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Off The Gas
COCA-COLA 600. Charlotte Motor Speedway: Finish: 20th

Rewind: An ill-timed caution flag at the end of the Coca-Cola 600 likely cost Jeff Gordon a top-10 finish. Gordon started 11th and moved to 8th within 5 laps. However, he dropped to 9th and stayed there for the next 30 laps. He slipped to 10th on lap 40 when Matt Kenseth passed. Gordon held 10th through a cycle of green flag pit stops just before lap 50. Two laps later he fell out of the top-10 when Dale Earnhardt Jr went by. Debris in turn 1 brought out the caution on lap 75. Gordon held the 11th position through the pit stops. At the 100-lap mark, he ran in 9th place just before a caution for Bobby Labonte's spin. Gordon departed pit road in 19th place after a four-tire change while others opted for just two tires -- although he was unable to make significant headway after the restart. He pitted under green on lap 146 while mired in 19th place. A debris caution on lap 170 brought the field to pit road with Gordon in 20th place. Another caution just before the halfway point for Jamie McMurray's engine allowed Gordon to come into the pits to repair his radio. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 23rd place as darkness began enveloping the track. He reported a "sluggish" engine issue on the straightaways and came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 229. Four laps later the caution waved for Mike Bliss who stopped on the track. On lap 250, Gordon moved up to 19th but remained mired in race traffic. Gordon led a lap during a pit stop sequence when the caution waved. He restarted in 10th on lap 284 and moved to 9th prior to Landon Cassill's crash on lap 294. Gordon stayed on the track during the caution and restarted in 5th place. He moved to 3rd before Ryan Newman and Mark Martin wrecked in turn 4 on lap 301. Gordon inherited the lead by staying on the track during the caution period. He came to pit road with 80 to go under caution while most of the other lead lap cars stayed on the track. He restarted 16th and moved up to 11th within 20 laps. Kyle Busch's spin with 58 to go brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon changed two tires and restarted in the lead with 53 to go. He lost the lead within two laps of the restart and dropped to 3rd with 45 to go. With 30 laps to go, Gordon dropped to 7th place. Gordon came to pit road for fuel with 6 laps to go. A caution for Jimmie Johnson's engine trapped him one lap down. He finished the event in 20th place.

Road ahead: The series heads to Kansas Speedway for the first time in early June. The Kansas race was traditionally in October. The second race at Kansas was put on the schedule for the first time in 2011. Based on the 1.5-mile improvement the #24 team has shown of late, there is reason for optimism as the schedule turns to the summer stretch.


Costly Errors
ALL-STAR CHALLENGE. Charlotte Motor Speedway: Finish: 15th

Rewind: A restart miscue preceding a pit road mistake doomed Jeff Gordon's chances in the All Star race. Gordon started 12th and moved to 9th on lap 20 after the field became strung out around the track. The field pitted on lap 25 with Gordon holding 9th place through the sequence. He dropped back to 10th on lap 38 when Matt Kenseth passed, but re-took 9th with a pass on Mark Martin on lap 43. During the break, Gordon pitted for four tires. In the second segment, Gordon moved to 7th in the opening laps and took 6th when Kasey Kahne wrecked in turn 1. Gordon moved into the top-5 toward the end of the second segment. He restarted in 3rd to begin the third segment. On the opening lap, Gordon took 2nd from Carl Edwards. Regan Smith's spin slowed the field and Gordon restarted on the outside of Kyle Busch. Gordon got a poor restart and dropped to 6th where he finished the segment. A break to work on the cars preceded a four-tire pit stop. Gordon came off pit road in 15th position for the restart after a slow pit stop. He ran the final 10 lap segment relatively conservatively and finished the event in 15th. Gordon hasn't posted a top-10 finish in the All-Star race since 2006.

Road ahead: The event was held under the same conditions as the second half of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 28, thus providing an ideal window for a test session. Gordon's team has struggled on the 1.5-mile tracks in 2011, but the performance at the All-Star event shows they may have turned the corner toward improvement.

JG's comments

ON THE NEXT TO THE LAST RUN, YOU GUYS SEEMED REALLY FAST. HOW WAS IT GENERALLY TONIGHT?
"Our car was awesome. I think we made some huge improvements for sure to be able to keep up with the guys that have been so fast on the 1.5-mile tracks, the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth). I still think we've got a little bit of work to do. I donít know what happened on the pit stop. All of a sudden my guys were just thrown up on the right front. I thought I overshot the pit, but I don't think I did, so I guess they got hit. So that took us out of it for sure. I mean my re-start didnít do us any favors so that was a bummer. But as far as a race car, man, we had an awesome race tonight. You know, the closer we got to the front, the better it got, which was obviously pretty normal. And that's exactly what we needed. So, we'll make a few adjustments and we'll be ready to rock and roll for the 600 next week."

