June 2009 News

Progress In Summer School
June 29 - - Although Jeff Gordon didn't come away with a victory in the rain-shortened Lenox 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a strong 2nd place effort showed that Gordon had made significant improvement on the flat tracks. Since New Hampshire is the first race in the 'chase for the championship,' the strong effort in June should pay dividends in mid-September.

Gordon started on the outside of the front row and immediately jumped into the lead. However, he lost the top spot to Kurt Busch on lap 7. A caution for Patrick Carpentier's brush with the wall slowed the field on lap 15. Gordon, and most of the top-10, elected to stay on the track. On the restart, he powered ahead of Busch on the outside line to take the lead. Jamie McMurray's wreck on lap 22 slowed the field. Gordon chose the inside line for the restart and jumped to the outside to hold onto the lead heading into the first turn. Once again, the green flag run was short-lived as A.J. Allmendinger's spin brought the caution out on lap 28. On the next restart, Busch jumped to the lead on the outside line. A competition caution on lap 45 brought the field to pit road. Gordon departed pit road with the lead. He chose the outside line for the restart, and subsequently lost the lead to Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon settled in behind Johnson until green flag pit stops on lap 124. Gordon trailed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by about one second on the track. A debris caution on lap 155 brought the field to pit road. Gordon opted for two tires and exited pit road with the lead. Gordon took the outside line on the restart and held onto the lead. The caution waved on lap 172 after Paul Menard hit the wall. Gordon once again chose the outside line for the restart. Gordon got a jump on the restart, which allowed him to stay in front of the day's major incident. Martin Truex was turned sideways by Kyle Busch on the fronstretch while coming up to speed. Truex spun toward the outside wall and collected Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, David Ragan, and Brian Vickers. The race was red-flagged for track clean-up.

Gordon got the jump on the restart on lap 180, but the field only ran three laps before a caution for Joey Logano's cut tire. Gordon raced to the lead on the restart and battled side-by-side with Tony Stewart for a few laps before Scott Speed's spin brought out the caution flag on lap 190. On the restart, Stewart battled alongside Gordon and took the lead on the backstretch. Gordon ran 2nd to Stewart before green flag pit stops on lap 235. Gordon beat Stewart off pit road and was in position to take the race lead once the stops cycled through the field. However, with rain showers on the horizon, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano stayed on the track in an effort to win a rain-shortened race. Gordon's fresh tires cut Newman's 15 second lead in half with 40 laps to go. Newman came to pit road with 38 laps to go after running out of fuel. Joey Logano inherited the lead as steady rain began falling, thus necessitating a caution flag. Gordon held off Busch for the runner-up position just before the caution flag. The race was red flagged with 27 laps to go. The victory was Logano's first in the Cup series.

"I felt like we had the best car," Gordon said. "The guys got us out first on our last pit stop, but it just got us out ahead of the guys we were racing with." He congratulated Logano and said Zipadelli made "a gutsy call" leaving the youngster on track. "I was trying to get him to use as much fuel on the caution laps as I could," Gordon said, grinning. "I thought for sure he was going to run out of gas."

Post-Race Comments:
It was a great run. I was so proud of the team, I didn't feel like we were that good yesterday, and just some great calls that Steve made on the setup, a great call today. We were not very good on the restarts. So we had to fight real hard or give up two spots, but man, our car was so strong after we got ten laps on the tires. And you know, there at the end, we were running second and we just had an awesome pit stop, got stopped first, well not first on the track but ahead of the guys who were racing. I was wondering why the guys were racing me really hard. I thought they were lap cars and we were actually racing for position and that cost me some time and Kurt started catching us. I saw the rain coming and I pushed it the first lap or so and it started getting pretty slick and started backing off and Kurt really gained on me and then Steve told me was actually the leader, at that moment my heart sunk that we didn't have a shot at winning it and I was hoping we would run out of gas if it wane. I was pushing real hard to keep the engine going around the caution laps but once it started raining hard it was over.

Q: Jeff, talking about trying to get him to run out of gas, it looked there y'all were giving us kind of some of the best yellow flag racing we have seen in a while. Could you sort of describe in detail, there was one time you went under him and he come down and cut you off, and were you trying to keep him from getting to the bottom to shake it and feed his pick up, or can you kind of tell us what you were doing in detail.
JEFF GORDON: No, he was shutting the engine off and not keeping up with the pace car. I was just running pace car speed and it allowed me to get to the outside of him and make him start his engine and use some fuel and he didn't like that. So he moved up, so I couldn't get to the outside so I just went to the inside. I didn't want to push him, and I didn't want to back off, because that was our only shot was for him to run out of fuel. You know, he did exactly what he needed to do. I was just running the pace car speed, so it looked like I was maybe trying to pass him, but he was just shutting the engine off.

