Gambling With House Money
BRISTOL, TN. (August 26) – - A 19th place finish in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was hardly the comeback Jeff Gordon had hoped for after two disappointing races at Watkins Glen and Michigan. While his position in the 'chase for the championship' is secured, the consistent effort that was a hallmark of Gordon's season has eluded his race team in the past few weeks as they've gambled for victories and came up short. Gordon started 18th and steadily worked through race traffic. He entered the top-10 on lap 28, and the top-5 on lap 55. He swapped 3rd place with Dale Earnhardt Jr before taking the runner-up spot from Bobby Labonte on lap 137. However, he was unable to run down race leader Kasey Kahne. A mid-race caution brought the field to pit road and the crew made chassis adjustments hoping to catch Kahne. The adjustments hindered Gordon's progress and he fell to 6th on lap 260. He was running 9th on lap 366 when he came in for a green flag pit stop. The caution flag waved a few laps later, thereby trapping Gordon one lap down. He regained the lost lap with 120 laps to go and restarted in 18th. Gordon was swept up in a chain reaction crash involving Ricky Rudd and Jimmie Johnson. Repairs on pit road to the rear of the car followed. As the laps wound down, Gordon was unable to make forward progress and finished 19th.
Swamps Of Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI. (August 21) – - Jeff Gordon finished 27th after a late race spin in the 3M 400 at Michigan Speedway. While Gordon was fading back with a loose handling car, he was nudged in the rear by Matt Kenseth coming off turn four with 10 laps to go. Gordon spun onto the wet infield grass and needed a push from a team of five safety workers to get back on the track. He wound up losing a lap and effectively ended his chances at a strong finish. Gordon started on the pole and led the opening laps under a yellow flag start. He lost the lead under the green flag on lap 11, but regained it by changing two tires during pit stops on lap 25. He battled a tight handling condition and faded to 6th by lap 40. He was running 9th when he came in for a green flag pit stop to adjust the handling. A caution flag on lap 90 allowed Gordon to make up some positions on pit road as he departed in 6th. The DuPont Chevrolet came to life around the mid-stages as Gordon passed Jimmie Johnson for 3rd on lap 104. Ten laps later he took 2nd place from Kenseth but trailed eventual winner Kurt Busch by a few seconds. Busch extended his lead over Gordon before pit stops on lap 166. Gordon pitted to fix a spoiler problem and was on pit road for an additional 5 seconds. He dropped to 7th and then gambled by staying out on the track during a caution period with 25 laps to go. On the restart, Busch pulled away and Gordon faded with a loose handling car before the contact with Kenseth. "We started off way tight and we loosened the car up man that it seemed like the track loosened up and we drove it to the front," Gordon said. "I was having a lot of fun and then at the end we just stayed out and I thought the car would tighten up and I was just so loose. It's my fault what happened with Matt Kenseth. He went to the outside and I was loose. I was sliding up the track and I saw in my mirror he was there. I was trying to get out of his way and he just had too momentum so that may have just saved us. I don't know, we might have had a tire going down, I'm not sure what was going on. Matt was probably a little impatient with me right there because he got underneath me and I was just trying to see if my car would tighten up. I was hoping that it would so he got underneath me and I ran hard with him on the outside in the closing laps and then I drove into that turn that time and he went to the outside and I was just loose and so I knew I was giving up the spot but the way it turned out it looked a lot worse than it was."
Driver Error Haunts Gordon
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13) – - Jeff Gordon seemed on his way to his 10th career road course win when he overdrove his car into turn one with two laps to go and spun out of the lead. The 9th place finish was Gordon's first top-10 on the Watkins Glen road course since 2001, but that was hardly consolation for what he deemed a "stupid" mistake. Gordon started on the pole and traded the top spot with Matt Kenseth on the opening lap. Gordon then led until Tony Stewart passed on a lap 12 restart. Gordon dropped to 8th after pitting on lap 23 while others stayed out. He made his way through the traffic, but Stewart passed on lap 33. He was running second to Stewart when the caution waved on lap 39. Shortly after the next restart, Stewart went into turn one too hard and spun backwards, giving Gordon the lead. He paced the field until a caution on lap 52. Gordon beat the field off of pit road, but four drivers elected not to pit. Gordon restarted 5th and once again worked through traffic in front of him. He re-assumed the lead on lap 60 and stayed on the track during a caution flag period on lap 63 opting to gamble on making it to the finish on fuel. After a restart with 18 laps to go, Juan Pablo Montoya blocked Martin Truex heading into turn one. Montoya spun into Kevin Harvick. Both drivers engaged in a shoving and shouting match after exiting their cars. The last restart with 7 laps to go saw Stewart close in on Gordon's rear bumper. As the laps wound down Gordon held Stewart at bay but spun off course in turn one with 2 to go. He regrouped to finish 9th. "I was driving hard and overdrove it," Gordon said. "We're right on the edge there in the braking zone getting into the corner... just stupid. I pushed and I went too far."
