April News

Another Near Miss
TOYOTA 400 - Richmond International Raceway. Finish: 2nd

Jeff Gordon led 173 laps and finished 2nd in the Toyota 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Gordon had the dominant car on longer runs, but a series of late race restarts hindered his efforts. He dropped to 4th in the closing stages before moving up to 2nd behind race winner Joey Logano following contact on the track in a battle between Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. It was Gordon's 7th top-10 finish in 9 races this year. He remains the NASCAR points leader.

Gordon started 25th and moved into the top-20 by lap 10. He ran 13th at the competition caution on lap 40. He gained four spots on pit road and restarted 9th on lap 44. He took 7th from Jimmie Johnson on lap 55 and advanced to 6th with a move around Joey Logano by lap 60. Gordon passed Dale Earnhardt Jr and Clint Bowyer to run 4th on lap 65. He took 3rd from Kasey Kahne on lap 68 and moved into the runner-up position around Kevin Harvick on lap 91. A debris caution on lap 99 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon gained a spot in the pits and restarted with the race lead on lap 104. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 161. Gordon held the lead through the pit stops. However, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano went by on lap 174 to send Gordon to 3rd place. He regrouped and took 2nd from Logano on lap 188, and re-assumed the race lead on lap 210.

A caution for debris on lap 226 brought pit stops. Gordon again held the lead through the round of stops. Logano took the lead from Gordon on lap 244 as the #24 again struggled early in the green flag run. Gordon passed Logano for the lead on lap 252 and set things on cruise control until a caution on lap 296 for Ricky Stenhouse's wall contact. Dale Earnhardt Jr beat Gordon off pit road to claim the race lead. On the restart, Gordon dropped to 4th on the outside line before the tire pressures came up. With 80 laps to go, Gordon took the 3rd spot from Earnhardt Jr. He passed Keselowski for 2nd with 68 to go and re-assumed the lead from Logano with 65 to go. With 39 to go, Matt Kenseth ran down Gordon and took the lead. A caution for Jimmie Johnson's cut tire with 33 to go brought the final pit stops of the night. Gordon left pit road in 3rd place as he slowed near the exit of the pits to allow Earnhardt Jr to depart in 2nd, which gave Gordon the inside line behind Kenseth for the restart with 25 laps to go.

On the restart, Logano got past Gordon prior to a caution for Denny Hamlin's spin with 23 to go. Gordon started on the outside of the second row with 18 laps to go. He moved to 3rd when Logano spun his tires. A caution for JJ Yeley's engine slowed the field with 15 to go. On the restart, Gordon moved to the runner-up spot behind Kenseth. With 6 to go, Keselowski moved along side Gordon on the outside line. Gordon held the line but lost a spot to Logano. After Keselowski tapped Kenseth, Logano moved to the lead with Gordon in 2nd place.

Turning point
A four-way battle in the late stages between Gordon, Keselowski, Logano, and Kenseth was altered when Keselowski and Kenseth made contact, allowing Logano to open a healthy lead en route to the victory.

JG's comments
"The restarts are something we're really adamant about this year, because it was definitely hurting us last year. Tonight we really didn't have a good short run car. We had a really good long run car. About 40-50 laps [into a run], it was the best car out there. I had a blast tonight. Great short track racing at Richmond. To have a race car like that to drive from 25th up to the front was so much fun. Joey was in the right place there. He had a good short run car. We were battling it out. Matt was making his car really super-wide, which you have to do to try and win. It just didn't come down the way that we needed. We needed a little bit longer run. We're showing up at the race track with cars capable of winning. It's just a matter of time before we do win."

"He was making his car real wide. I ultimately thought that might have cost him not just the win, but more positions. But as good as the 2 car was at the end, the 2 was probably going to win. The 2 was so much better than him. Had he just run his line around the bottom, then the 2 was going to get the outside and go right on by. All night long I had to let the 2 and the 22 go by me because they were so fast for 10 laps and then I'd reel them back in. You can't do that at the end when you're leading the race. So, I think Matt did what he felt like he needed to do. He made his car really wide and probably didn't make the guys behind him very happy."

