July 2003 Random News

Charity Bowl
INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (July 31)- - The Second Annual Jeff Gordon Bowling Tournament benefiting the Riley Hospital for Children was held on July 31 at AMF Raceway Lanes in Indianapolis. For the second consecutive year, The Jeff Gordon Foundation presented a check in the amount of $100,000 to Indianapolis-based Riley Hospital for Children. NASCAR luminaries and professional bowlers, such as Parker Bohn III, helped make the tournament and charity auction an overwhelming success. "We had a lot of fun," Gordon said. "You don't have to know how to bowl to have a good time. We raised a lot of money for the Riley Hospital for Children. The Jeff Gordon Foundation is doing really well. I went to the Riley Hospital yesterday. It's one of the top children's hospitals in the world and I'm proud to be associated with them. We made a dent in it-- they need more help than that-- they've got a lot of great things on the drawing board. But we were glad to do a little something for them." The Jeff Gordon Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Marrow Foundation, and Riley Hospital for Children.

Cold Days In July
BLAKESLEE, PA. (July 27)- - After crashing on lap 125 of the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, Jeff Gordon exited the DuPont Chevrolet and looked at the damaged right front corner of the car. The car need to be towed to the garage area and a subpar day had turned into a disaster. He had restarted after a caution flag in 13th position just a lap earlier but checked up in turn three when the lapped car of Ken Schrader slowed in front of him. Dave Blaney, directly behind Gordon, tapped the rear of Gordon's Chevrolet sending him into a spin and an impact with the concrete wall. Gordon appeared to have a car capable of a top-ten finish, but was not on pace with the leaders. "We got to the outside lane behind Schrader. He slowed up, I slowed up, it was a chain reaction and (Blaney) got in the back of me. Kind of made a bad day go really bad. We weren't very good. We started the race and drove up through there. But once we got up there we just couldn't get the balance on the car. Same thing we've been struggling with all weekend." It was the first time Gordon left a wrecked car on the track since The Winston in 2001 when a rain-soaked track created havoc on the start. The DuPont team repaired the front of the car in the garage area and Gordon returned to the event 39 laps in arrears. He picked up one position to finish 36th and gained a total of three points by coming back onto the track. It was Gordon's third finish of 33rd or worse this season. "I'm fine," Gordon said of the impact with the wall. "It hit harder than I thought it was going to hit. I slowed it down a bunch with the throttle but it wasn't that bad of a hit." Whereas the hit he took in the series points standings was nothing short of a disaster. In the past two races, Gordon has lost 143 points to Kenseth.

font face="ARIAL" size=4>Two Out Of Three Aint Bad
BLAKESLEE, PA. (July 28)- - Ryan Newman held off a late challenge from Kurt Busch to win the Pennsylvania 500. It was Newman's series leading fourth victory of the season, and second victory in the last three races. The polesitter dominated the event, leading the most laps especially when it counted. In the closing stages, he altered his line to drive defensively with Busch gaining ground. "I had to use defensive measures to keep the air off his nose," Newman said of Busch's car. Busch closed in with two laps remaining in turn two, but couldn't mount a challenge to pull alongside Newman. "We could get a good run of him off turn one, we were equal through turn two and he picked up on us off turn three," said Busch, who finished in the top 10 for only the second time in the past nine races. Following Newman and Busch across the finish line were Dale Earnhardt Jr, Michael Waltrip, and Terry Labonte. Points leader Matt Kenseth finished 13th after a late pit stop for tires. He still holds a commanding 232 point advantage over Earnhardt Jr, and a 308 point lead over Jeff Gordon.

Keystone Support Group
BLAKESLEE, PA. (July 24)- - Jeff Gordon will look to get back into the Winston Cup title picture with a strong effort in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. Gordon has three career victories on the 2.5-mile track, though it's been five years since his most recent Pocono victory. In June he battled back from a cut tire on the second lap of the race to stay on the lead lap, but could only muster a 13th place finish while battling a tight handling car. Nevertheless, his career record at Pocono is impressive with 15 top-ten finishes in 21 career starts. The state of Pennsylvania has long been a special place for Gordon. While the fans in Northern California and Indianapolis might give him the most support when the DuPont team comes to town, the four-time Winston Cup champion has a strong affinity for his Pennsylvania fans. "The fans out here not only enjoy NASCAR Winston Cup racing, but you can find a lot of them at the local short tracks on a Saturday night," Gordon said. "Some of my most exciting racing memories are right here in Pennsylvania. The first year I raced Sprint cars (1985), I had a lot of fun racing Doug Wolfgang at Tri-City Speedway. We also had a lot of fun racing at places like Selinsgrove and Silver Springs Speedway in the late 1980's. Then when I started racing stock cars in the Busch Series, we'd race at Nazareth. Now, of course, we come here a couple times a year to Pocono where we've had a lot of success. No matter which series I've raced in, the fans have always been nothing but supportive. They're some of the greatest race fans in the world." Less than 20 years after waiting all day at the Brickyard to get an autograph from Rick Mears, Gordon now finds himself as the driver others want to emulate. "When I first started racing, I tried to learn as much as I could from guys like Steve Kinser and Rick Mears," Gordon said. "To see young people using me as an example now only makes my position as a role model more important. It's hard to explain how good it makes you feel when you see people wearing shirts in support of your team. Seeing that makes what you're doing that much more important because you're not only doing it for your team but for your fans. Having fans like we have in Pennsylvania really gives us the confidence and motivation to step up our performance. We are so thankful to have fans that will stick with us no matter what." Gordon's main competition on Sunday might come from within his own raceshop. Fresh off a victory at Loudon, Jimmie Johnson looks for his third win of the season at Pocono. So, is Gordon pleased with the sudden success of the second-year team? "I think he's probably happy because he has his own money invested into me and this team," Johnson said. "If it's not him winning, I think he would want it to be the #48 car or another Hendrick Motorsports team. He's very happy to see us running so well."

