SONOMA, CA. (June 27)- - Jeff Gordon's season took another dramatic downward shift as transmission problems relegated him to a 32nd place finish in the Save Mart 350 on the road course in Sonoma, California. After moving up to second in points following a runner-up finish at Darlington in early May, Gordon has plummeted to 14th in the standings after posting five finishes of 30th or worse in the past six races. At Sonoma, things started off on the right track as Gordon led from the pole. He was able to hold eventual race winner Tony Stewart at bay for the first 32 laps. After a pit stop, Gordon was in a position to regain the lead when the field cycled through the stops. However, the transmission got stuck in gear on lap 41. "I went up into Turn 2 and I went to go to second gear and it wouldn't go," Gordon said. "It just stuck and it was stuck in third or fourth gear. I rode around and luckily we caught a caution and fixed it." Gordon lost a lap in the pits while the crew fixed the transmission. On lap 59, he got back on the lead lap thru the free pass when a caution came out. He steadily worked through traffic and was running 22nd with 5 laps remaining. A decent finish wasn't to be as the transmission again faltered in the late going. "The internal parts in the transmissions were fine," crew chief Robbie Loomis said. "We tested these transmissions at (Virginia International Raceway) and used them at Pocono without a problem. But every problem we had today was with the linkages and that shouldn't happen-- these things should be worked out by now." Suffice to say, change isn't always a good thing. "Probably the last time I ever run that transmission," Gordon said. "We've won a lot of races with old faithful, you know, so I guess that's what we'll go back to. I guess it doesn't do us any good if we're faster if we don't make it to the end. We've just got to make sure it doesn't happen again and it's very frustrating. I'm getting to the point where I don't care about points-- I don't even care about the championship. All I care about is getting our stuff going and getting ourselves to be in these races where we can put ourselves in contention to win. Right now we've got a lot of other things to get straight before we can even think about a championship." He finished 33rd and is now 414 points behind new points leader Greg Biffle.
On The Outside Looking In
BROOKLYN, MI. (June 20)- - Jeff Gordon struggled to a 32nd place finish in the 400-mile race at Michigan International Speedway. Gordon started off with a loose handling condition that was simply incurable. Tire problems further hindered his efforts as he finished three laps down. Gordon finds himself in an unfamiliar position-- outside the top-ten in the series standings in excess of 400 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. To qualify for the "chase for the championship" he'll need to gain entry into the top-ten in the standings. A task that seems more difficult than many envisioned after Gordon started the season with a dominant performance in the Daytona 500. "It was beyond frustrating," Gordon said. "We were just lost. We started out pretty good and then wore the right sides out. I kept having the car jump sideways and kept hearing something breaking in the tire. We weren't that great to begin with. It was just very frustrating. I don't know, I'm just glad we're going to a road course." Crew chief Robbi Loomis said tire wear was only an issue on his car's first run, but by then the damage was done. "The wear definitely got better as the rubber got laid down on the track, but we never got the feel he was looking for," Loomis said. "We thought the car was great in practice and we felt like the DuPont Chevrolet was going to be really strong. That's why they call it racing."
At the front of the field in Michigan, Greg Biffle stayed out during a late race caution period and inherited the top spot from Tony Stewart. As the laps wound down, Stewart was unable to mount a charge and Biffle captured his series-leading fifth victory of the season.
BLAKESLEE, PA. (June 13)- - It wasn't a resounding victory, but after three straight races that ended in the garage area with a wrecked car, Jeff Gordon got what he needed at Pocono Raceway-- a solid top-10 finish. Gordon faced an uphill climb by starting dead last after repairs were needed when he hit the wall in qualifying. However, he worked his way up to a ninth place finish-- the first time he's finished a race since Mother's Day weekend. The finish boosted him from 11th to 9th in the series standings. Gordon battled a loose handling condition for the balance of the day, but managed to work his way through traffic at the outset. He was up to 20th by lap 35, and moved to 4th by gambling on two tires during an early race pit stop. He soon slipped back outside of the top-ten after 70 laps. Gordon re-entered the top-ten on lap 98 but came to pit road on lap 112 after sensing a tire problem. The caution flag waved shortly after that, which trapped him one lap down. The upside is that he received the free pass for being the first driver one lap down. He restarted in 29th place on lap 122 and entered the top-20 in just seven laps. However, his progress became slower as the field strung out over the 2.5-mile track. Gordon came off of pit road on lap 150 in 15th, and gained three spots in the next 20 laps. After the final round of pit stops, he was in 12th place. With 6 laps to go, he moved into the top-ten after Ryan Newman cut a tire. The last restart saw Gordon get around Jamie McMurray for 9th place just as Bobby Labonte spun out. Since the last restart was under green/white/checkers rules, the race ended under the yellow flag with Carl Edwards scoring his second victory of the season.
