April News

The Grind
TOYOTA OWNERS 400 - Richmond International Raceway. Finish: 11th

Kevin Harvick came on late and scored his first victory of the 2013 season under the lights at Richmond International Raceway. Juan Pablo Montoya appeared to be cruising to his first win since 2010, but a late race caution flag brought pit strategy into play.

Jeff Gordon struggled with handling in the first half of the event before rallying back to 11th place at the finish. Gordon started 3rd and moved into the runner-up spot by the end of lap 1. He fell back to 3rd when Clint Bowyer went by on lap 14. Gordon battled handling issues and dropped to 5th on lap 20. He continued losing spots and ran 10th on lap 25. Gordon dropped to 12th prior to the first caution on lap 42. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 14th place. After the restart, Gordon continued his backslide through the field and ran 18th on lap 55. He fell out of the top-20 on lap 62. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 25th place in danger of going a lap down. A caution for Marcos Ambrose on lap 110 slowed the field and brought pit stops. Adjustments were made on the #24 car and Gordon restarted 24th on lap 115. He advanced to 21st prior to the next caution flag on lap 145. On the restart, Gordon moved from 23rd to 21st and then re-entered the top-20 on lap 158. A caution on lap 159 for Brad Keselowski's wall contact brought Gordon back to pit road for tires. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 18th place.

Gordon moved up to 16th before a caution on lap 232. He held the spot through a round of pit stops. Gordon took 15th from AJ Allmendinger on lap 274 and took 13th place prior to a caution on lap 292. A caution on lap 307 brought Gordon back to pit road for tires and he restarted in 13th place. With 74 laps to go, Gordon moved into the top-10 when Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson made contact and spun in turn 2. Gordon came to pit road and restarted in 14th place. After the restart he dropped to 18th place, but gained two spots after Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne wrecked on the backstretch. Gordon stayed out during the caution period and moved up to 9th for the restart with 57 laps to go. He advanced to 8th when Kurt Busch spun Martin Truex with 53 to go. Gordon fell to 9th with 22 laps to go, and slipped to 10th with 17 to go. His fade continued as Jamie McMurray dropped him out of the top-10 with 15 laps to go. Gordon was 12th when Brian Vickers brought out a caution with 5 laps to go. He came to pit road for tires and restarted in 14th place for the green/white/checkered finish. He gained 3 spots in the final 2 laps to post an 11th place finish. Gordon has just 1 top-10 finish in the last 7 races. However, he moved up to 14th in the series standings.

Turning point
Handling issues plagued Gordon for the balance of the event. He seemed to win the track position game late in the event and ran as high as 7th with 50 laps to go, but was unable to hold the spot.

Best Of A Bad Situation
STP 400 - Kansas Speedway. Finish: 13th

Matt Kenseth dominated the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway en route to his second victory of the 2013 season. Kenseth led 163 of the 267 laps in the event. Jeff Gordon struggled with track position for the balance of the day and posted a 13th place finish after starting at the rear of the field.

Gordon officially started 43rd, but moved to 39th at the drop of the green flag. He moved up to 38th by the first caution on lap 5 for Kyle Busch's spin. Gordon stayed on the track and moved up to 32nd place after the restart. He ran 30th on lap 15 and advanced to 26th by lap 25. Gordon gained three more spots in the next 10 laps to move into 23rd place. The next caution waved on lap 38 for Dave Blaney's wall contact. Following a pit stop, Gordon moved to 15th place. He ran 14th when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 72. Gordon opted for four tires and restarted in 18th place. He dropped out of the top-20 shortly after the restart. He regrouped and took 20th from Joey Logano on lap 82, and then moved into 18th place on lap 85 prior to a caution period for Elliott Sadler's wreck. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 15th place, more than 10 seconds behind race leader Matt Kenseth. The next caution waved on lap 103 for Kyle Busch's second spin of the day, which collected Joey Logano in a hard crash in turn 3. Gordon came to pit road for two tires and restarted 18th on lap 115. He dropped to 20th shortly after the restart, but moved around Aric Almirola and Brian Vickers to take 18th place on lap 122.

