July 2010 News

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July 26 - - In the days preceding the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon proclaimed that his team had "something up our sleeves for Indy." As it turned out, there were no magic tricks or anything up their sleeves.

Gordon started 8th and it took just a half lap for the first caution to wave. Sam Hornish spun on the backstretch and the chain reaction collected Reed Sorensen, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler and David Reutimann. On the restart on lap 8, Gordon dropped two spots and ran in 10th. He moved to 9th on lap 10 when Ryan Newman pitted for a cut tire. The second caution waved on lap 14 for Max Papis' engine problem and Robby Gordon's cut tire. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon exiting in 7th place. He struggled on the restart and fell to 9th by lap 25. He slipped out of the top-10 on lap 35 when Jeff Burton went by. Gordon came to pit road on lap 49 for a green flag pit stop. Following the stops Gordon ran in 13th place. A debris caution on lap 66 brought the lead lap cars to pit road with Gordon exiting in 12th spot.

Gordon ran in 11th behind Jeff Burton for several laps before a green flag pit stop on lap 98. With 50 laps to go, Gordon ran distantly behind the leaders in 14th place. A debris caution with 44 laps to go resulted in pit stops with Gordon departing in 12th. With 35 to go, Gordon began dropping positions as a right rear tire cut down. He made an unscheduled pit stop and went a lap down. A debris caution with 23 to go resulted in Gordon staying out for the wave around onto the lead lap. He ran in 27th place before a caution with 16 to go when Juan Pablo Montoya, after dominating the day, hit the wall coming off turn four. Montoya collected Dale Earnhardt Jr in the melee. Gordon came to pit road to fix a broken splitter brace. Gordon restarted 24th with 11 laps to go - and finished in 23rd position. It was his worst finish at the Brickyard since he finished 33rd in 2000. He remained second in the series points standings.

JG post-race comments

"We really struggled today with the DuPont Chevrolet. Track position is so important here. We see that all the time. We've had a good car at times but just not good enough one to drive up through there. We're just kind of doing our best and all of a sudden I felt a big vibration. I thought I had a loose wheel but then they said the splitter was vibrating and then I don't know; it must have broken off and cut the right-side tires. I just went along for a ride. I got pretty lucky actually with it. We didn't tear the car up down there in Turn 1. And we fixed it the best we could and just brought it home."

"There's a huge difference from what we used to have. I mean this tire lasts, no problem. The tire issue we had was purely because we ran over something. I give Goodyear a lot of credit from that sense. But we're really struggling trying to pass out there and my car didn't feel any better on lap 1 than it did on lap 15 so I think there are some things they can do to improve it even if they can keep the wear good. Right now, I think that with this surface here at Indy and our cars and as much as we use up right side tires, I think this is probably the best of both worlds."

"We just didn't have it. We looked pretty good in qualifying but I thought in practice we were going to be better, but I don't know about my teammates and whether they ever got out in front in clean air. I thought Jimmie (Johnson) did one time and couldn't maintain it. I know he struggled and so did we. As a group, we'll go back and review everything and try to see what we're missing and we'll pay attention to the competition. This is a unique place. We all want to win here. But to be honest with you, towards the championship, this race other than giving a team momentum, there's not a whole lot that correlates to the other tracks that we go to. So we tried some (but) it didn't work and we feel pretty confident in what we have going forward."

"I can't put myself into their position; I don't know exactly what went on. I just know from our standpoint we were just never good. There just didn't seem like there was ever a point on the track where we were really good. A couple of times I thought we were good off of Turn 2; but that's about it. I struggled in every one of the corners. I saw guys that could move up there further like the NO. 99 (Carl Edwards) and the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) and so there is obviously a way that we can do better."

"Similar. This is one of the toughest places that there is and as far as being in traffic, it's just really, really tough to pass. And then that was the case again today."

"I think I ran over a piece of my splitter. What I don't know is what broke the splitter. There was a bunch of action going on down the back straightaway and we were three-wide and I don't know if I just ran over something; I'm not really sure. We're going to go back and find out. But I'm pretty sure that when that splitter broke, I ran over it and it cut the right rear (tire), but the right front (tire) was going on as well. I got lucky we didn't hurt the car any worse. We were just salvaging what we could out of the day. To be honest with you, (finishing) 23rd for what we went through today, wasn't that bad."

Gordon Joins Pertussis Campaign
July 13 - - Jeff Gordon and his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, are working with the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur to raise awareness about pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, as part of the Sounds of Pertussis national education campaign. The campaign encourages parents to help protect themselves and their babies by getting vaccinated with an adult pertussis booster vaccine, and to make sure that anyone who will be in close contact with their baby, has also been vaccinated against pertussis. "Even though Ingrid and I have a 3-year-old daughter, we had no idea when Ella was born that we needed a pertussis booster, and that without it, we were putting her at risk," Gordon said. "Now, with a new baby on the way, we're not taking any chances we're getting vaccinated. I've already rolled up my sleeve, and Ingrid will get her immunization shortly after our son is born."

