June News

Bumps In The Road
QUAKER STATE 400 - Kentucky Speedway. Finish: 6th

Brad Keselowski dominated the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway by leading 199 of the 267 laps en route to his 12th career win. Keselowski started from the pole and took the lead for the final time from Kyle Busch with less than 20 laps remaining due to different pit strategies. Jeff Gordon finished 6th after a pit road issue and maintained the series points lead.

Gordon started 3rd and slipped back to 6th on lap 2 after he got loose underneath Denny Hamlin. He regrouped and took 5th from Kyle Larson on lap 16, and moved past Kevin Harvick to run 4th on lap 23. Gordon took 3rd when Denny Hamlin crashed on lap 29 to bring out the first caution. Gordon's crew changed two tires and the #24 car held the 3rd spot. He slipped to 4th on the restart on the inside line and held the spot until the next caution on lap 77 for Kyle Larson's crash. Gordon took 4 tires on the pit stop and restarted in 8th place. He moved to 7th when Matt Kenseth slowed for a cut tire. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 125. Gordon came to pit road for tires, but an air gun malfunction saw him restart back in 23rd place. He re-entered the top-20 on lap 134 and ran 17th on lap 142.

Gordon moved to 14th on lap 154 following a crash that took out Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola. Following a 4-tire stop, Gordon restarted in 18th place. He steadily gained positions and took 15th from Kasey Kahne with just under 100 laps to go. The next caution came with 91 laps to go when David Stremme spun in turn 4. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 8th place. He took 7th from Jimmie Johnson and then passed Kevin Harvick for 6th with 75 to go. Almriola's crash with 53 to go brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon's crew changed 4 tires and the driver restarted in 7th place. He dropped to 9th before rallying back to 8th with 30 to go. Gordon took 7th after Joey Logano dropped a cylinder with 21 to go. He passed Harvick for 6th with 2 laps to go, where he finished the event.

Gordon leads the NASCAR standings by 24 points over Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Turning point
An air gun malfunction during a pit stop on lap 126 saw Gordon fall from 7th to 23rd place. He battled for track position for the balance of the night after that.

JG's comments
"That was a strong, competitive effort. That's why we've been so good week in and week out. Really good cars and good team. When we get down, we fight back. I'm disappointed, I thought we were going to be better than that.... We did have the issues [on pit road] and got behind. The car was pretty decent at the end, but not enough to really move up. It was pretty tough to pass. I thought we made the most of what happened to us tonight."

Blue Comet
SAVE MART 350 - Sonoma Raceway. Finish: 2nd

Carl Edwards held off Jeff Gordon in the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway to claim his first career victory on a road course. Gordon gained 4 spots in the final 20 laps, but was unable to get around Edwards for the win. Gordon remains the NASCAR points leader with a 20 point gap on Jimmie Johnson. It was Gordon's third runner-up finish in the last 4 races at Sonoma.

Gordon started 15th and dropped to 17th by the end of lap 1. He regrouped and regained the 15th position on lap 4, and took 14th from Brad Keselowski one lap later. Gordon's forward march continued as he moved to 12th on lap 9 and took 11th from Brian Vickers on lap 12. He entered the top-10 on lap 15 with a move around Joey Logano. He fell out of the top-10 when Jimmie Johnson went by on lap 19, but moved back to 10th by passing Paul Menard on lap 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr took a spot from Gordon on lap 23 prior to the first round of green flag pit stops. The first caution waved on lap 31 for Landon Cassill's engine, which allowed Gordon to advance up to 6th for the restart because the top-5 hadn't pitted under green. He entered the top-5 with a pass on Kyle Larson on lap 37, and took 4th from Earnhardt Jr on lap 41. Gordon led 3 laps during a green flag pit stop sequence before he came in for tires and fuel on lap 58. A caution flag on lap 60 jumbled several strategies as race leader Kevin Harvick stayed on the track to attempt the race on just 2 pit stops.