Q: One time, though, he just cut hard down in front of you when you were under him; did y'all come close to bumping on that?
JEFF GORDON: No. I think we just came up on some jet dryers or track cleaners. It was nothing.

Q: The reason he had enough fuel was because he brought out the ninth caution and pitted. How whacky is it that a spin actually put him in position to do this, and also, I think they added one lap to this race two years ago, and they haven't finished one yet. Maybe they should take off a lap?
JEFF GORDON: I don't know about that. But you know, you win them anyway that you possibly can. I've won because we made a great call and stayed out and it rained. You know, I was telling Lee earlier that when they spun, when they had to come down pit road, as much as that put him behind, it also gave him that opportunity and you've got to be smart enough as a crew chief to be able to fill it up with fuel, put four tires on it, and play the only strategy that you have at that point, which is, you know, to stay out, and if you're watching the radar and you see that rain is coming, you just basically they had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it's a lot easier to make that call when you're in that position, and it was a gutsy call. But at the same time, it was I think sort of a no brainer for him. You know, the only thing that wasn't going to work out was if they ran out under caution because they were going to lose a lot more positions than they would have if they could have come in and topped off.

Q: Seems like this is the first race where double file restarts really had a big role on the action. Can you talk about how that changed the complexion of the race, and Jeff, at one point you took umbrage with Kurt on some moves, does it change the way you race at this track?
JEFF GORDON: This place is really tough on restarts anyway. I was here with Goodyear when we did a tire test and they softened the tire up a little about. I thought it was a little bit better, but I feel like we could go turn further and a lot of it was more falloff at the end of a run, as well as getting up to speed a little bit and having a little bit more grip on the restarts. With that said, my car, I felt like I was on ice out there. I took the outside lane. I could get a good start, but you know, it's funny that Kurt was saying he wasn't very good on the restarts, because I felt like he's a lot better than I was. I couldn't even run in the bottom lane and he could get down there but he couldn't quite clear me and the one time I don't know if he just slipped or what, but pushed me pretty wide, and it almost got a little ugly. At that point, you know that whoever gets out front seems to have a huge advantage, and that's why I was fighting as hard as I was on the inside, and while he was fighting as hard as he was on the inside.

Q: Do you come away from this race muttering about what might have been because of the way Joey wins, and that's ten bonus points that are off the table now, or do you just say, hey, we got second and third and that's as good as we go and you move on to the next week?
JEFF GORDON: I'm disappointed we didn't get the ten bonus points because we had a great shot at it with a great run but it is a bit of a wash, because at least nobody else that we are racing right now in the championship or in the Top 12 or 14 got them, either. So, yeah, it's like nobody got ten bonus points kind of. I think I was more disappointed in that one than I was this year. I don't remember where we finished but it wasn't very good. I've got such a bad memory to recall those races that I've run here, but it seems like the ones here recently have been pretty strange.

Q: How good was your car at the end?
JEFF GORDON: My car was really good there at the end. We came up on some slower cars. It seemed like it took me a little bit longer to get through them. I was trying to be careful. The honest thing is I didn't realize I was racing those guys for position, and I wasn't sure who was a lap down and who was on who was stretching fuel, what was going on. But I thought it was interesting that some guys that we were racing were racing really hard. And it took, you know, a little bit out of my car to push that hard behind somebody, because when you get up behind somebody, you lose the nose and it makes the car kind of tires go away a little bit. Once I got by him, I felt like I could pull Kurt, but then it started raining, and you know, it got to where it was raining pretty hard down in 3 and 4 and I started checking up and being probably a little bit too cautious, and he was being real aggressive.

Q: You leaned in Joey's car and said it doesn't matter how you win. Does that take you back to your rookie times? Is it something maybe Dale said to you or some other driver when you got your first win?
JEFF GORDON: No. It's just that, you know, when you go back to the stats and you look at the wins, there's no asterisk next to rain shortened. It's, you got a win. I've won a bunch of races in this series and I've been very fortunate to do it at times by having the best car, the best pit stops. You know, sometimes I can say that I out drove the guys. But there's plenty of those wins that came because of a two tire stop, gas and go, rain shortened, a lot of different ways. I'll take them any way I can get them, that's for sure. So I just poked my head in there and congratulated him. He didn't want me to jinx him because he didn't think it was over yet but it was pouring down rain, and I was pretty sure it was over. I said, "Great job and great call."

