July News

Mountain Fog
PENNSYLVANIA 400 - Pocono Raceway. Finish: 27th

On an overcast afternoon in the Pocono Mountains, Chris Buescher's pit stop sequence allowed him to lead at just the right time late in the Pennsylvania 400 as fog rolled in. The race was called 22 laps from the scheduled finish, which gave Buescher his first career NASCAR Cup Series win. Jeff Gordon finished 27th after a late-race seat belt problem forced him to slow on the track and later come to pit road.

The rain-delayed Pennsylvania 400 took the green flag shortly after noon on Monday. Gordon started 24th and gained two spots in the opening laps to run 22nd on lap 10. The competition caution on lap 15 brought the field to pit road with Gordon restarting in 22nd place. The next caution came at lap 20 for Martin Truex's wall contact. Gordon moved forward after the restart with a move around Tony Stewart to run 19th on lap 24. He passed Casey Mears and Denny Hamlin to take 17th on lap 26. As the run progressed, Gordon battled tight handling and moved to 16th on lap 45. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 50. However, he was assessed a penalty for speeding on pit road and needed to do a pass-thru. He returned to the track in 27th place.

Gordon took spots from Clint Bowyer and Brian Scott to run 23rd on lap 65. The caution waved on lap 66 for Aric Almirola's crash on the frontstretch. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 19th place. He lost a spot on the restart, but recovered to take 17th on lap 77. A caution for rain slowed the field on lap 85 with Gordon in 16th place. He came to pit road for tires and restarted in 16th. However, he dropped to 20th within a lap of the restart as he struggled in traffic. Martin Truex's cut tire brought out the caution at lap 100. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 8th. The next caution came on lap 106 when Chase Elliott got loose in the tunnel turn and wrecked with Joey Logano. Gordon restarted 7th on lap 110 but pulled low on the fronstretch at a slower speed after he felt a loose seat belt. Gordon was able to slide the belt back in place -- while traveling in excess of 130 mph. He fell to 27th place and was the final car on the lead lap. He advanced to 23rd prior to coming to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 125.

With 28 laps to go, the caution waved as fog settled in turn 1 and the backstretch. Gordon came to pit road to check his seat belts and dropped to 27th place. The race was red flagged because of fog and was eventually called with Chris Buescher scoring his first NASCAR Cup Series win.

JG's comments:
ON SEAT BELT PROBLEM: "It's the first time I ever had that happen with this type of mechanism where you plug it in and it latches. I've had it happen on the old system with the old buckle. It was at Sonoma one time when I was leading the race and it came out in the next corner. But I was able to get that one latched. This one I thought I had it latched and lost some time. It would go in and latch, but weaving left to right it would pop right out. I knew I couldn't go down into Turn 1 on these crazy restarts without a right side seat belt. We came in under that stop. We worked on it and now it's good. It's unfortunate. The #88 Nationwide Chevrolet is pretty good. We just need track position. I had been having some decent restarts and things were going good. I hate that that happened."

Return Engagement At Indy
BRICKYARD 400 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Finish: 13th

Jeff Gordon returned to the track in the #88 Chevrolet in a relief role for Dale Earnhardt Jr. who is suffering from post-concussion issues. Eight months after concluding his full-time driving career, Gordon received a call from Rick Hendrick while he was on vacation about the situation to serve as the substitute driver in the #88 car. He would be working with a new crew chief in Greg Ives and a new spotter in TJ Majors. But, ultimately, this was still Jeff Gordon at a track that means so much to him and in a state we dearly love.

Gordon started 21st and moved to 20th by lap 3. The first caution came on lap 4 with Gordon restarting on the outside line. He moved to 19th after the restart by passing Chase Elliott. However, he slipped back to 20th on lap 15 when Paul Menard went by. Handling issues hindered Gordon and he dropped back to 21st on lap 22. He fell to 24th by lap 25 as green flag pit stops began. Gordon came to pit road on lap 27 and cycled through in 26th place. He moved up to 24th and was in danger of going a lap down on lap 50. However, Greg Biffle's wall contact brought out the caution and allowed Gordon to remain on the lead lap. Pit stops followed with the #88 making chassis adjustments.

Gordon restarted in 21st and dropped a spot on lap 60 to Austin Dillon. Ten laps later, he re-assumed 21st after passing Trevor Bayne. The handling soon came in and Gordon moved to 19th on lap 80. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 83. After short-pitting, combined with other drivers' pit road penalties, Gordon moved up to 12th place on lap 90. He steadily tracked down Kurt Busch and took 11th on lap 113. The next caution came on lap 121 for David Ragan's wall contact. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 12th on lap 126.

On the restart, Gordon slipped to 13th on the outside line in the short chute. A caution for Regan Smith's blown engine with 30 to go slowed the field. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 13th. Gordon struggled on the restart and dropped to 16th with 24 laps to go. A debris caution with 10 to go brought Gordon to pit road for fresh tires and minor repairs on the rear sheet metal. On the restart, Gordon dove low in the short chute to the grass to avoid a wreck that eliminated Carl Edwards, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman. He came to pit road to clear debris and restarted in 13th place with 2 to go. He dropped to 14th prior to a caution for Trevor Bayne's wreck on the backstretch. On the first green/white/checkered restart, Jamie McMurray's spun in turn 1 after cutting down on Tony Stewart. Under the caution, Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 17th place. He came across the finish line in 13th place. Following the race, Gordon joined Stewart for a ceremonial lap around the track. Gordon and Stewart combined for 7 NASCAR wins at the famed Indianapolis track.

JG's comments
"It was better than last year. It was a fight, wow. The challenge is to be out there against the best, especially on those restarts. I got my butt kicked on restarts today. It was embarrassing. While I was filling in for Dale Jr -- and I hope he's doing good -- I needed a fill-in on restarts. Other than that, I thought it went really well. I liked working with Greg Ives and the 88 team. It took us awhile to get the balance right with the track, and the adjustments came to us. He made an awesome pit call to come in early one time. And he called it right as I was going into turn 4. That made a lot of spots up for us. We had a fast race car. We just couldn't get the track position. It was pretty tough to pass. I'm going to need some practice on restarts for Pocono anyway. We finally on that last one got the car where it was decent on the outside. It was so loose on the outside before that, and we made up a bunch of spots off turn 4. On one hand I'm relieved this is over. On the other hand I would've liked it to have gone a little better. I'm looking forward to Pocono. Thank you to Tony Stewart. What a class act he is. It meant a lot to me that he invited me to come make that last lap with him.

ON FINAL LAP WITH TONY STEWART: "Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years. But he and I have become really good friends. I was with him when he got hurt earlier this year. To see what he's done, how tough he is as a competitor, I always know what a great guy and race car driver he is, but now I know more about who Tony Stewart really is. I'm just so proud that I was able to be here and race with him in his final race here. Maybe, I don't know. I thought last year was going to be my final race. So, you never know with Tony Stewart. But it meant a lot to me to stand up at the driver's meeting and recognize him and then do that pace lap at the end.

IS POCONO GOING TO BE YOUR FINAL RACE? "If it's this hot, I hope so. I can't wait to talk to Dale Jr and debrief on how today went, and see how he's doing. I want him in the car as soon as possible. I'm too old to be doing this stuff. But to come here and finish 13th -- decent -- I think I can do better next week for him, and then we'll just go from there."

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