Random News - May 2002

To The Extreme
JOHNSON CITY, TN. (May 27)- - "Sure you like NASCAR, but have you got it bad?" Those words from a NASCAR promotional television commerical certainly ring true for the Witt family in Johnson City, Tennessee. They became Jeff Gordon fans in 1993 and haven't missed a race since. "I wanted to show people who I pulled for because on the way to the race at Charlotte in 1993 you would see cars and people at the track but you could not tell who they pulled for," Diana Witt said. A Chevrolet Cavalier, painted in the familiar rainbow paint scheme, was autographed by Jeff at Bristol in 1993. The following picture gallery leaves no doubt who their favorite driver is.
+"The Gordon House"

Familiar Face
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 24)- - After sporting a goatee in the days leading up to The Winston, Jeff Gordon vowed he'd keep it only if he won the event. He finished 11th and it was gone the following day. Though he had an alterior motive for shaving the whiskers. "My sister got married on Sunday and I had to look presentable for her," Gordon said. "Besides, I didn't win with it. You know that you've gotten quite a reaction when they have a poll online about whether you should shave it or keep it on. After I'd already shaved it, though, they voted I should keep it." (Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 17)- - NASCAR has scheduled a private test session at Richmond International Raceway on May 21 after the track sealer produced disasterous conditions during the running of the Pontiac 400 on May 5. Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace will participate in the test while Goodyear tries a variety of tire combinations. Winston Cup director John Darby said NASCAR isn't convinced the sealer is the problem, which is why the sanctioning body scheduled a test. One possiblity is that Goodyear, which switched the type of tire it is using this season, has given the teams rubber not compatible with Richmond. Darby said he was disappointed that a Chevrolet will not be at the test. Jeff Gordon was asked to participate in the test but declined. "The problem is as race teams we want to help NASCAR all we can but then they also ask us to run 36 races a year," Gordon said. "I mean, how are we supposed to do all our testing, all the races we have to do and then go to Richmond to try to find out if it was the tires or the sealer because we didn't have as good a race and we didn't have as much side by side racing? I would have gone if I was available because I do like to help them out, but it's an awful lot to ask out of the teams."

Right Place, Right Time
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 17)- - Jimmie Johnson was facing an uncertain future in August 2000. His Busch team was losing its sponsor at the end of the season and a potential deal for a sponsor had fallen through. He had shown flashes of brilliance in ASA and Busch and had begun fielding offers. He needed career advice and felt someone such as Jeff Gordon could provide him with a road map. A week before the Michigan Busch race, Gordon and Rick Hendrick decided to pursue a four car team for HMS-- with the fourth team sharing resources with Gordon's #24 DuPont team. "They had kicked around some names and ideas, but they had no direction," Johnson said. "I'm sitting on the couch at home thinking that if I could get some advice from, say, a Jeff Gordon or someone who has probably seen a situation like this, maybe they could give me something I can use. That day at the drivers meeting, Jeff Gordon sits behind me and I think, 'Well, here's your chance.' I turn around and say, 'Do you have a few minutes that you could hear me out and maybe give me some advice?' He said, 'Sure, stop by the trailer.' It was just as coincidental as that." Johnson was one of the drivers that Gordon and Hendrick had eyed for the fourth team. The pieces fell into place rather quickly after that and Johnson was signed shortly thereafter. Johnson has piloted the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet to a victory and two pole positions in the first 11 races of 2002. In racing as in life, timing is everything.

Testing At Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, KS. (May 10)- - Jeff Gordon participated in a Goodyear tire test at Kansas Speedway on Tuesday-Wednesday, May 7-8. Joining Gordon for the test session were Jimmy Spencer and John Andretti. For Gordon, it was a return to the track where he scored his last Winston Cup victory in September 2001. Gordon was asked about returning to the scene of his most recent victory. "I've been to quite a few places this year I've won at, and I didn't win," Gordon said. "Obviously, a win would do a lot for us. But this team has gone through enough. We're strong enough we're not going to let this season hurt our confidence level. But I hope we don't have to wait until we get back here to get our first win." Despite the victory lane dry spell, Gordon doesn't feel his team is in a slump. "You always create expectations when you win six races," Gordon said of his 2001 championship season. "We expected to keep on rolling. But this sport humbles you in a hurry. We haven't necessarily had a bad year, but we haven't had the good fortune to pull into victory lane. People just don't understand how difficult this sport is, how teams improve over the offseason. You have a season where you win five, six races, you make it look easy, but every time I pulled into victory lane I was shaking my head. We're sixth in points, we're leading laps. We don't even consider it a slump. Because of what our team has gone through the last couple of years, because we stepped down and worked our way back up to winning the championship, I think there's a lot of respect in the garage area and the media. I think we'll be able to handle it really, really well because of what we've gone through."

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