Fighting Illini
JOLIET, IL. (July 13)- - Battling the remnants of a flu-like condition, Jeff Gordon focused on the task at hand and finished fourth in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. "It helps when you have a good race car," Gordon said after the event. "It makes your day a little bit better. I kept myself hydrated and actually felt really good. I'm still kind of hacking and coughing but other than that I feel great." He led for the first time in his career at the Joliet track, but remains winless in three career races there. It is just one of four Winston Cup tracks where he has not visited victory lane. "I was horrible on new tires all day," Gordon said. "That's something we really have to work on. I was just so loose on new tires. We put right sides on and thought it would tighten me up a little bit, but it didn't and I lost positions. I almost lost the car-- the car got real loose on me. We knew there were only twelve cars on the lead lap so we came in, got four tires, and it worked in our favor. A couple other guys on the next caution came in, we gained some spots, and our car was better than the guys that were in front of us." After Dale Earnhardt Jr and Bobby Labonte were involved in wrecks, Gordon was able to put some distance between himself and his nearest pursuers for the runner-up spot in the points standings. "We capitalized on some guys having some bad days," Gordon said. "Top fives are what it's all about. We're going to keep trying to do that each and every weekend."

Newman's Day In Chicago
JOLIET, IL. (July 12)- - For the second consecutive week, fuel mileage was the determining factor in deciding the winner in NASCAR's premier series. Ryan Newman made his final pit stop with 69 laps remaining while the other front runners were forced to make an additional pit stop for fuel in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Kevin Harvick pitted on the same lap as Newman and was running second but ran out of fuel with three laps remaining. Polesitter Tony Stewart battled back from losing track position during a round of pit stops to finish a distant second. Jimmie Johnson was third followed by Jeff Gordon in fourth. It was Newman's third win of the season and fourth of his career.
Gordon started on the outside of the front row but dropped back to sixth on the start after getting caught on the high line. He worked his way up to fourth by the time the first round of green flag pit stops came on lap 62. A 17-second pit stop pushed him back to eighth on the track. Gordon gained a spot on pit road under caution on lap 82 and passed Rusty Wallace for sixth on lap 88. After a caution for Larry Foyt's crash, Gordon passed Casey Mears to move into the top-five on lap 97. On lap 106, Johnny Sauter cut a tire to bring out a caution. Gordon took fuel only on pit road to gain track position on those who pitted. He made a daring move on lap 118 to move up to fourth on the backstretch. He passed Robby Gordon coming off turn two and immediately manuevered up high to get around the lapped car of Jimmy Spencer. The caution waved again for Kurt Busch's blown engine on lap 132. Gordon stayed out on the track and inherited the lead. He led the race until he made a green flag pit stop on lap 174. The next caution came out on lap 208 when Dale Earnhardt Jr spun in turn two and backed into the wall. Earnhardt Jr was credited with a 38th place finish and dropped to third in the points standings. On the restart, Gordon lost several positions battling a loose handling car just as Johnny Benson and Casey Mears tangled on the backstretch. Benson fought for control and hit Bobby Labonte who spun backwards in the wall. The Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was engulfed in flames before its driver made a hasty exit. Under the caution flag, Gordon came onto pit road for four tires. He restarted with 45 laps remaining in 9th place and moved up to 7th after Casey Mears wrecked with 34 laps to go and brought select cars onto pit road. Gordon passed Jeff Burton with 19 to go, and got around Michael Waltrip three laps later to move into the top-five. When Harvick ran out of fuel with three laps remaining, Gordon took fourth place and finished in that position.

Pit Crew Shuffleboard
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 5)- - Rear tire changer David Smith left the DuPont team after the Sonoma race to become the car chief for Elliott Sadler. Smith, who departed Matt Kenseth's team for HMS following the 2002 season, joins his third raceteam in less than seven months. He'll be replaced by Adam Davis on Jeff Gordon's pit crew. Davis was formerly a tire changer for Joe Nemechek's Winston Cup team. Davis, 24, came to Hendrick Motorsports after spending last season with Petty Enterprises. He was a tire changer on Kyle Petty's car in 2002. Prior to entering the NASCAR world, Davis attended High Point University in North Carolina on a soccer scholarship. He holds a degree in sports medicine. In addition to his pit crew duties, Davis will continue his role as a mechanic for HMS.

