LOUDON, N.H. (June 30) - - Rain was a negative factor throughout Jeff Gordon's racing weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. An early qualifying draw before the rains came on Friday hurt his starting position. A late day storm on Sunday gave him an 11th place finish which wasn't indicative of his performance throughout the Lenox Tools 301. Gordon started 19th and worked his way up to 12th by lap 50. He moved into the top-10 on lap 80, and entered the top-5 on lap 124. His car looked strong as he passed Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick, and Casey Mears over the next 15 laps to take the runner-up spot. However, he trailed Tony Stewart on restarts. A caution on lap 205 brought Gordon to pit road to change tires for the final time. He battled Jimmie Johnson door-to-door with Johnson pushing Gordon slightly up the track to take the position. One lap later, Denny Hamlin passed and Gordon was back in 4th place. A caution on lap 270 brought Gordon to pit road for fuel only. He restarted in 11th after 8 drivers stayed on the track having pitted during a caution on lap 219. Four laps later, Clint Bowyer's spin brought the caution. The rains began falling shortly after that and the race was called after 284 laps with Kurt Busch at the front of the field.
Too Little, Too Late
SONOMA, CA. (June 23) - - Jeff Gordon's third place finish in the Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway road course was a microcosm of his 2008 season. Gordon struggled with the handling on the DuPont Chevrolet throughout the first half of the race. He dropped from his 5th starting position back to 10th by lap 23. After a pit stop on lap 29, Gordon restarted in 21st place. Gordon was unable to drive into the winding corners and it showed in his lack of performance as he was mired in 22nd on lap 43. However, a ray of hope shined upon him when he came in for a pit stop on lap 69. One lap later, Robby Gordon stopped on the track bringing out the caution flag. After most of the lead lap cars pitted, Gordon restarted in 11th place. He steadily gained positions as the laps wound down during the long green flag run. Gordon moved from 7th to 3rd with 3 laps to go after he avoided Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick's spinning cars in the short chute. However, on the final restart, he was unable to catch Kyle Busch in front or David Gilliland in the runner-up position. Busch dominated the event by leading 75 of the 110 laps en route to his fifth victory of the season. For Gordon it was a solid points day as he moved up to sixth in the standings after overcoming adversity in the first half of the event. "Steve Letarte made some great adjustments and made a great call to come on pit road just as the caution was coming out and that gave us a bunch of spots," Gordon said. "Then we got the car pretty good and drove up through there, but we just didn't have anything for those guys up front."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 16) - - Jeff Gordon and representatives from DuPont recently announced a partnership with customers to make an an initial donation of more than 30 innovative products and services worth nearly $750,000 to help rebuild homes and businesses in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas. The donation also includes funding for two Habitat for Humanity homes. Gordon was on hand for the announcement in Kansas on June 12. Greensburg was leveled by one of the largest tornados in U.S. history in 2007. Very few structures remained in the aftermath of the deadly tornado and more than 1,500 people, who were displaced, are waiting to return to their homes.
Downward Spiral For Gordon
BROOKLYN, MI. (June 16) - - Jeff Gordon struggled with the handling on his car during the LifeLock 400 at Nena Speedway and finished a distant 18th. After a streak of four straight top-10 finishes, Gordon has finished 14th and 18th in the last two weeks and fell to 9th in the points standings. He started 8th at Michigan and moved up to 6th on lap 2. That was the highest he'd get all day. Gordon fell to 9th by lap 20 and ran the first half of the race in the lower half of the top-10. A strategy error hurt him after the halfway point when he stayed on the track during a caution period. He fell from 8th to 21st in a 25-lap span. He rallied briefly and moved up to 16th, but Gordon was penalized for speeding on pit road on lap 151. The driver's mistake put him back to 24th on the restart. He moved up to 18th at the finish of an uncompetitive day where Dale Earnhardt Jr claimed his first victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
Track Position Chess
BLAKESLEE, PA. (June 8) - - Jeff Gordon might have come away with a 14th place finish in the Pocono 500, but it was hardly a day where he finished where he ran for the balance of the day. The DuPont team played the track position and fuel mileage game, but needed a spirited driving effort from Gordon to salvage the finish. Gordon started 38th and worked his way up to 15th by lap 40. A two-tire pit stop thrust him to 8th. However, older tires eventually pushed him back to 11th on lap 55. Gordon pitted again for tires just before a brief red flag period for rain on lap 68. He ran between 24th and 29th over the next 50 laps before staying out under caution on lap 122. He restarted in 2nd place -- his high water mark for the day -- and quickly fell like a rock down to 14th within two laps. The team then focused on fuel mileage as they made a green flag pit stop on lap 165. Had the race finished caution-free, Gordon would likely have scored a top-5 finish. But Kyle Busch's spin on the backstretch on lap 178 threw fuel strategy out the window. Gordon pitted for tires and restarted 29th. He made his way through traffic with some daring moves in the closing stages, but ran out of laps before he could advance higher than 14th.
ROSSBURG, OH. (June 5) - - For the second time in as many years, Jeff Gordon joined several of his NASCAR peers to race a late model car at Eldora Speedway. June 4 was his second appearance in the 'Prelude To The Dream' event organized by Tony Stewart. The goal was to raise $1,000,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Kansas City. Gordon hoped to follow-up last year's 3rd place effort, but he damaged the right front corner of his car coming off the corner in a "B" heat race and needed extensive repairs. He returned for the feature event but was unable to make progress toward the front of the field and finished 14th -- one position behind 80-year-old Red Farmer. At the front of the field, Stewart, the evening's host, claimed the victory. "A lot of short-rack racers think we're just big-time drivers that never had to cut our teeth and work our way up," Gordon said. "To get back to that shows what kind of competitors we are, having fun knowing we're not getting paid millions of dollars to do it. The event is for charity and the fans are fired up to see these drivers that they see on TV all the time come out sliding sideways."
Distantly In Fifth
DOVER, DE. (June 1) - - Jeff Gordon finished a distant fifth in the Best Buy 400 at Dover International Speedway, thus giving him reasons for optimism as well as concern. Gordon started 7th at Dover and was ahead of the day's major wreck triggered by Elliott Sadler blindly coming down the track and getting spun out on lap 18. Sadler collected Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kevin Harvick among eight drivers involved. As the day progressed, incidents were minimal and Gordon battled handling issues. He ran in the lower half of the top-10 for the balance of the first half of the race as his car was tight through the corners. After the halfway point, his car seemed to respond on the longer runs as he moved to 5th. He briefly took the lead during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 318. At the finish, he was nearly a full lap behind race winner Kyle Busch. In addition to Busch, the Roush Racing cars of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth finished well ahead of Gordon. While the finish is another step in the right direction, there's still more work to be done before he can compete for the series championship.
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