"I'm not a fan of the dual tread zone. We had it at Texas and the cars just slid the front getting in the corner. That was the same case here. It just has no grip in the front getting in the corner. But I also think we're doing a great job with this tire and making our car go fast. So, while I don't like the way it drives, I also think we're very competitive with it. I'm not going to say a whole lot. I will just second what Kyle Busch said. I think the idea behind this is to make it more durable. And that does not seem to be the case. So there needs to be more research that goes into it to try to perfect it."

"We're running really good and I'm excited about that. Anytime you're running this good consistently week in and week out on all different types of race tracks, it gives you confidence as a driver and a team. But you also know this year more than ever, you have to close that out. If you're going to lead that many laps and have that good of a car, you have to close it out. You have to get the win. This confidence will build if we keep running like this. But eventually it can also fall off if we don't put a win or two together."

Stops And (Re)Starts
SOUTHERN 500 - Darlington Raceway. Finish: 7th

Jeff Gordon's consistent start to the 2014 season continued with a 7th place finish at Darlington Raceway. It was Gordon's 6th top-10 in 8 races this year. Gordon remains the NASCAR points leader by a single point over Matt Kenseth.

Gordon started 9th and moved up to 6th by lap 10. He entered the top-5 on lap 16, and took 4th from Aric Almirola on lap 20. As the run progressed, he passed Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to run 2nd on lap 36. One lap later he took the race lead from Joey Logano. The first caution waved for Ryan Truex's cut tire and subsequent wall contact on lap 40. Gordon held the race lead through pit stops. However, he lost the lead on the restart to Harvick. He dropped to 3rd before regrouping to take 2nd from Busch on lap 51. The next caution came on lap 58. Gordon restarted in 6th after opting for four tires. He moved to 4th by lap 70 and took 3rd from Denny Hamlin on lap 75. A caution on lap 93 for Michael Annett's wall contact brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon restarted in 4th and took 3rd from Hamlin on lap 103. He took the runner-up spot from Kenseth on lap 114.

A caution for Cole Whitt on lap 125 brought the leaders to the pits. Gordon restarted in 2nd alongside Harvick, but immediately dropped to 3rd when Brad Keselowski passed. Gordon eventually went by to regain 2nd place on the longer run. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 180 and cycled through in 3rd place behind Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick. A caution for Paul Menard's cut tire on lap 200 slowed the field. Gordon exited pit road in 4th place, and moved up to 3rd within a lap of the restart. Lap 221 brought a caution for Aric Almirola's spin. Pit stops ensued with Gordon restarting in 5th place after taking four tires. He took 4th from Kahne on lap 235 and passed Ryan Newman for 3rd on lap 244. Gordon passed Keselowski for 2nd place just prior to a caution on lap 246. He restarted in 2nd place on lap 252, but dropped to 4th within a lap. He took 3rd from Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 254 and moved to 2nd around Brian Vickers on lap 257. Menard's second wall contact of the night brought out the caution on lap 271. Gordon restarted 6th after taking four tires.

Gordon jumped to 4th a lap after the restart and took 3rd from Greg Biffle with 86 laps to go. He passed Earnhardt Jr for 2nd place with 76 to go. He held the spot until green flag pit stops with 46 to go. Gordon cycled through in 5th place with 44 to go. Gordon was disantly behind in 5th place when the caution waved with 9 laps to go. Gordon opted for two tires and restarted in 4th place with 5 to go. He slipped to 5th behind Harvick prior to a debris caution to set up a green/white/checkered finish. On the restart, Gordon struggled and dropped to 7th place. Kurt Busch's crash on the backstretch set up a second green/white/checkered restart. Gordon held the spot to cross the finish line in 7th place.

Turning point
A caution with 9 laps to go gave Gordon a possible make-or-break opportunity. Although the #24 was a solid top-5 car all night, a two-tire gamble helped with track position for the restart.

JG's comments
"We had a really strong race car. Everything was going well. Kevin with the #1 pit stall and he was fast too. I thought we were a little better than him on certain runs. Towards the end we started fading. I got in the wall and flattened the right side. From there our night went downhill. We made some mistakes and got behind. We were the last car on 2 tires and we got ate up on those restarts. Actually, that last one wasn't bad to come home 7th, I thought it was going to be a lot worse than that. So, it's good to be leading the points. I feel like it's a missed opportunity, but another great race car and I'm happy about that."