Kahne Is Able
June 21 - - Kasey Kahne held off Tony Stewart on a series of late race restarts to win his first career road course race in the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Jeff Gordon's prospects were hindered by a pit road speeding penalty that put him back in 32nd place. He rallied back with a strong effort in the final 20 laps as he gained 15 spots during the closing stages. A green/white/checkered flag finish allowed Gordon to move up from 13th to 9th at the checkered flag.

Worker's Compensation
June 15 - - It wasn't a victory for Jeff Gordon at Michigan Speedway, but after starting last to begin the day, he posted a solid top-5 finish. The overall lack of caution flags -- there were only three in the race -- forced the team to make adjustments on the fly.

Gordon started at the rear of the field due to an engine change on Friday. He gained three spots on the opening lap, and moved up to 32nd on lap 5. He picked off two more spots on lap 6, and another pair on lap 8 to run in the 28th position. His upward climb continued as he moved to 22nd on lap 16. Gordon entered the top-20 on lap 19 and moved up three more spots by lap 26. He moved up to 15th on lap 40 before a round of green flag pit stops. When the stops cycled through, Gordon ran in the 16th position.

A debris caution on lap 73 brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted in 18th and gained four spots by lap 86. At the halfway point he ran in 13th, but was distantly behind race leader Jimmie Johnson. Gordon moved into the top-10 with a pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 110. A cycle of green flag pit stops ensued with Gordon holding onto the 10th spot. The second caution for debris came on lap 121. Gordon stayed on the track and moved to 8th on the restart. He took 6th from Tony Stewart on lap 133 as he closed in on the top-5. A caution for David Stremme's crash on lap 152 slowed the field and set up pit stops. Gordon departed in the 5th position knowing that he would make it if the race went green until the finish.

He restarted in 5th on the inside line and immediately fell to 6th. He took the 5th position from Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 163. Gordon battled Denny Hamlin for position in the closing stages and took 4th place with 7 laps to go. At the front of the field, Johnson passed Greg Biffle for the lead with 5 laps to go, but ran out of fuel on the final lap. Gordon moved up to 3rd when he went around Johnson and then took 2nd when Biffle ran out of fuel on the backstrech. However, Gordon was several seconds behind race winner Mark Marin. The runner-up finish was Gordon's best effort since his victory at Texas in early-April.

Post-race comments

"I think we saved a little too much, actually. We were running a slower pace than those guys up front being in traffic as well, I felt like I saved a pretty good amount under that caution. And the guys on this DuPont/National Guard car obviously packed it full of fuel because I drove all the way around there. I ran pretty hard the whole time and we pretty much knew that Mark (Martin) would have pushed when we got to him. So I was happy to get by Denny (Hamlin) and come home second. I hate to see those guys run out (of fuel) but that's just the way some of these races turn out. We played it the best we could. Congratulations to Mark Martin. It's hard to beat him and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) right now. Those guys are tough. They're smart and fast and we're having a lot of fun out there though."

"I'm really excited about this team. I want to say hi to all the NCO's (non-commissioned officers) out there. It's the 'Year of the NCO' and we're happy to have them on board. What a great effort by this team. We just fought hard. After we had the engine problem on Friday and got a good pit stall. That #2 pit stall. The pit crew was incredible and the car was great. We had to work our way up through traffic and the car was there to do it so once we got up there in the top-15 or so we had to make some adjustments. We never really could get it as good as the first two or three guys but we were a top-five car so I'm really proud of that. The fuel mileage certainly played out in our favor and we came home second."

Live Once Again
June 10 - - Jeff Gordon appeared on 'Live with Regis and Kelly' on Tuesday, June 9 to discuss the Be The Match national marrow donor registry.
Video: 'Live' interview

Indy Test
June 8 - - Four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon is among the 12 drivers scheduled for a Goodyear tire test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 15-16 in preparation for July's race.

The Last Drop
June 8 - - With Jeff Gordon struggling with handling issues during the second half of the Pocono 500, crew chief Steve Letarte elected to play the fuel strategy game. As it turned out, it nearly resulted in a victory. Gordon started on the outside of the front row and rocketed to the lead before the field entered the first turn. The caution waved on lap 2 after Denny Hamlin stopped on the track. Gordon chose the outside line for the restart and once again beat his teammate into turn one. On lap 6, Johnson passed Gordon coming off turn one. Two laps later, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman took positions and sent Gordon back to 4th.

