Working The Pits
FONTANA, CA. (August 31)- - One of the major reasons for Jeff Gordon's resurgence in the points standings has been the performance of his pit crew. The DuPont crew claimed its second win of the season in the weekly pit crew competition, helping boost Gordon to a 5th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. "The DuPont crew did an amazing job on Saturday night," said crew chief Steve Letarte. "They've been phenomenal all year, and I'm glad they are starting to get the recognition they deserve." Gordon's over-the-wall team edged out other participating crews by spending the least amount of time on pit road during the Sharpie 500. Gordon spent 313.006 seconds on pit lane. Gordon's over-the-wall crew consists of: jackman Jeff Cook, front tire carrier Mike Houston, front tire changer Clay Robinson, rear tire carrier Jeff Knight, rear tire changer Kevin Gilman, and gasman Caleb Hurd.
Five For Fighting
BRISTOL, TN. (August 27)- - Jeff Gordon headed into the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with the big picture in mind. A win would be great, but solidifying his standing in the points was the primary concern. Gordon started 13th and patiently worked through race traffic. He battled a loose handling car and made his way up to 6th by lap 60. He gained two spots on pit road to move up to 4th, but later dropped the spot to eventual winner Matt Kenseth. On lap 114, Gordon came onto pit road in 5th and left in 2nd place. He worked his way around drivers who stayed on the track during the caution flag and eventually passed Jeff Burton for the lead on lap 181. Gordon held the top spot until lap 219. He was held up by Mark Martin which allowed Burton, Kenseth, and Kurt Busch to pass. After the halfway point, Gordon battled a tight handling condition for the balance of the race. He ran in 4th for most of the second half of the race. In the closing stages he tried to fight off a challenge from Scott Riggs, who passed Gordon with two laps remaining. Gordon fought off Denny Hamlin on the final lap to post a 5th place finish-- his first top-5 at Bristol in four years. The finish propelled Gordon up to 5th in the series standings. "We had a great car at times, but we just lost the handling at the end," Gordon said. "We got way too tight and I'm probably more frustrated we weren't able to keep up with those front guys more than anything else."
Thinking About Tomorrow
BROOKLYN, MI. (August 22)- - Jeff Gordon stuck around Michigan Speedway to test the 'Car of Tomorrow' on August 21. NASCAR will gradually phase the car in during the 2007 season, with plans to use the redeveloped body and chassis at 26 events in 2008 and the full schedule in 2009. The car features two obvious changes on its body-– a rear wing instead of a traditional spoiler and a splitter just under the front air dam that catches air. "It doesn't drive bad," Gordon said. "This is my first time with the car and I think this is the first time it's been on a track this big, as far as an unrestricted track. By itself, the car drives pretty good." However, race traffic might be a different story. "You're going to get in behind another car and you’re going to push, and it's going to draft good," Gordon said. "The thing should suck up really good down the straightaways, but we'll see. My car is a little bit too tight right now because it's the first time for us. We're being conservative and creeping up a little bit, but we probably need a little more time. We're going to make some adjustments and hopefully, we got it where it needs to be."
Rebounding In Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI. (August 20)- - Jeff Gordon bounced back from two consecutive unsatisfying finishes with a solid runner-up effort in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan Speedway. Gordon came from 10th with 35 laps to go to challenge Matt Kenseth for the victory in the closing stages, but was unable to close in on Kenseth's rear bumper. Nevertheless, the finish moved Gordon up to 6th in the series standings as he looks to solidfy his standing in the top-10. Gordon started 12th and dropped back to 21st after pitting on lap 12. He stayed out under caution on lap 22 to move up to 2nd place. He remained there until he took the lead from Carl Edwards on a restart on lap 48. Edwards re-took the lead 10 laps later, and Gordon dropped to 3rd on lap 71. Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 94 and eventually took the top spot after the pit stop cycle finished. He came onto pit road under caution on lap 119, but 11 cars stayed on the track. He ran between 9th and 12th for the next 40 laps. However, J.J. Yeley's crash with 41 laps to go brought the field onto pit road for the final time. Gordon took four tires and restarted in 12th place. He moved to 8th with 31 laps to go, and began his march toward the front. He took 5th from Mark Martin with 27 laps remaining, and passed Tony Stewart for 3rd on lap 177. Gordon was running the fastest laps of anyone on the track in the late stages but probably needed another 4 laps to catch Kenseth. "We made some great adjustments on that last pit stop," Gordon said. "We were up there battling but were out of sync. Unfortunately the caution came at the wrong time which has happened to us a lot lately, but what a rebound by this race team. I wish we had a few more laps-- I was catching Matt and I would have liked to shown him and everybody else that I know how to pass him clean. But this second place finish is a good points day for us."
