May 2010 News

Fighting For The Night
May 31 - - Jeff Gordon spent the balance of the Coca-Cola 600 battling the handling on the DuPont Chevrolet en route to a 6th place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gordon was never a legitimate factor for the race lead, barring a late-race strategy move that put him at the front for an instant.

Gordon started 15th and dropped three positions on the first lap. By lap 5, he was back in the 20th position battling the slick track. He fell to 22nd on lap 25 and slipped to 23rd on lap 36. The crew made chassis adjustments when Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 53. Gordon ran in the 22nd spot when the pit stop sequence cycled through the field. The first caution waved for Juan Pablo Montoya's spin off turn two on lap 62. Gordon came to pit road where the crew worked to tighten the car up. The adjustments slowly came into affect as Gordon moved from 24th to 21st by lap 89. The second caution waved for Marcos Ambrose's spin on lap 91. The lead lap cars came to pit road with Gordon opting for two tires and departing in the 10th position. However, Gordon struggled on the restart and fell to 16th by lap 105.

A long green flag run followed and Gordon came in for tires on lap 147. He ran 15th when the sequence cycled through the field. The next caution waved for Denny Hamlin's cut tire after hitting the infield grass. Gordon changed two tires and moved up to 7th for the restart. He advanced two spots up to 5th on lap 173 as the race closed in on the halfway point. Gordon held 5th for nearly 20 laps before losing the spot to Jamie McMurray on lap 204. He fell to 7th when Paul Menard passed on lap 206. Debris in turn two brought out the caution on lap 213. Pit stops followed and Gordon restarted 7th on lap 218. He dropped to 9th within two laps after the restart as darkness enveloped the track. Gordon fell back to 11th on lap 260 as green flag pit stops began. Gordon ran 11th after the stops. Jimmie Johnson spun on the backstretch and hit the inside wall on lap 273 to bring out the caution. Gordon restarted in 10th on lap 278, and moved to 7th by lap 290.

Robby Gordon's wall contact brought out the caution with 100 laps to go. Gordon came to pit road and departed in 6th place. With 82 to go, he fell to 8th as the handling tightened up beyond his liking. Gordon came in for his final four-tire stop under green with 46 laps to go. When the stops cycled through, Gordon was back in 8th place. A caution flag with 25 laps to go brought most of the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon opted to stay out and inherited the race lead. Gordon dropped to 3rd within one lap of the restart as Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray easily passed him. Gordon hemorrhaged more spots and fell to 6th with 10 laps to go. At the front of the field, Kurt Busch backed up his victory in the All-Star race with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600.

JG post race comments

“Well the finish wasn’t bad, you know, a sixth place. I feel like that was the best we’d been. It was definitely a long, long 600 miles for us. We struggled at the beginning in the daytime and luckily stayed on the lead lap. We fought hard and got some track position and did our best to maintain it, but we just never really had it tonight. So we know we’ve got to work on some things for when we come back.”

"There were some long green flag runs so you don't get as many opportunities to hydrate yourself and take a rest. So that was pretty tough. It was a very humid night. When your car’s not quite where you want it and you’re working harder at that as well. And so mentally and physically it's a pretty draining race."

"That's the most disappointing thing about our week here in Charlotte is that I wrecked on the first lap of the All-Star event and it took away our ability to really gain valuable information. It’s the only night testing and practice that you really have. So with those guys really being able to tune on their car and have a car capable of winning there at the end of the All-Star even, I think it’s a big advantage. So I think when you run good in the All-Star race, you should run good in the 600. Those guys were good in both the daytime and nighttime, so it was pretty impressive."

"First. There is only one place to be and that's first. Tonight was a nice points race for us and points night. We jumped up to fourth (in points). Some guys had some trouble, but we want to run good. We want to lead laps and we want to be able to compete for the win. If you’re going to win a championship, that's all that really matters."

Turn The Page
May 23 - - Jeff Gordon's night in NASCAR's All-Star race didn't even make it to the end of the first lap. Gordon hit the wall coming off turn 4 on lap 1. The contact hindered handling on the DuPont Chevrolet for the remainder of the night. Gordon was later caught up in a wreck which resulted in a 20th place finish.