Calculated Gamble Nets 2nd Place
DUCK COMMANDER 500 - Texas Motor Speedway. Finish: 2nd

A two-tire gamble for Jeff Gordon nearly worked to perfection at Texas Motor Speedway. Joey Logano edged Gordon for the victory in the Duck Commander 500 after opting for four tires on the final pit stop with 2 laps to go. Gordon had emerged from pit road with the lead, but was passed for the top spot coming to the white flag. Nevertheless, the second place effort gave Gordon the NASCAR points lead for the first time since May 2009.

Gordon started 12th as the field ran the first 10 laps under yellow while crews completed track drying. The green flag waved on lap 11 and the second caution came one lap later when Dale Earnhardt Jr crashed in turn 1 after misjudging the infield grass. Jimmie Johnson, who was running directly behind Earnhardt Jr, sustained damage to the front of his car from the mud on the infield grass. Gordon entered the top-10 on lap 28 and took 7th from Kurt Busch on lap 36. He moved into the top-5 by passing Trevor Bayne on lap 42. The competition caution waved on lap 49 and brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon exited pit road in 4th place.

Gordon took 3rd from Greg Biffle on lap 63 and took the runner-up spot from Tony Stewart on lap 88. He took the race lead during a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 98. Gordon dropped to 3rd following the stops. He returned to 2nd place on lap 128 with a move around Brad Keselowski. Gordon again took the race lead during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 142. He came to pit road one lap later and cycled through in 2nd place behind Kyle Busch after Denny Hamlin received a pit road speeding penalty. Gordon tracked down Busch and took the lead on lap 153.

A debris caution on lap 176 slowed the field and brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon held the lead through the pit stop sequence. Keselowski took the lead from Gordon after the restart. As the run progressed, Joey Logano passede Gordon on lap 214 to send him to 3rd. A caution for Kurt Busch's cut tire slowed the field on lap 219. Pit stops ensued with Gordon restarted 4th on lap 224. He held the outside line and moved to 3rd behind Logano and Keselowski. A debris caution on lap 254 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon gained a spot and restarted 2nd on lap 259. Keselowski went by on lap 265 to send Gordon to 3rd. He fell to 4th when Kyle Larson passed on lap 296. Gordon came to pit road for the final time under green with 35 to go. Following the stops he ran in 6th place.

He took 5th from Kyle Larson with 25 to go, but gave the spot back with 9 to go. With 2 laps to go, NASCAR waved the caution flag after Kurt Busch cut a tire on the apron. Gordon came to pit road and opted for two tires. He emerged with the race lead for the green/white/checkered finish. However, Joey Logano had four fresh tires and got a run on the #24 car heading into turn 3. He drag raced Gordon to the start/finish line and took the lead as the white flag waved. Gordon held 2nd for the final lap and posted his best finish since winning at Martinsville in October 2013.

Turning point
Gordon was running 6th in the closing stages when a caution for Kurt Busch's cut tire allowed crew chief Alan Gustafson to gamble on tires. It nearly worked to perfection.

JG's comments
"We were really strong the first half of the race. When the sun came out, some guys came to the front and we just lost the handling and got real tight. So, it was a great call by Alan Gustafson. Everybody on this #24 team did an awesome job in the pits. I so badly wanted to get this Texas A&M Engineering maroon -- and those Aggies -- a win here in Texas. I have to thank Axalta Coating Systems for making this possible. They're a great company. One of the biggest coating companies in the world, and all of our sponsors. That was an awesome race all day so I have to thank the fans for coming out and watching that one. It was a great battle. At one point, I thought we didn't have a shot at all. We got a pretty good restart. Joey was right on me and I was pretty loose through turns 1 and 2. I wish I would have gone a little bit higher down in turns 3 and 4. He got a run off of turn 4. He got in the back of me and I thought I was going to wreck. So, at that point I was like, 'Second would be good.'

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