Tale Of Two Races
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 14)- - Jeff Gordon's day at the Watkins Glen road course was truly a tale of two races. For the first 55 laps, Gordon ran in the lead pack behind Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, and Robby Gordon. He led a lap during a pit stop sequence and seemed poised for a top-5 finish. However, the final 35 laps would be a different story. A four-tire pit stop under caution on lap 55 dropped him to 20th. He moved up to 18th, but spun out on a restart after a tap from Mark Martin with 24 laps to go. Gordon dropped back to 34th before picking off slower cars. He passed Martin cleanly with 17 laps to go to take 25th, and moved up to 20th after Casey Mears stalled on the track with 12 laps to go. He went into the final lap in 18th place, but gained positions as drivers took chances and finished 13th. "We were all just dicing it up there and I got underneath somebody and everybody drove in there real deep and Mark came over and apologized to me and said he just got in there too deep," Gordon said. "I got in too deep too and I had to check up just a little bit myself. It's hard to be mad at a guy like Mark Martin." We wanted to make up some good ground (in points). We got fortunate we didn't lose much ground with everything that happened there in the last couple of laps. We were a top five car. We weren't a winning car today. I'm not sure to be more upset about - that we just weren't good enough to battle with the good guys like Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. But we were going to be a top five. But you never know when the cautions are going to fall and how the pit strategy is going to work out. If we hadn't have gotten spun there, we were going to be up there in fifth or sixth I believe, and that would have been a great day for us. So, we salvaged what we could."
Uphill Climb At Indy
SPEEDWAY, IN. (August 7)- - Jeff Gordon's hopes for a record-tying fifth career victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were altered shortly after the start of the Brickyard 400. After starting 16th, Gordon was running 13th on lap 8 when the sway bar bolt broke on the front of the car. Gordon came onto pit road and lost a lap changing tires. Under the caution flag, he lost two more laps while repairs were made. He got one of the laps back after Boris Said's crash on lap 20, but didn't get another one back until lap 56. He raced one lap down until a caution on lap 86 put him back on the lead lap. From there, Gordon's day began with 70 laps to go in the race. He restarted in 40th and went to work on race traffic. A long green flag run allowed Gordon to move up to 30th by lap 106, and 22nd on lap 124 before a round of green flag pit stops. A caution for debris with 19 laps to go brought Gordon to pit road for a four-tire change. He restarted in 27th place with 15 laps to go, and made his way up to 18th at the finish by dodging a series of final lap wrecks. Gordon moved from 9th to 8th in the series standings. The early race problems forced Gordon to run a different race and he was unable to truly contend for the victory. "When you get three laps down at this place, it's hard to come back," Gordon said. "We were just fortunate to get back on the lead lap. That was one of the hardest 16ths we've ever had. But we can't afford to have those kinds of problems." At the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr who gambled by staying on the track during the last caution flag. Johnson, with fresh tires after pitting with 19 laps to go, took the top spot on lap 150 and pulled away for his fourth victory of the season and first career win at the Brickyard.
For The Right Reasons
INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (August 5)- - The fifth annual Jeff Gordon Foundation Bowling Tournament was held in Indianapolis on August 3. Gordon and a host of celebrity drivers took to the lanes to raise money for the Jeff Gordon Foundation to benefit the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Gordon presented a check for $200,000 to the children's hospital at the event. Among the notables in attendance were Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, and Sam Hornish Jr. Joining the group was professional bowler Danny Wiseman. "We had a lot of fun for everybody that came out," Gordon said. "I just can't thank them enough for making such a successful event for Riley Hospital for Children here in Indiana and Indianapolis. It was our fifth annual event, we had a great time; and thanks to a lot of drivers that came out and helped to make it very successful."
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