Gordon started 8th in the first segment and drilled the wall coming off turn four on the opening lap. He fell from 8th to 11th while battling a tight handling condition due to the wall contact. On lap 40, he moved into 10th where he finished the first segment. Following a pit stop, Gordon started 13th in the second segment of 20 laps. However, he was hindered by tight handling and dropped to 16th before passing Dale Earnhardt Jr for 15th with 5 laps remaining in the segment. Gordon came to pit road several times between segments for track bar adjustments and restarted at the rear of the field. He gained two spots in the opening laps of the third segment and ran 18th. In the closing stages he moved up to 13th where he finished the segment. During the 10-minute break, the Dupont team worked on the track bar and tow of the end in the hopes of improving the handling. Gordon started the final segment 13th and was collected in an opening lap wreck. Gordon hit Mark Martin's spinning car and damaged the front of the car after hitting the infield wall. The wreck ended a disappointing night for Gordon in NASCAR's All-Star race.

JG post-race comments

"It felt great through Turns 1 and 2; even felt great in the middle of Turns 3 and 4, but I just completely messed up. They got three-wide or two underneath me and I was just giving them room and trying to get a good run off of Turn 4 and I just totally misjudged it and got the right-rear in the wall hard. And it just ruined our entire night. I apologize to these guys. I wanted to see them in position there at the end. It's such a cool format and I wanted to see these guys in that position to be able to knock-off that four-tire stop and to try to win this race. But all we did was just kind of ride around and try to adjust on it and when you're car is beat up like that, it's a long night."

Concrete Jungle
May 16 - - Dover Internatonal Speedway has been one of Jeff Gordon's most vexing tracks over the last five years. Gordon struggled with handling issues during the Autism Speaks 400 and finished 11th. He dropped from 4th to 6th in the series standings.

Gordon started 15th and dropped two spots in the first 10 laps while battling a tight handling condition. After 20 laps he regrouped to take back the 15th spot from Jeff Burton. He ran in 14th when the first caution waved on lap 54 for Sam Hornish's wall contact. Gordon exited pit road in 13th place. On lap 65, he took 11th from David Reutimann and set his sights on the top-10. Twelve laps later, he entered the top-10 with a pass on Denny Hamlin. On lap 90, he took 9th from Mark Martin as his steady climb continued. By the 100-lap mark, Gordon was up to 7th. However, the car went to the tight side and Gordon dropped to 8th on lap 115. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 135. He battled a tight condition and dropped to 9th before Marcos Ambrose hit the wall to bring out the caution on lap 164. Gordon exited in 10th place after the crew removed a spring rubber to loosen the car up.

At the 200-lap mark, Gordon had slipped to 12th and complained about the handling to crew chief Steve Letarte. He ran 12th when the caution waved on lap 22 for Marcos Ambrose's cut tire. He left pit road in 15th place and had moved to 13th when a caution for Sam Hornish's wall contact slowed the field on lap 245. Gordon opted for a two tire change and gained four spots on pit road, departing in 8th place. Two drivers stayed out and Gordon restarted in 10th on lap 249. The handling didn't improve and Gordon dropped to 13th before the next caution flag on lap 276. With 108 to go, Gordon had moved up to 9th place. Five laps later, he fell to 12th after a brief altercation with Greg Biffle in turn one. Gordon came to pit road for his final pit stop with 36 laps to go. He ran 11th but was distantly behind race leader Kyle Busch in the closing stages. Busch went on to win his second race of the season and 18th of his career.

JG post-race comments

"To me, days like today are way more frustrating than not winning when we have the car capable of winning. I would rather go in to every race talking about that because when you have a fast race car like we have had, that drives good really makes things a lot easier. It just puts more pressure on you to win. Whereas today, man, it was a struggle. Just trying to make it better constantly. Trying to get track position. Trying to work our way to the front. Nothing we did ever really worked. We knew it was coming now we check this track off on the list of tracks we know we have to focus on because this race track is in the Chase. You always after day you have to find the positives of what you did well to carry you through to the next race. But you also have to critique yourself as a driver and as a team to see what you can do better. To me, today was frustrating because we really never gained on it. We started 15th and got up to like 8th one time and then we went backwards. We just kind of hovered in an area instead of really making any big gains where we could get ourselves up in the top-five and then see what we had for them once we had good track position. Days like today for me are the ones that really stand out for me to be more frustrating."

"Well, today we struggled. All weekend, really. So we've got this one checked on our list of tracks we've got to come back. And really, we've got to qualify better. I don't know if we were that bad if we could just get some track position. We just weren't very good in traffic. It was certainly a great team effort by our DuPont Chevrolet because we weren't real happy out there running in the back like that. It just goes to show, when the car is fast and we've been running the way we've been running, life is a whole lot easier (laughs). It just seems like everything is easier. So, we'll go to work on it and make sure when we come back here we're a lot better. Now we go to Charlotte for a couple of weeks and I think we're going to be really good there."