Gordon restarted 14th and moved to 10th within a lap of the restart on lap 65. He took 7th from Marcos Ambrose on lap 67 and moved around Clint Bowyer for 6th one lap later. Gordon re-entered the top-5 on lap 68 with a pass on Greg Biffle, and took 4th from Brian Vickers on lap 69. Gordon passed Kevin Harvick for 3rd on lap 70 prior to a caution. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 8th on lap 74 due to 5 drivers pitting before the caution waved. On the restart he moved to 7th prior to a caution for Matt Kenseth's wreck into the tire barrier on lap 75. The field stayed under caution for 4 laps before restarting on lap 79. He moved up to 6th before a caution for Bowyer's spin which collected Harvick on lap 82. On the restart with 25 to go, Gordon took 4th from Johnson in turn 3, but dropped the spot at the end of the chute. With 20 to go, Johnson was held up trying to take a spot from Marcos Ambrose, which allowed Gordon to slip by in the esses to take 4th. A caution for Ricky Stenhouse's spin brought the field closer for the restart with 16 to go. He took 3rd from Ambrose with 13 to go and closed on Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray for the race lead. Gordon moved to 2nd with a pass on McMurray with 9 laps to go, but was unable to track down Edwards for the victory.

Turning point
Gordon was able to get around Johnson on a late race restart, which put him in position to challenge for the victory.

JG's comments
"Maybe five or six laps to go, I was making some ground up on (race winner) Carl (Edwards). I was good in the fast sections and he was pretty good in the slow sections. So, I was having to hit everything so perfect. And I just overdrove it into (Turn) 4 one time and went real wide off and that gave him enough of a gap that I had to close it back in and I just couldn't put enough pressure on him. And I think had I put some more pressure on him; I saw him really struggling with the grip level. He drove a clean race and he did everything you need to do. But of course, on that last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him, but I just drove into (Turn) 11 as hard as I could. We weren't good in 11 anyway. He didn't overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I'd get a run underneath him. But all in all, it was a great weekend. I couldn't have been more proud of the calls made and everything the team did. We didn't qualify good, but we had a great car in the race."

"Yeah, I'm starting to hear that a lot more where somebody was born when I won my first championship or was watching me as a kid. But I love racing here. I love being competitive and leading the points and having a shot at winning races, at 22 years into my Cup career. It doesn't matter; we're having fun."

DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A WAY AROUND CARL EDWARDS ON THAT LAST TURN? "On that move, you just want to make the guy overdrive the corner, because if you miss the bottom down there, there is a real opportunity for someone to get inside of you. Carl was driving a really good race, and the tires were definitely falling off bad. So were mine. At that point, I was just trying to keep the wheel spin to a minimum, and see if I could inch up on him every little bit. Those last couple of laps I really did. I made one mistake with about six (laps) to go where I overdrove maybe five to go where I overdrove (turn) four. I really think that was the difference. I think if I could have got to him, I probably would have had him. But, he was better in the slower sections; I was better in the faster sections. I would have liked to have a little bit closer shot at him going into (turn) 11 on that last lap. Can't thank Panasonic Toughbook enough. Great having them on board. What a great way to finish this weekend out with a second place finish. Congrats to Carl. He did a great job."

Compromising Track Positions
QUICKEN LOANS 400 - Michigan International Speedway. Finish: 6th

Jimmie Johnson claimed his 3rd win in the last 4 races with a victory at Michigan International Speedway. It was the 5th consecutive victory in NASCAR competition for Hendrick Motorsports. Jeff Gordon finished 6th and remains the NASCAR points leader by 15 over Johnson.