Drought Watch
July 11 - - Jeff Gordon came to Chicagoland Speedway with his focus on a different track. Ordinarily, that would be a problem. However, Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte brought a new car to Chicago in the hopes of using the car at Kansas Speedway during the Chase for the Championship. Based on Gordon's 3rd place finish at Chicago, the car may have earned a return engagement later this year.

Unfortunately for Gordon it's been 48 races since his last NASCAR victory -- the longest winless drought of his Cup series career. Gordon started his 600th consecutive race from the 6th spot, but slipped to 9th after the first round of pit stops. He steadily worked through race traffic and back up to 5th before a round of green flag pit stops on lap 100. Although Gordon complained about the handling, he moved around Martin Truex Jr to take 4th on lap 120. A debris caution on lap 130 slowed the field and brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon gained a spot on pit road and departed in 3rd place. He took the runner-up position from Jimmie Johnson after the restart on lap 137, just before Johnson spun coming off turn two to bring out the caution.

On lap 165, Gordon took the lead from Jamie McMurray with a strong move coming off turn four. Gordon pulled away until a caution on lap 179 when Bill Elliott spun in turn three. Robby Gordon hit Elliott's prone car in the middle of the corner, resulting in a prolonged delay for track clean-up. Gordon held the top spot through the round of caution flag pit stops. David Reutimann challenged Gordon for the lead starting at lap 203, and made the pass for position on lap 212. With 35 laps to go, Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop. The crew made an air pressure adjustment trying to loosen the car up coming off the corners. When the stops cycled through, Gordon ran distantly behind Reutimann. On lap 241, Gordon slipped to 3rd when Carl Edwards passed. Although Gordon posted his fifth consecutive top-5 finish, he remained 50 Chase points behind Johnson and Denny Hamlin. The last time Gordon posted five straight top-5's was March-May 2007.

Freight Train
July 4 - - After dodging several close calls during the 400-mile event at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Gordon found himself at the front of the field with 3 laps to go. However, a Richard Childress Racing freight train led by Kevin Harvick passed Gordon in the closing stages. Gordon rallied to finish 3rd and post his fourth consecutive top-5 finish

Gordon started 5th and worked his way up to 3rd on lap 9. A bump draft by Greg Biffle pushed Gordon alongside Kevin Harvick for the race lead on lap 11. Within three laps he fell to 13th after getting shuffled out of the draft. Gordon ran 14th when the competition caution slowed the field on lap 15. Gordon opted for four tires and restarted in 17th place. He was unable to make headway and dropped to 19th in the draft on lap 30. Gordon worked his way back into the top-10 on lap 46 as the handling seemed best on longer runs. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 58. Gordon was on pit road when the caution waved for debris from J.J. Yeley's cut tire. Based on his spot on the track, Gordon was 2nd at the time of the caution. On the restart, Gordon got a push from Brad Keselowski on the outside line to take the lead. Two laps later A.J. Allmendinger spun off turn four and made contact with the inside wall.

On the restart, Keselowski jumped in front of Gordon to take the race lead. Two laps later, Gordon received a drafting push from Denny Hamlin to re-take the lead. Shortly thereafter, Juan Pablo Montoya pulled to the inside to take the lead. Gordon was shuffled back to 4th in the high line behind Hamlin. Gordon slipped to 14th on lap 80 after taking the inside line. By lap 86, he dropped to 19th battling a loose handling condition. At lap 100, Gordon moved back up to 13th but was distantly behind the lead drafting pack. He came in for a green flag pit stop at lap 101 and changed four tires. On lap 103, the caution for Kyle Busch's wall contact trapped Gordon a lap down. However, Gordon stayed on the track during the round of pit stops and received the wave around to get back on the lead lap. Gordon restarted in 5th with 50 laps to go. With 47 to go, Gordon moved to the high line and took the lead with drafting help from Jeff Burton. Two laps later Burton took the lead from Gordon who fell to 5th.