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 13) – - Steve Letarte, crew chief for Jeff Gordon, was suspended for six races after infractions discovered during qualifying for the road course race in Sonoma, California in late-June. While Gordon has come close to victory lane in Letarte's absence, he was unable to score a victory in the six races that Letarte missed. His crew chief will return to his familiar perch atop Gordon's pit box in Sunday's 3M 400 at Michigan Speedway. "I'm really proud of the way he's handled himself through all this," Gordon said. "I'm extremely proud of the team and how they've handled the situation and I really think our team has become stronger in a lot of ways because of it. He's made some great calls this year and I really think he's the reason this team is elevated up to the level we're at."
BLAKESLEE, PA. (August 6) – - Kurt Busch thoroughly dominated the Pennsylvania 500 by leading 175 of the 200 laps en route to his first win of the season. After winning at Pocono in June due mainly to strategy in a rain-shortened event, Jeff Gordon knew the team couldn't bring the same car back and expect similar results. Gordon went with the car from Indianapolis and the results spoke volumes. Whereas in June he needed to play pit strategy to contend, in the August race he made steady progress through the field. He started 11th but had moved up to 5th by lap 25. A slow pit stop on lap 53 dropped him to 7th, but he made those positions up with on-track passes of Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. At the halfway point he was running 3rd, before taking the runner-up spot from Denny Hamlin on lap 108. A caution on lap 122 for Dale Earnhardt Jr's spin allowed Gordon to close the deficit on race leader Busch. However, Gordon slipped to 4th on the restart and dropped to 7th during a round of pit stops under caution on lap 139. Gordon elected to change four tires. Once again, he made his way through the pack under a long green flag run. He took 7th place from Casey Mears with 57 laps to go, and later zoomed past Stewart to take 4th with 50 to go. Four laps later he passed Hamlin for the 3rd spot but was distantly behind Busch and Earnhardt Jr on the track. Hamlin got the spot back on pit road during the final round of pit stops. A caution for a three-car wreck back in the field bunched the pack for the final 15 laps. Busch took off on the restart to easily claim his first victory of the season. Gordon battled Hamlin in the closing stages but was unable to take the position and finished 4th. "We had a stronger car than the last time we were here," Gordon said. "But (Kurt Busch), wow. We drove from 11th and had a car that could pass and drive to the front. We got up to second and knew we couldn't win so we started making adjustments and it got us behind."
For The Cause
BLAKESLEE, PA. (August 4) – - Jeff Gordon joined retired driver Ernie Irvan and current drivers Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch for a Q&A session at Pocono Raceway to benefit Irvan's Race2Safety and the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania on August 4. The festivities kicked off with a Q&A session in which Gordon, Irvan, and the Busch brothers answered the questions of NASCAR fans and presented the top fundraiser with a signed helmet to recognize their outstanding effort for brain injury awareness and prevention.
Stewart Takes Indy
SPEEDWAY, IN. (July 30) – - Tony Stewart took the lead from Kevin Harvick with 10 laps to go and went on to win the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Stewart's second consecutive victory and second career win at the famed Indiana track. The much-anticipated battle between Stewart and Jeff Gordon never materialized after Gordon battled a tight handling car in traffic. Nevertheless, Gordon posted a 3rd place finish, thus already equaling his top-10 output from a season ago. Gordon started 21st and worked his way up to 14th by lap 5. He entered the top-10 on lap 9, and was running 9th when the first caution came out on lap 14. From there he steadily picked off cars getting around Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to take sixth by lap 40. A solid pit stop gained him two more spots but he slipped back to 15th after taking four tires under caution on lap 60. Once again he patiently worked race traffic and was running 7th when the caution waved for debris at the halfway point of the race. Gordon passed Greg Biffle for fifth with 53 laps to go as the race settled into a long green flag run. Gordon's final pit stop came under green with 33 laps to go. The final caution waved with 25 to go for Dale Earnhardt Jr's blown engine. Gordon restarted 3rd after Kyle Busch pitted but was passed by Juan Pablo Montoya on the restart. With four laps to go, he followed Montoya past Harvick to take third place. "We've stunk in qualifying the last couple of races (at Indy)," Gordon said. "I don't know where we're missing out. That gets us behind. We had one of the best cars today we've had in a while for this race. I was just happy to finish third. I had a couple laps where I was really fast, but I couldn't maintain it. I was getting ready to be passed by Kyle Busch which had fresh tires, but nobody had anything for Tony today."
One Nation Under Dog
SPEEDWAY, IN. (July 27) – - The 2007 Jeff Gordon Foundation fantasy car was unveiled on Thursday at the foundation's annual Bowling Tournament with the help from former patients at the Riley Hospital for Children. "Have No Fear" is the canine hero from the Walt Disney Pictures' upcoming comedy "Underdog" in theaters on August 3. The limited edition die-cast features Underdog prominently flying across the hood with the words "One Nation Under Dog." Underdog also appears on the sides of the car-- scaling a building-- and on the deck lid where he sits upon his trademark U beside the words "Have No Fear." Gordon's charity foundation began issuing collectible die cast cars in 2001, with proceeds benefiting children with chronic and life-threatening diseases. "Underdog was one of my favorite cartoons growing up and The Jeff Gordon Foundation is excited to partner with Disney on this program," Gordon said. "The fantasy paint schemes we've done are very popular, and they seem to get cooler every year."
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