Gordon started 2nd and fell in line behind polesitter Kevin Harvick on the opening lap. The first caution waved on lap 2 for Brian Vickers spin which collected Travis Kvapil. After the restart on lap 6, Gordon again fell in single file behind Harvick before a caution for Kyle Larson spinning off turn 2. On the next restart, Gordon dropped to 3rd as Aric Almirola followed Harvick. Gordon moved back to 2nd by passing Almirola on lap 13. He took the race lead from Harvick on lap 19 and pulled out to a comfortable lead. The first round of green flag pit stops came on lap 43. Harvick passed Gordon for the race lead on lap 57. A debris caution on lap 73 slowed the field and brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon opted for two tires and restarted in 4th place. He took 3rd from Harvick on lap 85 and passed Joey Logano to take the runner-up spot on lap 101.

The next caution waved on lap 103 for David Ragan's spin. Gordon opted for four tires during the pit sequence and restarted in 13th place. He slipped to 14th prior to a caution for Alex Bowman's wall contact on lap 110. One lap after the next restart, Brett Moffitt spun to bring out a caution. The seventh caution came on lap 123 when Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola got together in turn 3. Gordon came to pit road for a 2-tire change and restarted in 15th place. He dropped to 19th shortly after the restart. A debris caution on lap 147 brought some of the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 5th place. He struggled on the inside line on the restart and dropped to 7th on lap 153.

Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 166. He opted for 2 tires and a track bar adjustment during the stop. He ran 7th when the field cycled through stops. Gordon took 6th from Dale Earnhardt Jr with 2 laps to go where he finished the race.

Turning point
After losing track position because of a 4-tire change at the halfway point, Gordon stayed out on lap 147 and got off sequence from most of the field. After a 2-tire stop on the final green flag stop, Gordon was able to post a solid top-10 finish.

JG's comments
"The car was exceptional. In my opinion, that [car] belongs in Victory Lane. We lost some track position and when we lost track position we knew it wasn't going to handle good. But we were just super loose even when we got clean air. So that probably hurt us more than anything. We just never could move forward. At the end, we came in and took 2 tires. And boom, the thing was gone and flying again. So, 6th not really indicative of the racecar or what I felt like we were capable of, but we'll certainly take it."

Restart Negation
POCONO 400 - Pocono Raceway. Finish: 8th

Dale Earnhardt Jr captured his second victory of 2014 with a late pass on Brad Keselowski in the Pocono 400. Keselowski dominated the event but his car ran hot after capturing debris on the front of the car. Earnhardt Jr made the winning move with 3 laps to go.

Jeff Gordon finished 8th after struggling on restarts for the balance of the race, which cost him valuable track position. Gordon started 5th and moved to the runner-up position after polesitter Denny Hamlin got loose going into turn 1. He ran about a second behind Brad Keselowski until a round of green flag pit stops on lap 28. The first caution waved on lap 31 for a small brush fire in the turn 3 infield. On the restart, Kevin Harvick dove below Gordon entering turn 1, which sent the #24 car back to 4th place. He took 3rd from Kurt Busch on lap 42 and closed on Harvick for 2nd place. Gordon led 1 lap during a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 58. The second caution came on lap 60 for debris. Gordon restarted 3rd, but slipped to 7th after losing momentum when Tony Stewart passed. Debris in turn 1 slowed the field for a caution on lap 71. Gordon stayed out and moved up to 6th for the restart. Hamlin took a spot from Gordon after the restart to send him back to 7th. Dave Blaney's spin brought a caution flag at the halfway point.

Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 95. Following stops, he ran 5th as he moved ahead of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin during the pit sequence. Gordon moved to 4th on lap 116 when Kevin Harvick made an unscheduled stop for a tire problem. The caution waved on lap 118 for oil in turn 1. Gordon came to pit road for 4 tires and restarted in 17th place after several drivers stayed out. He moved to 14th by lap 126 and assumed the race lead on lap 134 when the drivers ahead of him came in for their final green flag pit stops. He came to pit road on lap 135 and changed two tires to gain track position. A caution on lap 136 for Danica Patrick's wall contact slowed the field. Gordon restarted 7th with 19 to go. He slipped to 9th after Kyle Larson went by on the outside line. He re-took 8th just before a caution with 18 to go when Kasey Kahne wrecked.

