April News

Wrong Place, Wrong Time
CROWN ROYAL 400. Richmond Int'l Raceway: Finish: 39th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon started 6th and was hooked up from the ouset as he moved to 3rd on lap 10. However, Gordon battled a loose handling condition going into the corner and was unable to make headway toward the lead. He dropped to 4th at the 70-lap mark and fell to 5th when Kyle Busch passed. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 89 and cycled through in 9th place. At the first caution flag on lap 104, Gordon was up to 6th. Gordon's handling improved after a pit stop and he took 3rd from Clint Bowyer on lap 120. Shortly before the halfway point, Kurt Busch's wall contact brought a caution to slow the field. Gordon came to pit road and exited in 3rd behind Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. On the restart he moved to 2nd behind Busch. Gordon briefly took the race lead for 3 laps before Busch re-assumed the top spot on lap 205. A caution on lap 236 brought Gordon to pit road for a track bar adjustment. He lost positions battling a loose car and returned to pit road 15 laps later when Jimmie Johnson wrecked Joey Logano. With 100 laps to go, Gordon ran in 5th before a caution for Brad Keselowski's spin. After pitting, Gordon restarted 12th and was the victim of a wreck on the backstretch when Matt Kenseth got turned. Gordon spun across the track and slammed the inside wall on the backstretch. He climbed from the damaged car under his power and was credited with a 39th place finish -- his worst finish since Michigan in August 2008.

Road ahead: The series heads to the 1.36-mile Darlington Raceway for a Saturday night affair. Gordon's performance on intermediate tracks has been an uphill climb in 2011. However, Darlington is far from the typical intermediate track with its narrow and abrasive racing groove.

JG's comments
"It knocked the wind out of me. I just saw the corner through my mirror, a car come into my left rear, and around I went in a hurry. I was hoping that I spun quick enough that I wasn't going to spin to the inside wall. And then I hit really, really hard. I'm just so proud of these guys on the DuPont Chevrolet. We had an awesome race car tonight. I don't know if we had a car capable of winning, but we were certainly going to give it a heck of a try and we certainly had a top-five car pretty easy. So, I hate it with the pit sequence and the pit strategy that was going on there that we lost all that track position. With 100 (laps) to go and everyone was just getting so impatient; you had to dive in there three-wide. I don't know what happened behind me but somebody shot up and got my left rear and around we went. I must have hit the corner of that inside wall. Again, I wish they had a Safer barrier there. I seem to be able to find the ones without the Safer barrier. But what a shame, man."

"Well, there is 100 to go. I think it is a little early, but any time you have cars that stay out, cars that take two, cars that take four, they are going to be diving in there taking it three wide. I was having to do it to. Iím sure not blaming anybody else. Just kind of the circumstances when weíre like that. I just think that we got the bad end of it."

"I know. I don't know what it is. I'm not trying to teach anybody anything. I really am not. I think it is pretty well known we need safer barriers everywhere. You think it is a short track and everything but man, I hit a ton and hit right on the corner where you donít want to hit. It definitely got my attention. That is for sure. It rang my bell."

Edged At The Line
AARON'S 499. Talladega Superspeedway: Finish: 3rd

Rewind: Jeff Gordon started from the pole and hooked up in a tight draft with Mark Martin. The duo moved ahead of the field and Gordon led the first 9 laps. The pair was overtaken by Denny Hamlin on lap 10. Gordon and Martin dropped to 32nd and 33rd after making a swap among themselves. They worked their way up to 27th before Landon Cassill hit Brian Vickers on the backstretch to bring out the caution flag on lap 28. Gordon came to pit road out of sequence with Martin and restarted near the rear of the field. Gordon and Martin ran in 25th/26th for most of the next 50 laps. A multi-car wreck in turn three on lap 90 eliminated Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, and Trevor Bayne. Gordon and Martin ran together in 25th before a debris caution with 60 laps to go. Gordon and Martin ran well behind the next incident with 49 laps to go when Kyle Busch spun and collected Matt Kenseth. The pair moved up to 15th/16th with 35 laps to go. Gordon restarted 21st with 20 to go. With 15 laps to go, Martin pushed Gordon up to the top-5. After Ryan Newman's spin slowed the field, Gordon restarted 3rd with Martin in 5th with 11 laps to go. On the final lap, Martin pushed Gordon to the lead on the backstretch, but Clint Bowyer edged ahead on the upper groove. Gordon implored Martin to protect the bottom of the track, but his teammate was unable to do so. As they exited turn four, the combination of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr moved to the low line and edged ahead of Gordon and Bowyer at the finish line. Gordon posted his third top-5 finish of the season with the 3rd place effort.

