August News

Night In The Pits
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE. Bristol Motor Speedway: Finish: 3rd

Rewind: On a night where Jeff Gordon dominated at Bristol Motor Speedway, he came up empty in the final rundown as Brad Keselowski won a late race off pit road to take the lead. Gordon, who led more than 200 laps, fell to 5th for the final restart. He regrouped to finish 3rd, but was distantly behind Keselowski at the finish. Gordon led more than 60 laps at Bristol for the first time since August 2003 -- a span of 16 races. In addition, he led more laps than he had in the previous 9 Bristol races combined.

Gordon started 4th and jumped to 3rd by the end of the first lap. He took the runner-up spot from Carl Edwards one lap later. Gordon took the race lead from Ryan Newman on lap 6. He led the race until the first caution flag for debris on lap 31. He came to pit road while others stayed out. As such, he restarted in 14th place. Gordon worked in race traffic and moved back into the top-10 on lap 60. He took 8th from Kevin Harvick on lap 65 and moved up to 6th by the 100-lap mark. A debris caution on lap 102 brought the leaders to pit road. He restarted 6th on lap 110 and quickly entered the top-5. Gordon took third place from Edwards on lap 116. He took the runner-up spot from Brad Keselowski on lap 124 and closed in on Jimmie Johnson for the race lead before a caution on lap 129. Gordon lined up along side Johnson for the restart on lap 138, but was unable to make headway to re-take the race lead while battling a loose handling condition. Gordon bided his time and passed Johnson for the lead on lap 183.

Gordon came to pit road on lap 239 for a green flag stop. He dropped to 2nd behind Matt Kenseth following the pit stop cycle, but eventally took the lead once again on lap 267. David Reutimann's crash on lap 297 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon exited in 2nd place behind Kenseth, but re-took the race lead on lap 326. Mark Martin's wreck on lap 360 brought a caution flag pit stop sequence. Once again, Kenseth beat Gordon off pit road to take the lead. Gordon worked around Kenseth to re-take the lead on lap 372. A caution for Kyle Busch's wall contact brought the field to pit road. Gordon dropped to 5th off pit road and was hindered by the inside line. He worked his way around Johnson with 62 to go, and took 3rd from Kenseth one lap later. Gordon is now tied with Kevin Harvick for 5th in the series standings -- though the points will be resent following the Richmond race.

Road ahead: With just two races before the Chase for the Championship, the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday night's 500-mile race. The Atlanta race provides the #24 team with an opportunity to fine-tune their intermediate track program since Atlanta has similar characteristics to Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway (Chase tracks).

JG's comments

"It was an incredible battle. I know that there wasnít much of a race up there for first when Brad (Keselowski) got out there with those four tires and got clear of us, but me and Martin and Matt Kenseth and Jimmie (Johnson); we were having a heck of a battle back there. But I'm really, really proud of this race team tonight. What an awesome race car. I think we made some huge improvements from the last time we were here. It felt like we had the car to beat; but you know what, we just didnít get the position that we needed to on that last pit stop. Our pit crew was awesome. Pit road is an interesting place here. We fought hard. That was just a great battle; a lot of fun racing, but just didn't quite have it there at the end."

"Matt (Kenseth) was strong and the No. 2 was really strong there in the run right there before that last one. I wasn't too worried about the guys on two tires so I was a little bit surprised we werenít able to get by Martin (Truex), he was really strong on the top. Man, me and Matt and Jimmie (Johnson) fought so hard there for what was that third or fourth position and we used up a lot of our stuff and Brad was just able to go out there and cruise but we had an awesome car and I'm so proud of these guys. I tell you the pit road thing is interesting here. I think they've got to look at that because qualifying becomes such a premium and we qualified pretty good and we had a pretty good stall but if you look at how the No. 2 and No. 17 were able to shoot out there I think it kind of defeats the purpose of a pit road speed. Thatís not what cost us, we just didnít get it done on the race track. We had a great battle, heck of a race car and led a lot of laps. Brad (Keselowski) did a great job and Martin did a great job of holding me off there. We raced hard and slid around bunch so it was a lot of fun. Great night for us, I'm proud of my guys, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and everybody. What an awesome race car. Canít wait to go to Atlanta.Ē

Tightening Down The Stretch
PURE MICHIGAN 400. Michigan Speedway: Finish: 6th

Rewind: Kyle Busch posted his fourth victory of the 2011 season with a victory in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Speedway. Busch led 22 laps and held off Jimmie Johnson on a green/white/checkered restart to score the 23rd victory of his Cup series career.

