. Gordon moved forward to 23rd place by lap 210. He re-entered the top-20 just before the halfway point and ran 17th on lap 250.

As the green flag run progressed, Gordon moved through traffic and ran 12th on lap 260. He entered the top-10 on lap 273 before a caution for Ryan Truex's wall contact. Gordon restarted 9th on lap 285. He took 8th from Brad Keselowski on lap 330, before a caution for David Ragan's spin. Gordon changed 4 tires and restarted in 12th place. He entered the top-10 within a lap of the restart and took 9th from Denny Hamlin on lap 344. A caution for Kyle Busch's spin on lap 395 brought out the caution. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 7th place. He moved to 6th when Matt Kenseth slid up the track and took 5th from Brad Keselowski with 85 to go. The ninth caution waved on lap 422 for Martin Truex's spin.

Gordon came to pit road for four tires and restarted in 14th place. With 65 to go, Gordon moved up to 9th place with a move around Tony Stewart. Five laps later he took 7th from Kasey Kahne. With 50 laps to go, Kevin Harvick's engine brought out a caution. Brad Keselowski was eliminated in the chain reaction. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 10th place with 39 to go. He took 7th from Kahne with 27 to go. With rain falling under yellow, Gordon came across the line to finish 7th.

Turning point
Gordon was running 4th with 50 laps to go, but opted to come to pit road for tires. He lost track position and was only able to get back to 7th place before the finish.

JG's comments
"It was a great battle by this Axalta Chevrolet. The whole team did an awesome job. We had a really good race car at different times throughout the night. It's crazy when we went back racing after the rain delay we just completely wore out the left-front tire in just like 20 or 30 laps. I mean we were going backwards in a hurry. Thankfully for that competition caution, but we fixed that and got the car better. Drove up into the top five, I was pretty happy. The car came up through there so good on four tires that we decided to put four more on. The [final] restart just didn't go the way I needed it to and we never got up through there again."

Consistent Beginnings
KOBALT 400 - Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Finish: 9th

It wasn't a victory for Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a solid 9th place finish was his third straight top-10 finish to begin the season. It's just the third time in Gordon's career that he began a season with three straight top-10's (1997, 2007).

Gordon started 15th and moved up to 12th prior to the first caution on lap 18 for fluid on the track. Gordon took 2 tires and restarted in 10th place. He moved to 7th by lap 40 while battling a loose handling condition. The second caution waved on lap 44 for debris. Gordon again opted for two tires and restarted in 2nd place on lap 48. However, he got a poor restart and dropped to 5th within a lap. As the green flag run progressed, he gained ground and took 4th from Martin Truex on lap 70. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 93. Following the cycle of stops, he ran in 5th place. Brad Keselowski took a spot and dropped Gordon to 6th by lap 100. Gordon regained the spot 25 laps later to re-enter the top-5.

Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 141 and cycled through in 5th place. A debris caution on lap 155 brought pit stops for the leaders. Gordon opted for fuel only and restarted in 5th. He fell to 6th after Kyle Busch went by with 100 laps to go. He re-entered the top-5 after Kevin Harvick pulled off the track with a brake problem. Gordon made a green flag stop for tires with 58 to go and cycled through in 8th place. The next caution waved for debris with 47 to go. Gordon came to pit road for fuel to ensure he could make it to the finish. He restarted in 9th with 42 to go. Gordon dropped outside the top-10 with 32 to go as Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson went by. With 19 to go, he re-entered the top-10 by passing Denny Hamlin. Gordon advanced to 9th with a move around Kyle Busch with 12 to go.

Turning point
Gordon's car seemed best on longer runs, as it was during the practice sessions leading up to the race. However, he was unable to make significant headway on the final restart with 42 to go and finished (9th) in the position he restarted.

JG's comments
"You've got to put things in perspective and looking at this race last year and the way that we were in practice yesterday, I would have given anything to finish ninth today. But we also got our expectations up a little higher than that because we were in the top 5 most of the day. So, the way that the pit sequences went there, they definitely didn't work in our favor. But it was a really solid effort by this Axalta Chevy SS team. I'm proud of them. To come out of here with a top 10 is something to be proud of. It just took so long for my car to come in. About the time it came in, it was time to pit. So, it was just like that same way there at the end of the race. As soon as my car came in, the race was over."

"I thought it was all good. There's a high groove and a middle groove and a bottom groove; and that's all we can ever ask for. I knew today was going to be one of the most challenging races that we were going to have, possibly all year long. And so, I feel like this team did an incredible job. I think we were much better than ninth, but at the same time, this I think is one of my worst tracks right now. We're off to a fantastic start. We're very motivated by that. We're excited."

Good At The End
CNBC 500k - Phoenix International Raceway. Finish: 5th

Jeff Gordon posted a 5th place finish in the CNBC 500k at Phoenix Raceway. Gordon charged from 14th up to the top-5 in the final 30 laps after he was caught off the lead lap by an ill-timed caution flag.

Gordon started 17th and moved up to 11th by lap 8. He entered the top-10 on lap 15 and took 8th from Greg Biffle on lap 23. He ran 6th when the competition caution waved on lap 35. Gordon gained a spot on pit road and restarted in 5th on lap 39. He dropped a spot on the restart and ran 6th on lap 45. Gordon re-entered the top-5 with a move around Kyle Busch on lap 46. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 5th. He held the spot through a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 113. Jimmie Johnson passed to send Gordon back to 6th on lap 120.

A debris caution slowed the field on lap 163. Gordon came to pit road for adjustments and restarted 8th on lap 168. Just after the restart, another caution waved for a melee in turn one involving Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, and Travis Kvapil. After dropping to 9th, the next caution came on lap 186 for Patrick's spin. Gordon moved to 8th with a pass on Kurt Busch on lap 192. He moved to 7th with 90 to go and led 4 laps during a green flag pit stop cycle with 73 to go. A debris caution on lap 246 had Gordon a lap down. He stayed on the track and opted for the wave-around to get back on the lead lap. Gordon restarted 13th with 61 laps to go. The sixth caution waved on lap 278 for debris. Gordon came to pit road for a two tire change and chassis adjustments. He restarted in 12th place with 30 to go.

Gordon moved up to 10th within 3 laps of the restart before the caution waved for David Gilliland's spin. On the restart with 22 to go, Gordon immediately moved to 8th. He took 7th from Kyle Busch with 18 to go prior to a caution for Kurt Busch's blown engine. The restart came with 9 laps to go. Gordon dove low on the backstretch to take 5th from Jimmie Johnson with 7 to go.

*First time JG has started the NASCAR season with consecutive top-5 finishes since 1997.

Turning point
Gordon came to pit road under caution with 30 laps to go for fresh tires. As a result, he had fresher tires than the drivers ahead of him and was able to make headway in the final laps.

JG's comments
"You know when Ryan Newman is in front of you on a restart it's going to get interesting. I didn't know if it was going to get interesting because me and him were side-by-side or because he got side-by-side with somebody else. We were able to capitalize on it. Our Pepsi Max Chevrolet started the race really strong and we just didn't like four tires. We needed two tires and we came in and got two on that last pit stop and unfortunately got caught under the caution under green a lap down. Great fight by this team. What a week it has been for this team from that top-five in Daytona, the Pepsi Max Test Drive II and then here we are with another top-five here at Phoenix. Great way to start the season."

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