DuPont Extends Thru 2008
WILMINGTON, DE. (June 6)- - Since Jeff Gordon broke into the Cup series at the end of the 1992 season, his primary sponsor has been DuPont Co., a Wilmington, Delaware-based science company. The sponsorship agreement was renewed for an additional three years beyond 2005, extending to 2008 with options for two additional years. "DuPont has been extremely good to me," said Gordon. "I really couldn't imagine racing without that DuPont oval on the car. Over the years, they have become family and their business ethics and standards have made them a company that I am proud to represent and that I am honored to be able to continue to represent. Hopefully, we can pull that DuPont Chevrolet into many more victory lanes in the years to come as well as up to the main entrance at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City as five-time champions." Financial terms was not disclosed, but estimates peg the sponsorship in the $20 million range per year. "DuPont and Hendrick Motorsports have formed a terrific team for more than a decade," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "Week after week, we're able to pair Jeff Gordon, one of the most dynamic talents in our sport, with DuPont, a respected and well-recognized brand throughout the world. It's a relationship we take a great deal of pride in and one we're extremely excited to continue." In addition to automotive finishes, a variety of DuPont brands, including Tyvek, Corian, and Suva refrigerants are advertised throughout the racing season on the #24 car. "We're proud to have Jeff Gordon represent DuPont," said Edward Donnelly, group vice president of DuPont Coatings & Color Technologies. "We believe he represents the future growth of NASCAR's fan base because he can communicate with a wide range of people, regardless of where they live or what they do for a living. With Jeff behind the wheel, supported by the marketing and technical powerhouse that is Hendrick Motorsports, our DuPont Motorsports program can't help but succeed."
DOVER, DE. (June 5)- - Philadephia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb paid a visit to the garage area at Dover International Speedway on Saturday. He was there to promote the Philadelphia-based Urban Youth Racing School, which provides racing opportunities for minority drivers from ages 8 to 18. McNabb's primary purpose was to pose with NASCAR star Jeff Gordon and two young racers for a racing school magazine cover. "I wouldn't actually get out there and drive," McNabb said to Gordon. "I'll let you handle that." Said Gordon: "I wouldn't get out there [on the football field] and let those guys chase me and try to hurt me." Gordon watched McNabb during his trip to the Super Bowl in Jacksonville earlier this year. Gordon regaled McNabb with a tale of Katie Holmes, the actress now dating Tom Cruise, who stopped by his yacht, 24 Karat, while it was docked in the marina in Jacksonville. McNabb gave Gordon a #5 Eagles jersey on which he wrote "You are the man." After reading the inscription, Gordon said "That's what I'm talking about." Gordon gave McNabb a pair of his red racing shoes for his charity auction. McNabb carried them out in a plastic grocery bag. "I don't want to walk out like I just stole your shoes," McNabb said.
Dover Wrecking Ball
SMYRNA, DE. (June 5)- - Jeff Gordon came to Dover International Speedway looking for a solid finish after two consecutive DNF's. He started fifth and ran in the top-five for the first 30 laps. He slipped back to sixth on a pit stop on lap 34. After the restart, Gordon was hit coming off turn two by Tony Stewart. The DuPont Chevrolet spun backwards and made hard contact with the outside wall. Gordon brought the car to the garage area where the damage was too severe to continue. The result was a 39th place finish and the fifth DNF of the 2005 season. "I wasn't that great on the restart and there was no doubt I was holding Tony up," Gordon said, "but I had more respect for him than that. He just flat out hit me. He was definitely faster and one more lap I was probably going to let him go. I just think it was uncalled for that early. I guarantee the next time Tony Stewart's in my way, it won't take but a half lap for him to be out of the way." The 39th place finish puts Gordon in a precarious position-- outside the top-ten in the points standings. "He expects more patience out of everybody else, not himself," Stewart said after the race. "I don't know what it is with him and Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman, but it's a group of them that think the roads are named after them. We can get into a car-crashing war. It doesn't matter to me. Jeff is always whining like that. I mean, if somebody does something to Jeff, it's always their fault, that's just Jeff Gordon." Gordon's current three consecutive finishes of 30th or worse are his worst three-race stretch of finishes since he placed 37th, 31st, and 31st at Pocono, Talladega, and Watkins Glen in the summer of 1993.
Where The Heart Is
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 1)- - The Jeff Gordon Foundation made a significant gift towards the new children's hospital currently under construction at NorthEast Medical Center in Concord, North Carolina. Jeff Gordon announced his foundation's gift towards the building of the facility, which will become the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital at NorthEast Medical Center. Hospital officials expect the new facility to be opened for patients in late 2006. "The racing community in this region has done so much for me and I wanted to do something in return,” said Gordon. "The NorthEast Medical Center is consistently rated in the Top 100 hospitals in the country and when I heard of their plans for a children's hospital, I wanted to lend my support to the project. The gift from The Jeff Gordon Foundation will help ensure the best medical care for the racing families in this community, especially their children." The children’s hospital will be part of two new floors currently being added to the Clinical Services building. The hospital will include 14 patient rooms, support spaces and an outpatient treatment clinic, in addition to the five-bed PICU and the Child Advocacy Center. Serving all of Cabarrus and a five-county area, the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital will offer a continuum of care for pediatric patients from birth to age 18.
Photo: Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital announcement
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