April 2008 Random News

All The Wrong Moves
TALLADEGA, AL. (April 28) - - The closing laps at Talladega Superspeedway are always referred to as a 195 mile per hour chess match. Jeff Gordon made all the right moves in the closing stages of both Talladega races a year. This time around he lost more than a proverbial bishop. Gordon was shuffled out of line and was collected in a last lap wreck. The resulting crash dropped him to an unofficial 19th place finish. In the closing stages he stayed in a tight draft on the low line. On the final restart with five laps to go, he went from 5th to 3rd and then pushed Kyle Busch into the lead. With two laps to go, Gordon pulled out of line trying to get a run on eventual winner Busch. He expected Juan Pablo Montoya to give him a push from behind into the lead. Instead, Montoya dove low and went with Busch. The lower line powered by Gordon before Ryan Newman came in to offer help. As the cars took the white flag, Jimmie Johnson led a line of cars through the middle and past Gordon. He slipped back and was collected in a multi-car wreck in turn two. Gordon slammed the turn two wall with the right side of the car and nearly stopped on the track to avoid spinning cars ahead of him. Since the field freezes at the moment of caution, the decision to slow -- while no doubt safer -- cost him a few positions in the running order. "I just made bad decisions left and right," Gordon said. "They told me about the run coming. I saw Montoya coming and it looked like they had a pretty good run. I tried to go up there and use that line. It was just too early. I should have stayed down low and waited it out another half of a lap. You certainly have to wait for a very long time. Sometimes you can wait too long and sometimes you go too early and today we went to early."

Music City Sessions
NASHVILLE, TN. (April 22) - - Jeff Gordon visited the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22-23, but his visit has nothing to do with a sponsor appearance or even a visit to Music Row. Rather, he was testing two cars at Nashville Speedway -- a 1.3-mile D-shaped oval. Since the track is not on the NASCAR Cup series schedule, Gordon can make multiple visits to the track without incurring an official NASCAR test date. Following the Talladega race, Gordon will return for another two-day test session at Nashville. Upcoming tests include Charlotte in early-May, and the Virginia International road course in preparation for the Sonoma race in June.

Drawing On The Legacy
AVONDALE, AZ. (April 13) - - It might seem like Jeff Gordon's legacy in racing would be his 81 victories and four championships. But looking at his on-track statistics only tells part of the story. Gordon recently granted his 200th wish to a child from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gordon routinely meets children with life-threatening illnesses at race tracks across the country. "It's humbling to know that these kids choose to spend time with me," Gordon said. "They face tremendous challenges every day because of their conditions, and the strength and determination they show is really inspiring to me. It's just heartwarming to see their smiles and know they are enjoying themselves at a difficult time in their lives." The strength and determination shown by the children should serve as motivation and inspiration for Gordon to turn a lackluster season around when racing resumes on April 27 at Talladega Superspeedway. Gordon started the Phoenix race with a loose race car. An ill-timed caution flag put him a lap down in the mid-stages. However, he gambled by staying out during a caution period to get the free pass when another caution waved shortly after the restart on lap 146. As the laps wound down, Gordon was on the cusp of the top-10 but needed a brief stop for fuel -- which relegated him to a 13th place finish. "We were way off on fuel," Gordon said. "We were six laps short. So there was no way we could make it." He finds himself 13th in standings and 9 points away from a spot in the chase for the championship. "We we were real loose at the start and we got caught on pit road, which didn't do us any favors," Gordon said. "But I was very proud of the fact that we were able to fight back and get out lap back and then battle with two tires up there. We were flirting with a top 10. And then of course we didn't have the fuel mileage that some of those other guys did."

Last Place Revisited
SOUTH FLORIDA. (April 9) - - Jeff Gordon's 43rd place finish at Texas Motor Speedway was a rare occurrence in his Cup series career. Gordon finished 43rd just one other time -- at Texas in 1999. However, he has finished dead last in the starting field on other occasions. Gordon finished in last place in both North Wilkesboro races in 1993. He crashed early in both events and finished 34th. At the time, there were only 34 cars that started the short track races at North Wilkesboro. In 1997, Gordon blew an engine early in the spring Atlanta race and finished 42nd in a 42-car field. In the Nationwide (Busch) series, Gordon finished in last place at Bristol in the spring of 1991. The engine in the Bill Davis Racing Ford expired just 22 laps into the race, which resulted in a 32nd place finish in a 32-car field.

Clueless In Texas
FORT WORTH, TX. (April 6) - It was a lost weekend for Jeff Gordon at Texas Motor Speedway as he struggled with handling problems from the outset of practice on Friday until he spun the car into the wall during the Samsung 500 while running a lap down. Crew chief Steve Letarte was unable to come up with a handling package suitable for Gordon during the race. Finding a setup that worked for Gordon at Texas was as useless as looking for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie. Gordon started 18th and dropped to 25th on lap 5. He was in 36th just 10 laps later and was spared going a lap down after a caution flag on lap 29. The pit stop and subsequent chassis adjustments made no headway and Gordon was running 33rd when he went a lap down on lap 70. On lap 109, he spun backwards in turn four and hit the wall with the rear and right side of the car. He brought the car to the garage for repairs and returned to the track later in the day for an extended test session. His feedback to his crew chief during the test session was far from promising as Texas is one of the tracks in the 'chase for the championship.' Gordon finished in last place in Texas and resides 14th in the series standings, 91 points out of 12th place-- the last position to qualify for the chase.

Prelude Once Again
ROSSBURG, OH. (April 5) - For the second consecutive season, Jeff Gordon will compete in the Prelude To The Dream dirt track event at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. On June 4, Gordon will join 25 of his NASCAR peers -- including Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Matt Kenseth -- for the event. The live, commercial-free broadcast will be shown on pay-per-view for $24.95 and is available to more than 61 million homes. "The Prelude is a fun, but unbelievably competitive race," said Stewart. "Last year's race was probably the best yet as Carl Edwards held off Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon for the win." Proceeds from the telecast will support construction of Victory Junction Gang Camp II in Kansas City, as well as the Tony Stewart Foundation. All drivers will pilot 2,300-pound dirt late-model stock cars capable of putting out more than 800 horsepower.

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