Road ahead: After an off-weekend for Easter, the series will head to the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway. Gordon's pre-season test notes from Pikes Peak -- as well as the Phoenix victory -- should bode well for the Richmond chassis set-up.

JG's comments: JG post-race press conference transcript

The Last Drop
SAMSUNG 500. Texas Motor Speedway: Finish: 22nd

Rewind: After starting 32nd, Jeff Gordon took two tires on the first pit stop on lap 9 to gain 8 positions. He restarted 24th but fell back to 29th within four laps. A caution on lap 45 allowed the DuPont team to make chassis adjustments. Gordon was unable to make significant headway and additional adjustments came under caution on lap 113. As the night sky enveloped the track, Gordon moved to 22nd on lap 160. However, he went a lap down less than 20 laps later as the handling woes continued. A caution on lap 208 allowed Gordon to get back on the lead lap by staying on the track. He lost the lap during a long green flag run, and went another lap down on lap 226. He made the lap up trying to stretch the fuel to the end of the event, but ran out on the backstretch of the final lap. Gordon finished a difficult night in Texas in the 22nd position.

Road ahead: The series heads to Talladega Superspeedway -- which should resemble the Daytona 500 with two-car drafting partners hooking up for extended periods of time. Gordon qualified on the outside of the front row at Daytona. His restrictor plate program for Talladega should be strong. However, plate racing often comes down to drafting partners and avoiding the multi-car melee(s).

JG's comments: None

On The Rebound
GOODY'S 500. Martinsville Speedway: Finish: 5th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon's car looked solid at the outset and he moved from 21st to 13th in the opening 50 laps. However, he failed to make headway over the next 50 laps and ran 12th on lap 100. He moved into the top-10 on lap 145, and lined up 7th for a restart on lap 179. He made his way around Kyle Busch and entered the top-5 on lap 200. Gordon took the runner-up spot from Juan Pablo Montoya just before a major wreck on lap 221 involving Martin Truex and Kasey Kahne. The race was red flagged while track clean-up ensued. When the green flag waved, Gordon took the lead from Clint Bowyer on lap 253. However, Bowyer re-assumed the top spot from Gordon just three laps later. Gordon fell to 5th place before he was able to get back to the inside line. He dropped further back to 8th while battling a loose handling condition. Gordon steadily made his way back to the front and took over 2nd place by lap 310. With 135 laps to go, Gordon eased ahead of Kyle Busch for the race lead. However, Busch passed Gordon for the lead with 108 laps to go. Gordon was caught on pit road during a late race caution and restarted 9th with 29 laps to go. He made up four spots and posted his 12th top-5 finish in the last 13 races at Martinsville. Gordon gained four spots in the standings and is now 12th in the points race.

Road ahead: The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night. After a disappointing effort at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in early March (similar 1.5-mile track), Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson will look to ride the momentum of a good effort at Martinsville.

JG's comments:
"We did have a great day with our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. Don't forget to text Hunger to 50555 and help us out. I was real proud of Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all the guys on this team today. We weren't great at the beginning. We just worked our way up there slowly, took our time and were patient. Then we had a race car that could run with these guys and we got there and took the lead. That one time I got real lose. I don't know it just seemed like the track changed on us there at the end and that caution did not help us any either so that got us behind. I thought it was an awesome day for us to drive up there to fifth at the end."

"You know, it was really good. These tires were tricky today and getting track position was tough but we were really patient with the car at the beginning of the race and then it started coming to us and I thought that Alan and the guys in the pits just did an excellent job and we got ourselves out front, we just couldn't seem to stay there when it counted most and Kyle was really, really strong on that one run and we couldn't hold him back and we just tried to hang with him but when that caution came out when we pitted so that caught us out so we had to make up our track position at the end so it was a great top-five finish for us."

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