"Yeah, the race track, every lap, every corner (laughs). We would take off there and struggle on new tires. Then it would come in really good and we'd think okay here we go, we're going to go to the front; we'd catch somebody and just stop. It seemed like it was really hard to pass today. You've got to be careful what you wish for. We've been trying to talk Goodyear into laying rubber on the track and it laid so much rubber down that it actually made for new challenges where it was kind of a single groove race track. So, it was challenging and tough for everybody, but we're glad to stay on the lead lap and at least come out of here with a decent finish."

Off The Coast Of Carolina
May 8 - - Another week and another close call for Jeff Gordon in the hopes of breaking his year-long winless drought. Gordon finished 4th in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway after leading a race-high 111 laps. Gordon's fate was sealed with a late-race mental error coming onto pit road and then an ill-timed caution flag. Nevertheless, his seventh straight top-5 at Darlington vaulted him to 4th in the NASCAR points standings.

Gordon started 2nd and wasted no time heading to the front by passing Jamie McMurray off turn four at the end of the first lap. Brian Vickers ran Gordon down and took the lead on lap 38. The first caution waved on lap 47 for Michael McDowell's wall contact in turn two. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon holding the runner-up position. On the restart, Gordon dropped to 4th behind McMurray, Vickers, and Jeff Burton. Gordon took 3rd from Burton just before Joey Logano spun off turn four to bring out the second caution flag of the event. Gordon took 2nd from Vickers on the restart but lost the spot to Denny Hamlin on lap 67. The caution waved on lap 83 for Martin Truex and Jimmie Johnson getting sideways in turn four, which brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon opted for two tires and departed in the 3rd position.

On lap 90, Gordon dove under McMurray to take 2nd place off turn four. He then closed in and passed Tony Stewart for the race lead on lap 91. Gordon led until Danny Hamlin took the lead on lap 141 after Gordon battled lapped traffic. Gordon pitted during a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 147. Gordon ran 5 seconds behind Hamlin after the cycle of stops. Sam Hornish's wall contact slowed the field and the leaders came to pit road on lap 174. A two-tire change followed and Gordon was 2nd off of pit road. A few laps after the restart, Jimmie Johnson and AJ Allmendinger wrecked in turn three. After an extended track clean-up, Gordon battled Kyle Busch for position on lap 190. The next caution came at lap 201 for Tony Stewart's spin. Gordon came to pit road for a 2-tire change on the left side, and restarted in 12th place after 9 cars stayed on the track. Gordon was unhappy with the handling, but patiently worked his way back into the top-10 with 150 laps to go. A debris caution with 140 to go brought the leaders to pit road with Gordon in 9th place. Crew chief Steve Letarte opted for right side tires and Gordon departed in the 3rd position. He passed David Reutimann for the runner-up spot, and reeled in Jeff Burton for the race lead with 107 laps to go.

Gordon extended to a 4 second lead before Bobby Labonte and David Gilliland wrecked to bring out the caution with 86 laps to go. He changed four tires and dropped to 4th on the restart. With 65 to go, he took 3rd from Jamie McMurray, but ran distantly behind Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Gordon and Burton slowly tracked down Busch and Gordon moved to 2nd with 55 to go. Ten laps later, Burton passed Gordon for 2nd place. Gordon slowed to come to pit road for a green flag stop, but missed the pit road entry. On his second try, he was caught on pit road when a caution flag waved. Gordon dropped to the last car on the lead lap. He restarted in 11th with 20 laps to go. Within three laps he moved to 8th, and took 7th from Ryan Newman with 15 to go. Gordon took 6th from Kyle Busch with 12 to go, and passed Kevin Harvick for 5th four laps later. He took 4th from Juan Pablo Montoya in the closing stages, but was distantly behind race winner Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, and Kurt Busch at the finish.

JG post-race comments

"That is what happens when you make a make a mistake. You have to make it up to your guys who worked so hard all weekend long to give you a race car like that. I have to thank DuPont and National Guard, their Facebook page. It was a good weekend for us. They dropped the green and we were just a rocket. You have to worry sometimes here as long of a race as it is when it cools down how you are going to maintain that kind of speed and stay on top of the adjustments. We got off a little bit and some other guys ended up being a little bit better than us at times. Track position was just key tonight. I made a mistake there and lost the track position. They gave me an awesome car and drove up there to fourth, pretty happy with that.

