July 2009 News

Johnson Storms The Brickyard
July 27 - - Jimmie Johnson hung around long enough and was in the right spot at the right time to claim the win. That's been a similar refrain over the last four years in the NASCAR world. Johnson scored back-to-back victories in the Brickyard 400 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a late pass on Mark Martin. The victory was his third win at the Brickyard, and 43rd of his career.

Jeff Gordon battled through race traffic but was unable to make significant headway due to several long green flag runs. Gordon started 22nd and dropped a few spots in the opening laps. He hooked up in a draft behind Kevin Harvick and moved up to 21st on lap 8. He cracked the top-20 on lap 11 and settled into the 20th position. Gordon moved up to the 15th spot following green flag pit stops on lap 37. A caution for Kyle Busch's cut tire and subsequent contact with the wall on lap 57 brought the field to pit road. Gordon exited the pits in 13th place, having benefited from a stall opening in front of him due to Joe Nemechek dropping out of the race in the opening laps.

Gordon used the inside line to his advantage on the restart and moved into 11th position on lap 65. He entered the top-10 on lap 67 and ran in 10th until the next round of pit stops on lap 91. Gordon moved to 8th with a pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 100. However, he gave the spot back to Earnhardt Jr. during the final round of green flag pit stops with 35 laps to go. He trailed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate for just two laps as the engine expired on the #88 Chevrolet on lap 128. Gordon restarted in 8th position with 26 laps to go.

As Gordon faded on the restart, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson took the lead from Martin with a power move on the outside entering turn one. Gordon fell to 10th before passing Matt Kenseth with 22 laps to go to re-assume the 9th spot.

Bowling For The Cause
July 24 - - The Jeff Gordon Foundation hosted the 8th Annual 'Gordon Celebrity Bowl' in Indianapolis on July 23, benefiting Riley Hospital for Children. Every dollar raised at this year's bowling tournament will be invested in the critical, lifesaving pediatric research being conducted at Riley in partnership with Indiana University. Team members bowled three games, and had their team photo taken with Gordon.

Those Hollywood Nights
July 16 - - Jeff Gordon attended the taping of the annual ESPN awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on July 15. The ESPY Awards have become an annual staple similar to awards shows for movies and music. Gordon joined actress Olivia Wilde to present the 'Best Moment' award to the U.S. swim team. To nobody's surprise, Jimmie Johnson was awarded the Driver of the Year award. Gordon is a four-time ESPY Award winner for Driver of the Year (1996, 1998, 1999, 2007). The ESPYs were televised on ESPN on July 19.

Late Night Turnaround
July 12 - - Jeff Gordon posted a runner-up finish at Chicagoland Speedway after battling handling problems for the balance of the 400-mile race. He came onto pit road for tires and gave up the 8th position in the closing stages. The fresh tires allowed him to make several daring moves -- including a pass on the track apron -- to gain positions. However, he spun the tires on the final restart with 3 laps to go and finished behind Mark Martin, who won his fourth race of the season.

Gordon battled a tight handling condition at the outset and struggled getting off the corners virtually the entire race. He fell out of the top-10, but rallied back through pit stops to crack the top-10 with 50 laps to go. Gordon moved up to 8th with 25 laps to go and closed in on Kurt Busch for a position before the final caution with 21 laps remaining. Gordon was the first car to come onto pit road. Contact between Busch and Jimmie Johnson forced Gordon onto the track apron with 15 laps to go where he got around both drivers to take 4th place. With 13 to go, he dove low on the backstretch to take 3rd from Kasey Kahne. Three laps later, he took the runner-up spot from Denny Hamlin.

A caution for Kyle Busch's spin brought out the caution with 6 laps to go. Gordon restarted on the inside of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin with 2 laps to go. Martin took off on the restart and Gordon slipped behind Kahne. He grouped to take 2nd from Kahne on the final lap, but was distantly behind Martin at the finish. Martin and Gordon allowed a fan to collect $1 million from the race's title sponsor for the 1-2 finish, since the pair finished 1-2 in the Michigan race sponsored by the same company in June.

Southern Crossed
July 5 - - Jeff Gordon led the first lap of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. That's the good news. The bad news is that was the only lap he led, and the only time he was in contention. Hung out on lap 2 by aggressive moves on the part of Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, Gordon was shuffled quickly to the back of the main pack. He was able to move back up to 8th position in the first quarter of the race, but a loose race car caused him to drift back to the mid-twenties, and on lap 77, he was caught up in a seven-car wreck that started many places ahead of him. The car was badly damaged on the right front, but heroic efforts by the Dupont crew kept him on the lead lap, even though the car was damaged and he had intermittent radio problems. A caution at lap 103 allowed the team to repair the splitter and correct handling issues and he restarted 26th, still on the lead lap. Gordon chose to hold his wounded car at the rear of the pack, saying "we've got a better chance to drive through the big one than to be in it." Another caution at lap 152 allowed Gordon to pick up a few more spots, but a bad restart left Gordon last on the lead lap. Kyle Busch's violent wreck on the final lap left Tony Stewart in Victory Lane and Gordon 28th, last car on the lead lap.

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