Gordon struggled with handling as he was unable to get in the throttle coming off the corners. He dropped to 5th after Greg Biffle passed on lap 9. Gordon fell to 7th before the caution waved on lap 14. Pit stops ensued with Gordon departing in 13th place after a series of adjustments. The chassis changes seemed to pay immediate dividends as Gordon moved into the top-10 within one lap of the restart. By lap 20, he was up to 7th position. Gordon's progress continued after passing Jeff Burton to take 6th on lap 23. However, he was unable to gain ground on the top-5 and remained in the 6th spot until a round of green flag pit stops on lap 45. Gordon moved up to 5th following the cycle of pit stops. He remained 5th through the next cycle of green flag stops on lap 75.

A debris caution on lap 103 during a cycle of pit stops brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon entered in 3rd place and held the position coming off of pit road. He restarted in 5th due to Carl Edwards and Jeff Burton pitting before the caution flag. However, he was hindered by the inside line and dropped to 9th within a lap of the restart. The caution waved on lap 113 after David Stremme hit the wall. Most of the leaders-- including Gordon-- elected to stay on the track. He fell from 8th to 12th on lap 118 after getting loose in turn three. On lap 121, he dropped another two positions. Kurt Busch passed on lap 122 to put Gordon back to 15th place. The handling problems continued as Gordon fell to 23rd on lap 127. He came to pit road a few laps early under green for chassis adjustments on lap 135. After the cycle of stops, he was up to 20th on lap 140.

With 50 laps to go, Gordon was in 18th and seemed to be making headway on getting a handle on the chassis issues -- but time was running out in the race. A caution flag on lap 156 brought the field to pit road, but Gordon remained on the track with light rain falling. Crew chief Steve Letarte, who played the rain game and won in 2007, realized that staying on the track and hoping for a sudden shower was Gordon's only chance at a victory. When the sun shined through, he was forced to give up the lead. Gordon restarted at the end of the line, but the silver lining was that he'd be able to make it to the finish without stopping for fuel if the race stayed green.

Gordon moved to 18th with 34 laps to go. Three laps later, he moved to 15th with a pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr. With 30 to go, he took 13th from Kyle Busch. With 15 laps to go, the leaders began pitting, which allowed Gordon to gain positions. He entered the top-10 on lap 186 while in fuel conservation mode with the throttle. On lap 190, Gordon was up to 6th as more leaders came to pit road for fuel. He finished in 4th after two drivers -- including Jimmie Johnson -- ran out of fuel on the final lap. At the front of the field, Tony Stewart scored his first victory as a car owner. It was the first victory for an owner/driver since Ricky Rudd scored a win in 1998, though Stewart's car is technically owned by Margaret Haas, the wife of Stewart/Haas co-owner Gene Haas.

Post-Race Comments

"We've seen it happen at a lot of races. This is a tough place to save so I am really impressed with those guys that finished ahead of us. I am really proud of Steve Letarte and this whole DuPont crew for what they did to get me out there in that position and be able to go all the way. You have to get the finishes any way you can. We never gave up. We were pretty good for a long time. That double-file restart there, boy I will tell you what, it killed us so we have got to work on that a little bit. Just aero-wise, my car was good in a single-file line and when we were in clean air. But whew, it was a handful there in all that dirty air. We got shuffled back there and it kind of worked to our favor. Tried to win it with the rain that didn't work so fourth place, I am pretty excited about that."

"It started out good. The car felt good. I don't know why this set of tires but during the double-file restarts the aerodynamics were totally different and I was just out of control and lost a bunch of spots. Wasn't too thrilled about that. It made our day tough. It wasn't just the double-file restarts, we've got to figure out what we need here at Pocono for that. A great call in the pits by Steve (Letarte, crew chief) to try to stay out there and win it there if it rains and then it actually worked to our favor to play that out because we came in late and fueled up and made it all the way to the end and finished fourth. Pretty amazing day for the DuPont Chevrolet."

"I don't know. I wouldn't necessarily say that the last couple of times I've been here. I feel like I've never been here before. It's hard to believe we've won four races here in the past because if you get off just the tiniest bit you feel like you're no longer at Pocono. You're not sure where you are at. As many laps and miles I have around this place you're always learning, you're always trying to figure it out. I felt like we got closer but we need to certainly get better. I'm really happy for Tony (Stewart). That's a great victory for him. A great job shutting the engine off during the green to make it all the way."

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