May News

300 By 700
SOUTHERN 500 - Darlington Raceway. Finish: 3rd

Jeff Gordon scored the 300th top-5 finish in his 700th career start. Gordon led 16 laps in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, but was unable to gain track position late in the event to challenge for the win.

Gordon started 8th and moved to 6th by the end of lap 4. He dropped to 7th on lap 14 when Matt Kenseth went by. Gordon battled a tight handling condition and fell back to 8th on lap 20. Gordon moved back into 7th place after getting around Martin Truex on lap 45. Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 53 and returned to the race in 9th place. He moved to 8th prior to the next green flag stop on lap 103. Gordon ran 9th when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 124. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 8th on lap 129. He advanced two spots shortly after the restart and ran 6th on lap 140. Gordon took 5th from Kurt Busch on lap 151. Following a pit stop, Gordon assumed the lead for 15 laps before Kyle Busch took the top spot on lap 205.

Gordon dropped to 5th prior to a round of green flag pit stops. The second caution waved with 66 laps to go when Regan Smith spun. Gordon restarted 6th with 59 to go and moved to 5th prior to Casey Mears' crash two laps later. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 4th place. On the restart, Gordon fell to 7th after Matt Kenseth spun his tires in front of him. A caution for Josh Wise's crash slowed the field with 39 to go. Pit stops ensued and Gordon restarted 6th with 35 to go. The next caution waved when Kasey Kahne crashed in turn 1. Gordon moved up to 4th for the restart with 30 to go. He closed in on Denny Hamlin for 3rd but was unable to make headway and finished 4th.

The 4th place effort was Gordon's 300th career top-5 finish. He became the 2nd youngest driver in NASCAR history to reach the milestone.

Turning point
Track position hindered Gordon's shot at a victory, but he scored a much-needed top-5 finish -- just his second top-5 of the season.

JG's comments
"I was excited that Darlington was going to be the 700th start. This team was ready to go out there and do battle. That's what it takes at this tough race track. I'm really proud of this team. I thought Alan called a great race. We made the right adjustments at the right time and got good track position with tires at the end. So, we needed track position. I thought our car was actually pretty fast there at the end. We just couldn't quite get it. We were always balancing between tight and loose. Right there at the end was about the best the car had been. It took off really good, but it started getting tight on me. Then Jimmie started catching us. I think that's about the best we could have asked for, but you always want to get out there in clean traffic and see what it will do."

Hard Days Night
AARON'S 499 - Talladega Superspeedway. Finish: 11th

Day became night at Talladega Superspeedway as the Aaron's 499 finished more than 7 hours after it began due to a lengthy rain delay. David Ragan and David Gilliland posted a 1-2 finish for Front Row Motorsports after a green/white/checkered restart where they drafted past Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards at the front of the field. Jeff Gordon was involved in two separate incidents and came home with a hard fought 11th place effort.

Gordon started 9th in the Imron Elite Chevrolet and dropped out of the top-20 by lap 5 on the inside line. As is the nature of racing at Talladega, Gordon drafted back into the top-10 by lap 11. He moved to the outside line and drafted with Casey Mears up to 7th place. By lap 18, Gordon led the outside line and moved into the top-5. He ran 4th when the first caution waved on lap 21 for Trevor Bayne's engine. Gordon came to pit road for a 2-tire change and restarted in 3rd place. He fell to 8th by lap 40. Three laps later, he sustained front end damage as he was caught in the middle of a multi-car wreck in turn 1. Kasey Kahne was turned into the wall and Gordon hit the front of Greg Biffle's car in the ensuing melee that collected more than 10 cars.

Following repairs to the front fenders on pit road, Gordon restarted in 32nd on lap 52. He ran at the rear of the field while battling a toe-in problem. He drafted with Landon Cassill as the pair ran nearly a half minute behind the leaders. Gordon stayed out to lead during a cycle of green flag pit stops. The lead pack went by Gordon on lap 102 to put him a lap down. A caution for rain on lap 123 found Gordon in 28th place, one lap down. The intensity of the rain picked up and the event was red flagged.

After a three-hour delay, the race resumed at 7pm/eastern time. Gordon immediately went to his pit stall for additional repairs on the car. Gordon restarted in 29th place (1 lap down) with 56 laps to go. He moved to 28th after Joey Logano pulled behind the wall but was unable to keep pace with the lead draft. Following the final green flag pit stop, Gordon ran in 25th place. A caution for Michael McDowell's wall contact with 14 to go brought out the caution. Gordon received the free pass to get back on the lead lap. He restarted 25th with 10 laps to go. He moved to 24th and was collected in a multi-car wreck in turn 3 with 6 laps to go. Gordon spun sideways on the apron and continued on to cross the line in 16th place. Gordon came to pit road to clear the grass from the front of the car. He restarted 15th for the green/white/checkered finish and moved into 11th for the finish. Gordon moved up to a tie for 13th in the series standings.

Turning point
Gordon had nowhere to go when a multi-car wreck began in front of him on lap 43. The front of the car was damaged, which impacted the handling during the event.

JG's comments
"I thought we got lucky in that first accident. We were kind of squeezed but we made it through. But the damage was a little bit more severe than we anticipated. I also had the toe knocked out so the speed or the handling wasn't there in the car."

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