With 43 to go, David Ragan, Jamie McMurray, and Martin Truex made heavy contact in turn four to bring out the caution. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 8th place. He was running 7th when the caution waved with 25 laps to go for David Stremme's wreck. Gordon came to the pits for tires and restarted in 5th place. With 11 laps to go, Gordon masterfully made his way through an 18-car melee in turn 3 which began when Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton made contact. A 20-minte red flag delay for track clean-up followed. Gordon came to pit road for four tires and restarted in 6th place. Gordon moved to 3rd behind Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick in a drafting line. With 4 to go, Gordon passed Harvick to take 2nd place behind Bowyer. He then dove low on the track to the take the lead with 3 to go. However, with 2 to go, Harvick gave Bowyer a drafting push down the backstretch to pass Gordon. He slipped back to 4th before a wreck involving Sam Hornish slowed the field just before the leaders took the white flag. On the green/white/checker restart, Gordon lined up behind Bowyer. Gordon gave Bowyer a push and then looked to the outside. Bowyer made contact with Gordon on the backstretch which broke his momentum. Gordon then lined up behind Kahne and tried to pass his future Hendrick Motorsports teammate ahead of Harvick. At the finish, Harvick held off Kahne and Gordon to take the victory.

With the 3rd place finish, Gordon moved up to 2nd in the points standings -- though he trails by 50 Chase points to Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. It was Gordon's best finish at Daytona since winning in February 2005.

JG post-race comments

"I'm just happy to survive one of these restrictor plate races. It's been a while since we've done that. We had a pretty good night, car drove good, especially on the long runs, and we avoided the big ones and got ourselves in a good position to win the race. Got out in front, and I felt like I had a pretty good handle I liked being up front while those two guys were lined up; we were good. But once they split down, one and two, they kind of faded, and I didn't know I thought they were passing one another, and instead they lined back up and I was just a sitting duck. At that point it was just about the restart, and got a good restart, was pushing Clint, and I don't know what happened. It just seemed like he was riding the brakes, and we weren't going anywhere. So I went to pass him, and that kind of just messed up our momentum to really have a shot at winning, so we're pretty happy to finish third."

Q. Could describe your last two laps there.
"I was pushing the 33. I mean, we got a great start, and I gave him a big shove, and I think maybe he was afraid that he got too big of a shove or something and it seemed like he let off the gas or got on the brakes. I hit him again, and you know, again, until I talk to Clint and try to find out what happened but these cars got a lot of drag in them with the spoilers, so maybe it was just the car was just dragging down that much when I was trying to push him. But I felt like that last time I was coming up on him too fast and I needed to go. So I went to the outside of him. I think when I went to the outside of him, the 29 and the 9 pretty much cruised right on by, and then it was just trying to get the momentum back down the back straightaway. The 31 pretty much got by me, but I was able to get to his quarterpanel and get right back by him and finish third."

Q. How relieved do you feel to get out of here with a top three?
"We've been in so many of those wrecks here recently on restrictor plates that our good stats that we've always had on the restrictor plates have been going down fast. So this was a nice way to rebound. Yeah, the 18 and 42 got together right in front of me. I just avoided that one. The other one, I don't even know how I avoided it, the one where Burton was a pinball and they were all wrecking. I just dove to the apron and just did a big slide. I don't know how we didn't have more damage. But we were one of the few cars that made it through there. And then the rest of them were in my mirror, like Kasey was saying."

Q. You move into second place in points. What does this do with the time, the races ticking down right before the Chase?
"I'm second? Really? I don't believe it... I mean, I'm excited that we're second in points, but I'll be honest with you, all I look at is where we are with wins right now. When you're positioned well in the Chase, like we are currently, then it comes down to wins and being seeded for when that Chase comes around. I think these top fives that we've had here recently build momentum to get us an opportunity to get us those wins. So that's really more what's on our mind right now. It's about what we've got to do to win a championship. I feel like we've got to get a few wins before that Chase starts. But it certainly helps when you're further up in the points because it gives you that opportunity to take more chances and try more things to make sure that you either get those bonus points or that you're the car to beat when the Chase comes around."

Q. You've been a part of a lot of wild races, but where does this one rank in terms of restrictor plate craziness?
"I'm starting to get used to the fact that every race we go to is basically bumper cars at 190 miles an hour. My favorite part of the race to be honest was the first half when we were spread out, and while it might not be as exciting for the fans, it's awesome as a driver to be out there knowing you're making a difference in how you drive the car, the team is making a difference how they set up the car. The pit stops under green, to me that was just a blast out there racing in those long runs, managing tires, all that stuff. That's what I love about the older surface. But when it comes down to the end, you pretty much know that it's not going to end like that, that you're going to have cautions and double file restarts, and it's just hold on tight. For me, honestly, tonight, other than after I made Clint Bowyer mad, which what's new, I'm making a lot of guys mad these days, but he ran into the back of me so hard down the back straightaway because I know he's mad at me, plus I know he's trying to get us going. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful green white checkered compared to some others I've seen. I'm sure that's not quite the case for guys that were behind me."

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