"We certainly hope so. This team is doing the job that we need to do to get in to victory lane. Right now, we are knocking on that door. We are leading laps, we are running up front. We are having a lot of fun, that is for sure. It has been a while since this No. 24 car has run like this. I can't wait to get to Dover. I think we missed the setup a little bit (at Darlington). There were moments when we were awesome. Track position is just so important at this place. It just seemed like on two tires we were great, on four tires, we really struggled. We were going to come in and pit a little early and take two, I just didn't signal the guys behind me and I was going to get run over. I just didn't get slowed down good enough. My fault. Of course, Steve (Letarte, crew chief) is saying if we had pitted and the caution would have come out, we might have been in worse trouble, but I still don't like making mistakes like that. We had a great car and a great team. If we'd gotten out front, I think we had something for them. But I don't know if we were ever going to get out in front of the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin, race winner), he was good. I don't know. I would have liked to have seen what would have happened there. I'm happy that we drove up through there and got fourth. We didn't really have the best car in the second half of the race I felt like. But we were certainly good at trying to get track some position. I'm just so excited that we're running good and at we have DuPont and the National Guard Facebook page on our car tonight. We'll just go to Dover."

"I know. The one time we needed it and we didn't get it. That's kind of the way it's been for us for this year. I'm hoping we keep running the way we're running when those moments really count for these wins and this championship. I think the No. 31 (Jeff Burton) was really strong there at the end; at least at that last run. He was riding behind me and then all of a sudden just took off and went up there to the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin). But the No. 11 was really strong. I think he was probably the best car tonight."

Southern Crossed
May 2 - - The scene was all too familiar to Jeff Gordon fans. Their driver was leading the race in the closing stages -- and pulling away. However, a late race caution flag at Richmond International Raceway wiped out Gordon's lead in the Crown Royal 400, and he eventually lost the top spot with just five laps remaining.

Gordon started 4th and passed Jimmie Johnson for the 3rd position on lap 2. Three laps later he took the runner-up spot from David Reutimann. He held the second position until the first caution on lap 45 for Joe Nemechek's cut tire. The field came to pit road with Gordon exiting in 4th place after swinging wide to exit his stall because of Denny Hamlin directly in front. On the restart, Gordon moved to the outside line and took 3rd from Jamie McMurray. He took 2nd from Kevin Harvick on lap 62 but ran distantly behind race leader Kyle Busch on the long green flag run. Gordon inherited the lead when Busch came to pit road on lap 143. Two laps later, Gordon came to pit road for tires and gave up the top spot. When the stops cycled through, Busch remained as the leader with Gordon in 2nd place. A debris caution on lap 154 brought the leaders back to pit road with just 9 cars on the lead lap. Gordon exited in 3rd place after a four-tire change.

On the restart, Gordon immediately took the 2nd position from Clint Bowyer on lap 162. Debris on the backstretch necessitated a caution flag on lap 171. Pit stops followed and Gordon exited in 3rd behind Ryan Newman who took two tires, and Busch. On the restart, Gordon dove low to pass Newman and ran side by side with Busch for the race lead. Busch held the top spot, and Jeff Burton took the 2nd position from Gordon on lap 180. Gordon passed Busch for 2nd on lap 240 and closed to less than 1.5 seconds behind Burton for the race lead. On lap 250, Gordon got a run off turn four and took the lead from Burton. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 268 and held the lead through the cycle. Gordon continued to lead the race and came to pit road for a green flag pit stop with 37 laps to go. The complexion of the race changed with 34 laps to go when Elliott Sadler cut a tire and spun on the frontstretch.

Gordon stayed out and started on the inside with 23 laps to go. He pulled away to the lead, but David Ragan's spin with 21 laps to go slowed the field. Gordon led the field to the restart with 15 to go, and hauled the mail into turn one to get the lead. With 11 to go, Sam Hornish destroyed his car on the backstretch to bring out the caution. Gordon and Kyle Busch came to the restart with 5 laps to go. Busch took the lead on the outside line and Gordon washed up the track in turn three battling Kevin Harvick for the runner-up spot. Busch pulled away to win his first race of the season. With the runner-up finish, Gordon moved from 10th to 6th in the series points standings.