On the restart with 12 to go, Gordon lost a spot after Joey Logano slowed on the outside line when the green flag waved. He took 8th from Martin Truex Jr with 2 laps to go, where he finished the event.

Turning point
Gordon struggled immediately after restarts and lost spots on several occasions during the event.

JG's comments
"We couldn't catch any breaks on the restarts. It was just chaos. But our car was really quick. I thought that was consistent all day long. When drivers got out of pit sequence, it got our track position off. Once we lost that track position, it's so hard to regain it. Ultimately, the restarts, even when I got a good one, something would happen or someone would almost wreck or dive in there 4-wide and cause a mess. We just couldn't come out on the good end of that side of it."

Breaking Bad
FEDEX 400 - Dover International Speedway. Finish: 15th

Jeff Gordon finished 15th in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway. For 350 laps, Gordon's #24 Chevrolet ran solidly in the top-5. He ran as high as 2nd during the event, but chassis problems in the final 150 laps hindered his efforts. Gordon dropped outside the top-10 with 30 laps to go and felt something was off on the chassis. He posted his 12th top-15 finish in 13 races this season, but dropped to 2nd in the series points standings.

Gordon started 6th and dropped a spot in the early laps, but regrouped to take back 6th from Brad Keselowski on lap 40. He took 5th from Kevin Harvick on lap 50, and took 4th from Denny Hamlin one lap later. Gordon took 3rd from Joey Logano just prior to the first caution on lap 65 for Alex Bowman's wall contact. Gordon came to pit road for a chassis adjustment and restarted in 8th place. Gordon quickly gained positions after the restart and ran 6th on lap 75. He re-entered the top-5 with a pass on Matt Kenseth on lap 117. Gordon moved up to 4th on lap 125 when Kyle Busch slammed the wall after contact from Clint Bowyer. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 5th place. The next caution on lap 135 involved Ricky Stenhouse and Greg Biffle's wreck on the backstretch, which brought a 10-minute red flag period. When racing resumed, Gordon took 4th from Paul Menard on lap 144. A caution for Jamie McMurray hitting track debris in turn 2 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon opted for two tires and restarted in 4th place. The red flag waved on lap 160 to repair the track in turn 2. After a 20-minute delay, the green flag waved on lap 166. Kevin Harvick's flat tire and subsequent pit stop moved Gordon up to 3rd place on lap 168. One lap later, Jimmie Johnson went by to send Gordon back to 4th.

Gordon took 3rd from Hamlin on lap 186 and passed Kenseth for the runner-up spot just before the halfway point. A caution on lap 221 for Alex Bowman's cut tire brought the field to pit road. Gordon held the 2nd spot through the round of pit stops. The next caution waved on lap 240 for JJ Yeley's blown engine. The leaders changed two tires with Gordon holding onto 2nd place. He slipped to 3rd shortly after the restart before regouping to pass Kenseth for the spot on lap 260. At the 300-lap mark, Gordon ran more than 2 seconds behind Johnson for the race lead. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 323 and cycled through in 3rd place behind Johnson and Brad Keselowski. Gordon battled handling after the stop and dropped to 4th with 63 to go as Tony Stewart went by. One lap later, Matt Kenseth sent him back to 5th place.

After searching for debris on the track, NASCAR manufactured a caution on lap 361 to set up a more dramatic finish. The leaders pitted with Gordon exiting in 6th place. He fell to 7th after the restart with 35 to go. Joey Logano and Martin Truex went by with 31 to go to send Gordon to 9th place. He battled handling and fell back to 12th with 30 to go. A caution for debris from Casey Mears' tire with 8 laps to go erased Johnson's lead. Drivers from 6th place on back came to pit road for tires. Gordon opted for four tires and restarted in 14th place. He fell to 15th when Carl Edwards passed and that's where he finished the event.

Turning point
In the final 150 laps, Gordon battled handling issues and told the team over the radio that something had gone away on the chassis.

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