DID ANYBODY HAVE ANYTHING FOR THAT NO. 99 CAR?
"Gosh, he was impressive you know. One time I got in front of him and we actually pulled away from him, I was impressed. But my car was pretty tight at that time and I didn't think I was going to be able to stay in front of him for long. But we didnít get to find out because I messed up the restart. But he was really strong. Even not taking tires, his car just really rolled. All the Roush cars to me roll in the middle of the corner better than we did. We made big gains and we've just got a little bit of work to do to get where they're at."

CAN YOU TELL US JUST WHAT YOUR STRATEGY WAS FOR THE DIFFERENT SEGMENTS?
"Well, the only thing that we really changed up is we didn't pit for that third segment, which was a great call by (crew chief) Alan Gustafson. I questioned it but we got a good restart and got up there. I more questioned just how good our car was going to restart. And we restarted really well and got up to second and man, I was happy about how the car was driving and we were in great shape. And even with me messing up the restart we still ended up sixth, so it was a great call by Alan to do that. And I think we were in great shape there but we had a problem on a pit stop where couple of my guys I think, got ran over."


Gambling Down
FEDEX 400. Dover International Speedway: Finish: 17th

Rewind: A late two-tire change didn't work out for the DuPont team and Jeff Gordon posted a 17th place finish at Dover Internatonal Speedway. Rain washed out qualifying and Gordon started in 21st place. He moved to 17th by the first caution on lap 20. He came to pit road for two tires during the caution flag period and restarted in 23rd. At the competition caution on lap 40, Gordon had moved up to 16th. A four-tire change put him back in 24th for the restart, but he gained two spots by lap 50. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 110 and cycled through in 19th place. He moved up to 17th on the long green flag run on lap 155. A caution flag for light rain on lap 163 allowed Gordon to make up distance as he was about 3 seconds in front of the leader. With open pit stalls in front and behind, Gordon exited pit road in 15th position. He ran 13th at the halfway point. A debris caution on lap 215 brought the field to pit road. Gordon exited in 9th place -- the first time he cracked the top-10 during the race. However, he struggled on the restart and slipped to 12th within five laps. Gordon entered the top-10 on lap 281 during a green flag pit stop sequence, but ran 12th when the field cycled through on lap 292. A caution for Kasey Kahne with 70 to go brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon exited in 11th place. He dropped to 12th before a caution for Juan Pablo Montoya's spin with 40 laps to go. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for two tires and exiting 4th. He restarted 5th after Mark Martin stayed on the track. On the restart, he fell back immediately on the inside line and ran 10th on lap 367. He fell further through the field and finished the race in 17th place. Gordon has just one top-10 finish in the last 5 races.

Road ahead: The All-Star race precedes the Coca-Cola 600 -- both at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gordon has struggled on the 1.5-mile tracks thus far in 2011 with less than stellar efforts at Las Vegas and Texas. The All-Star race provides an opportunity for an extended test session under the lights. Of course, a fourth victory in the All-Star event would be the ultimate prize heading into NASCAR's longest race on Memorial Day weekend.


Late Night Fade
SOUTHERN 500. Darlington Raceway: Finish: 12th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon started 5th and moved to 4th within one lap due to the inside line. He moved to 3rd on lap 11 by taking the high line around Denny Hamlin. He held the position through a caution flag and pit stop sequence on lap 35. Tony Stewart took 3rd from Gordon on lap 56 as the #24 car slipped back. A caution flag brought the leaders to pit road with Gordon departing in 6th place after opting for four tires. After slipping back on the restart, Gordon narrowly missed the spinning car of Jimmie Johnson in turn 1 on lap 84. He restarted in 6th on lap 89, but battled handling issues after lap 100. He fell to 10th on lap 125 when Martin Truex went by. Gordon moved back to 7th and ran there until the halfway point of the event. Following a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 180. Gordon ran in 8th place. He took 7th from Jamie McMurray on lap 185. A caution for Johnson's second spin of the night brought the caution on lap 225. Gordon re-entered the top-5 by exiting pit road in 5th place. With 120 laps to go, Gordon moved up to the 3rd spot. He lost a spot on pit road under caution and restarted 4th with 83 laps to go. He brushed the wall with 50 laps to go and dropped to 5th before a round of green flag pit stops. Following the stops he dropped back and ran 8th with 20 laps to go. A caution with 10 to go brought the field to pit road. Gordon opted for 2 tires and restarted 10th. Wrecks involving Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick moved Gordon up to 9th for the green/white/checkered restart. He slipped back to 14th before rallying on the final lap to finish 12th.

Road ahead: The series heads to the 1-mile Dover International Speedway. Gordon hasn't won at Dover since 2001, but tested at the track in late April as part of the Goodyear tire test.


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