At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 16th place. He came to pit road under green on lap 163 and returned in 21st place. The next caution waved on lap 172 for Vickers' wall contact. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 7th place. He dropped to 10th prior to the next caution for a multi-car incident involving Sam Hornish, Marcos Ambrose, and Casey Mears. Gordon fell to 14th shortly after the restart on lap 186. He moved up to 13th on lap 190. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 217, just as the caution waved for debris on the track. Gordon was trapped a lap down but took the wave around to get back on the lead lap. He restarted 22nd on lap 224 and moved up to 19th with 40 laps to go. Ten laps later he moved into 16th place and closed on Jeff Burton for the top-15. With 20 laps to go, Gordon closed on Kurt Busch for the 14th position. After passing Busch, he set his sights on Ryan Newman and took 13th place with 4 laps to go.

Turning point
Gordon was running 13th when he came to pit road on lap 217. However, an ill-timed caution flag put him a lap down and took him out of contention of a possible top-10 finish.

JG's post-race comments

"It cost us probably a good six positions I think. We weren't the best car, but we made some great improvements throughout the weekend. The race pace just kind of came to us and the conditions in the race. Really kind of brought us to life compared to the competition. We are still lacking a few things, but all in all I thought it was a great effort. We just cannot catch a break. That last caution that definitely hurt us being on pit road when the caution comes out it's never a good thing unless you are on a road course (laughs). We were looking pretty good up until that point, but we weren't the only ones that it hurt."

"Well, I mean if you would have asked me when the race started or before the race started 'hey you are going to finish 13th today,' I would say 'that is not bad.' When you find yourself where you are a sixth or seventh place car and you think you can finish there then 13th is a little disappointing. You are constantly changing your expectations throughout a race. That is kind of how it was for us today. Starting 43rd I was not looking forward to that. It actually went a little bit better than I anticipated. We were able to make our way up through there and actually had some cautions fall our way at the beginning of the race. That last one just didn't fall the way we needed it to."

Late Night Trouble
TEXAS 500 - Texas Motor Speedway. Finish: 38th

It looked as if Jeff Gordon was on his way to his 300th career top-5 finish. He led 15 laps at Texas Motor Speedway, but was running behind Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr with under 30 laps to go. But he suddenly slowed with a tire problem and subsequently pulled behind the wall with a wheel bearing issue. Gordon posted a 38th place finish -- his lowest since the 2012 Daytona 500.

Gordon started 8th and moved into the top-5 by lap 30. A debris caution on lap 35 brought the field to pit road. Gordon gained a spot on pit road and restarted in 4th place. He dropped a spot prior to the second caution for Ricky Stenhouse's spin in turn 3. As the race neared the 70-lap mark, Gordon settled into 4th place. He took 3rd from Martin Truex just before the next caution waved on lap 81, which brought the field to pit road. Gordon gained a spot in the pits and restarted on the outside of the front row. However, the inside line powered by and Gordon dropped to 5th on lap 88. He regrouped and took 4th from Brian Vickers on lap 92 and moved around Matt Kenseth for 3rd on lap 98. After a round of green flag pit stops on lap 130, Gordon ran in 2nd place.

Gordon eventually tracked down Kyle Busch and took the race lead on lap 188. He made a green flag pit stop on lap 200 and returned to the race in 3rd place behind Martin Truex and Busch. He took the runner-up spot from Busch on lap 217. A caution at lap 222 brought the field to pit road with Gordon exiting in 2nd place. He fell to 3rd after the restart, but again began running down the leaders on the longer run. A caution with 54 to go came during a green flag pit stop sequence. Gordon had not yet pitted prior to the caution and restarted in 3rd place. However, the wheel issue forced him to the slow with 28 laps to go. It was his 2nd DNF in 7 races this season. He dropped to 15th in the series standings.

Turning point
A tire problem with 28 laps to go forced Gordon to slow on the track. Following the pit stop, he went to the garage with a burned wheel bearing.

JG's comments

"I'm not sure maybe a burned wheel bearing or something. No signs. Just went down the back straightaway and went to go to the brake and the brake pedal was spongy and the car just didn't turn. I thought I had a left-front tire going down. Man that was unfortunate. That Cromax Pro Chevy was awesome fast. It was so much fun to drive and what a great job this team has done to prepare for this weekend and hopefully more to come on these mile and a halfs with more cars like that. We'll learn what happened and we'll try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Most importantly, we know we have a fast race car and we know we can put another fast race car out there on the track."

"I don't know for sure. We won't ever know for sure until we pull it all apart. It's just unfortunate for it to happen that close to the end and to be running that good. I'm pretty upset. This team has just worked so hard to try to claw ourselves back into the points; and we had a great weekend last weekend and we were having a great day. The racing in the passing is difficult when you've got three cars all running the same speed out there. I've never seen three cars just sit there and run the same lap time after the same lap time; and run in the same line, too. I was trying to deviate from my line and made a few gains on Kyle (Busch), so I thought I might have a shot at him before this thing was over. I don't know about Martin (Truex, Jr.), but we won't know."