JG post-race comments

"It was a good one. We took off there at the beginning, got into second. I thought we might have something for Kyle Busch early. Then that second run, boy, he just was gone. You know, I felt like at that point we were just pretty much battling for a top two or three. Then Jeff Burton came up in there. I saw Kevin Harvick back there. Every once in a while he would make a charge. On the long runs, it got so slick, just seemed like it was so hard to make up ground. But then Burton got up there. I was impressed how good he was. He got by Kyle. We weren't that good at that time. But somehow those guys both faded. I was driving by Burton going, I don't know how in the world we're taking the lead right now because I was absolutely sideways, couldn't even touch the gas. It was a real finesse, like Kevin said, race tonight. That kind of fell in our direction with our setup and everything else. Unfortunately, those cautions came out. I got two good restarts. Then, you know, the guy I did not want to have to race on the restarts, who was unbelievable on restarts earlier in the day, was Kyle. When I went, he timed it perfect, got to my outside. I was a little bit loose. We weren't that good on restarts anyway. He just smoked us. So, you know, it was still a great finish. Great run for us. After the last couple weeks, we certainly needed this. We keep running like this, I think the wins will come."

"I've been doing this long enough to know they don't give out trophies for leading any lap other than the last one. We're a team that's made huge strides, in my opinion, from last year. Even though we finished third in the points last year, I don't feel we were near as competitive as we are right now. That's what I'm excited about. We're leading laps, a bunch of laps, at a lot of different types of tracks. I think our team is really on top of our game. Yeah, you know, it's a little disappointing we haven't won some races yet. If we keep doing this, those will come. We got to keep putting ourselves in position. Our cars that we've been leading those laps are not the kind of cars that you want a green-white-checkered or a late caution. That's something you have to think about. You have to try to figure out how to make an air pressure adjustment or do certain things to make your car really good on those short runs because we're seeing them every weekend and that's how you're going to have to win races. Just keeps us working harder, and myself. The last couple times we were leading on those green-white-checkereds, I didn't get very good restarts. Tonight I thought I pretty good one, but we just didn't have the car. We'll keep working at it. But I'm not ticked off. I'm pretty excited about the way we're running."

"We saw in practice he was really strong. He obviously qualified real well. He runs well here. The Gibbs cars run well here. That wasn't any big surprise to me. I was just hoping we could stay on top of our adjustments. I thought for the most part we did. We had a solid car all night long. I don't think we were ever worse than third all night long. You know, that's why we came home second. That's a great effort by us. I think the only frustrating part is Kyle was really strong, and I don't know they made an adjustment or something, he went backwards, and we had an opportunity to beat him. I felt like he really was the guy to beat all night. They were able to gather it back together and get back up there and, you know, win the race. They were the best car, except for that one run towards the end."

"Kyle was just unbelievable on the restarts. I followed him enough times early in the race to watch him run around the bottom on the inside. I knew that if I gave him the inside, he was going to drive by me faster than he did on the outside (laughter). I was struggling on that last restart. Kevin almost got by me, too. Luckily he raced me clean. I couldn't stay down on the bottom in front of him. I was just real loose on that last restart. You know, just an unfortunate sequence of cautions for us that wasn't to our favor and we finished second. That's bottom line.

"I was running second at the time. There were about 15 cars between me and Kyle. So when Kyle comes in here, ask him that question. They could have possibly kept a lot of those guys down. But I'm sure they're going to tell you they knew they were racing us. We were going to come in regardless and get four tires. It was the right time. With only eight cars on the lead lap, you think you're in pretty good shape to come back out towards the front. It was a little bit of a crazy race tonight. I mean, we were really picking 'em off there, especially Kyle. Kyle was in another zone at that time."

"I think we're way ahead of where we were last year. I think because the Chase format, you know, we're approaching this season different than we ever have before. Last year we came out, we were consistent, we were running okay, we won a race at Texas. I didn't think we were near dominant enough, leading enough laps, or diverse enough to run good at a lot of different types of tracks to compete for the championship. I feel like that's the difference for us this year. Other than the win column, I feel like we're dominating races at times, we're leading laps pretty much everywhere we go. We're running up front. We're putting ourselves to win races late in races. Our pit crew is strong. Everything is going good, other than getting the win. I'm extremely happy with the way things are going. I think we're a better team than we were this time last year."

"If you look at it, those late cautions, more cautions came because of 'em. I don't know what happened. You know, it was, what, five to go. I guess I was a little bit surprised. I didn't want to see any more cautions, I can tell you that. I had enough of them there. You know, we had one too many in my opinion. I think we could have held 'em off that second to last one. But I didn't want to see that last one. I don't think I would have wanted to see another one. I would have been starting on the outside lane, then I would have had Kevin on the inside, I probably would have fell back another spot."

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