Biffle Takes Daytona
PORT ORANGE, FLA. (July 5)- - Greg Biffle had the gas mileage figured perfectly. He was able to pit with 41 laps remaining and went on to win his first career race in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2002 Busch series champion held off Bobby Labonte for the race lead until Labonte ran out of fuel on the last lap and coasted to a fifth place finish. Biffle's victory rekindled memories of another driver named Greg who posted his first career win at NASCAR's most famous track. It was July 1985 when an unheralded journeyman driver named Greg Sacks, in an unsponsored Gardner Racing R&D Chevrolet, blistered the field to record his first and only career win. Though Biffle competes for the venerable Roush Racing organization, his first career win on one of racing's biggest stages is no doubt a surprise. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Michael Waltrip, the pre-race favorites who won 8 of the last 11 restrictor plate races, both needed a late race stop for fuel and finished 7th and 12th respectively.
Jeff Gordon ran in the top-10 for most of the night. He got shuffled back in traffic several times, though he did manage to lead a lap during a series of pit stops. A harrowing moment came on lap 75 when Kurt Busch spun in turn two. Robby Gordon, running directly behind Busch, got collected in the melee. Jeff Gordon dove low with Jimmie Johnson on the inside to narrowly miss the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet as it spun back up the track. After a slow green flag pit stop on lap 125, Gordon dropped back to 16th. He worked his way up to 10th but needed a final stop for fuel with 20 laps remaining. As the laps wound down, he battled with Jimmie Johnson and Todd Bodine for position and came across the line in 14th place. "A decent night, it wasn't great," Gordon said. "I made a mistake early in the race. I let Elliott Sadler get to the inside of me and that was costly because I fell back quite a bit. I had a good handling car. I think we took speed out of it to try to get the handling and that hurt us, and of course fuel mileage. I looked up on that board a couple of times and said, 'Are those guys going to be able to make it on fuel?' Robbie (Loomis) didn't want to tell me that but they came back later and told me. We were fighting back there for position. We had taken two tires so I was just slipping and sliding trying to get all I could." It seems as if Gordon has a knack for making his way through major incidents on track. At Daytona, he was running in the middle of the track when trouble started up in front of him. "I made it through that wreck-- I don't know how. So I have to count myself pretty fortunate to come home 14th. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I saw (Busch) start to spin on the inside. Then I saw him start to come up the track. At that time I was on the brakes going to the inside. I had Jimmie on the inside of me and both of us just barely squeezed by. I thought my fender just touched that car so I'm counting my blessing on that one. You can't see anything in (the wreck). I knew I needed to get to the bottom of the race track. Then it got really smokey and I couldn't see anything. At the last second I turned left because I just thought it was right in front of me."

Promotion Machine
NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 3)- - Jeff Gordon appeared on NBC's morning program, the Today Show on Wednesday to promote the DuPont Get Real Behind the Wheel teen driver safety tour. Aimed at newly licensed young drivers, the Get Real traveling exhibit will make more than 20 stops in 11 cities through October, appearing at concerts, festivals, NASCAR races and other venues that attract young people. This weekend it will appear at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The program's centerpiece is the 45-foot Get Real trailer, which houses a specially-designed simulator in which teens can take two-minute test drives to assess their skills in hazardous driving conditions. In addition to the trailer, the traveling exhibit features displays of DuPont products involved in auto safety. Of course, Gordon's appearance also served to promote NBC's NASCAR coverage which begins with Saturday night's race. His #24 Pepsi Chevrolet was on display outside the NBC studios during the show.

Staying Cool
NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 1)- - Cool˛Go, a new insulated beverage wrap made by DuPont, will be featured on the rear TV-panel of Jeff Gordon's Pepsi Chevrolet in Saturday night's race at Daytona International Speedway. On a hot day it takes only 10 to 15 minutes for a beverage to warm in the sun. The Cool˛Go wrap keeps drinks cold up to twice as long and it makes them more comfortable to hold. The Cool˛Go wrap is made by laminating DuPont Thermolite Active thin insulation between layers of Melinex polyester films from DuPont Teijin Films. The wraps then are printed with DuPont Cyrel flexographic printing plates before being shipped to the customer. Cool˛Go wraps can be used on plastic, glass and metal containers. Turkey Hill Dairy, of eastern Pennsylvania, is testing Cool˛Go wraps on its line of 20-8ounce iced teas and lemonade. Visitors to the 21st annual Rockwood Ice Cream Festival near Wilmington, Delaware on July 12 and 13 will be able to enjoy the cool drinks while sampling Turkey Hill ice cream.

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