Ground Game
STP GAS BOOSTER 500 - Martinsville Speedway. Finish: 3rd

It wasn't an 8th career victory at Martinsville Speedway for Jeff Gordon, but a 3rd place effort was his best of the 2013 season and has propelled him to 13th in the series standings. Jimmie Johnson held off Clint Bowyer after a late race restart to claim his 8th win at Martinsville and 62nd of his career.

Gordon started 6th and took 5th from Kasey Kahne on lap 10. The first caution waved on lap 16 for Danica Patrick's spin. On the restart, Gordon moved around Joey Logano to take 4th place. Three laps later he took 3rd from Marcos Ambrose. Gordon moved to the runner-up spot with a pass on Brian Vickers on lap 47. The second caution for Scott Speed stopping on the track brought the field to pit road on lap 71. Gordon restarted 5th after a spring rubber was pulled out of the right rear. Gordon moved to 3rd shortly after the restart on lap 78. He again took the runner-up spot and closed on race leader Jimmie Johnson after the 100-lap mark. Gordon dropped to 3rd on lap 156 when Kyle Busch went by. Jamie McMurray took 4th from Gordon on lap 165. A debris caution slowed the field and resulted in pit stops.

Gordon exited in 5th place, but quickly moved to 3rd within a lap after the restart. A multi-car incident on lap 180 resulted in more than 10 cars sustaining damage. Gordon restarted 4th on lap 197 and held the spot until the next caution on lap 240. However, Gordon made an error and overshot his pit stall. He had to back up into the stall and dropped to 14th place. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 15th place while mired in traffic. A caution for Carl Edwards cut tire and subsequent spin brought out the caution. Gordon came to pit road for tires and a track bar adjustment. He slipped to 17th on the restart due to hitting Kurt Busch following a cut tire, Gordon sustained minor damage on the front of the #24 car. He moved up to 15th before a caution on lap 279. Pit stops ensued with Gordon opting for tires and a chassis adjustment. Gordon restarted in 14th on lap 286. Kurt Busch's spin brought the caution on lap 291. Gordon came to pit road for tires and the team inserted a spring rubber and restarted in 19th place.

Following the restart, he steadily moved through traffic and ran 15th on lap 320. Ten laps later, he took 13th from Tony Stewart. On fresher tires, Gordon entered the top-10 with a pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 338. With 150 laps to go, Gordon ran in 9th place. A caution for Ryan Newman's tire slowed the field. Gordon took 6th from Brad Keselowski with 125 to go and entered the top-5 with 90 to go with a pass on Kyle Busch. He took 4th from Matt Kenseth with 74 laps to go, and moved into 3rd by passing Clint Bowyer with 60 to go. Five laps later he took 2nd from Kasey Kahne. Brian Vickers' spin with 52 to go slowed the field. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 2nd on lap 455. On the restart, Gordon dropped in line behind race leader Jimmie Johnson. With 35 to go, Bowyer took 2nd place from Gordon. A caution for Kurt Busch's crash with 14 to go slowed the field and brought a red flag condition for 10 minutes.

The green flag waved with 8 laps to go with Johnson pulling ahead of Bowyer in turn one. Gordon battled side by side with Kyle Busch for half a lap before settling into 3rd place behind Bowyer. Gordon posted his best finish of the season. It was the first time since April 2006 that Gordon failed to lead a race at Martinsville.

Turning point
As Gordon was making headway toward Johnson for the lead, Brian Vickers spun with 52 laps to go. The #24 was far better during the event on longer runs. The short runs toward the end of the event gave Johnson the victory.

JG's comments
"We just didn't need those cautions there at the end. I made a mistake on pit road and got us way behind. What an incredible effort from this [team]. They had good pit stops and then made great adjustments. We were really tight in the middle part of the race and then, boy, that thing just took off. On the long run, I felt like we had the best car. You know those cautions are going to come out. We tried to free it up. We just didn't free it up enough. I was just trying to get the front end to cut. I knew that we didn't quite have it. We needed more laps there at the end. Congratulations to Jimmie -- he's so impressive here. The thing that impressed me the most is the poles. Where does that come from? He at least used to give us a shot when he'd qualify like 15th. When those guys get that #1 pit stall, they're almost impossible to beat. We needed that 3rd place finish. I'm very proud of this team."

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