Jeff Gordon started 9th but dropped positions right after the green flag waved. He regrouped to work back up to 9th by lap 10, and was running 6th at the first caution flag on lap 29. After the restart, Gordon moved into the top-5. At lap 52, Gordon took 3rd place and made in-roads on the Roush Racing leaders of Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth. After a caution flag for Bobby Labonte's spin, Gordon lost position on the ensuing restart. He regrouped and took 5th from Kyle Busch on lap 62. However, overcast skies and wind impacted the handling on the DuPont Chevrolet. Busch re-took the spot from Gordon as he remained in the top-10. A caution at the halfway point brought the field to pit road.

After taking two tires, Gordon moved to 2nd place on lap 110. Three laps later, Gordon took the race lead from Matt Kenseth. He led for 11 laps before Kenseth re-took the lead when Gordon's water temperature increased due to trash on the front of the car. Gordon ditched the debris by bump-drafting Kenseth and then regained the top spot. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 138. Gordon slipped to 2nd after the round of stops. Two laps later he fell to 3rd when Busch went by. As the tires came up to pressure, Gordon passed Busch and Kenseth to take the lead. Final pit stops came under caution with Gordon leaving pit road behind Matt Kenseth. He dropped to 5th on the restart with 25 laps to go while battling a tight handling condition. Mark Martin sent Gordon back to 6th with 12 laps to go. A caution for Kurt Busch's wall contact set up a green/white/checkered finish. Gordon held on to post a 6th place finish -- his third top-6 finish in the last four races.

Road ahead: The annual night race at Bristol Motor Speedway is next on the docket. Before that, Gordon is scheduled for a mid-week test session at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado.

JG's comments

"We were really good in clean air and when we got our front we were able to show that. I think Kyle (Busch) was the best car and he won the race but I felt like we were the second-best car and when we got the lead we could really show that. I just didnít get clear of the No. 17 and then the No. 2 got in there and when that happened, it just killed us. We got real, real tight behind those guys and we got a bunch of debris on the grill that started messing with us and the temperature going up and we got loose, but hey all in all a solid day for our DuPont Chevrolet. You know I love the effort and what kind of race cars we are bringing to the race track right now. It's a lot of fun out there and you know I thought we were going to be a little bit better than that and at time we were but right there at the end I think we just needed a little bit better track position so I guess I didnít do a good job on the restart."

"I don't know if we ever stopped focusing on winning but I agree you can take some more risks and take more chances in this position. I hear we moved up even another spot in the points. I just love the consistency and solidness of this team right now and the position that we're in to go get those wins. We've got one more before we can qualify for that Sprint Million and we really want to make a fan a millionaire out there and get a million for our charity as well. Hopefully we can get that done at Bristol."

Timing Is Everything
HELUVA GOOD AT THE GLEN. Watkins Glen Int'l: Finish: 13th

Rewind: An ill-timed caution flag with 25 laps to go ended Jeff Gordon's chances for his first Watkins Glen victory since 2001. Nevertheless, he posted a 13th place finish and held onto 7th in the series points standings.

Under overcast skies, Gordon started 17th and moved into the top-10 by lap 11. He advanced as high as 7th before a pit stop sequence on lap 26. The first caution waved on lap 28 for Greg Biffle running out of gas on the track. Gordon advanced up to 3rd on lap 32 due to pit strategy. He took the race lead on lap 40 after Juan Pablo Montoya pitted, before losing the top spot to Kyle Busch on lap 44. At the halfway point on lap 45, he ran in 3rd place. Gordon pitted under caution on lap 50 after Kurt Busch wrecked. He restarted in 17th and again moved up through traffic. Due to a pit sequence, he moved to 2nd on lap 64. He took the race lead on lap 65, but was caught on the track when Denny Hamlin crashed in turn 1 -- on the lap where he wanted to come to pit road. Gordon eventually pitted under the caution and restarted in 20th place. He moved up to 13th with 4 laps to go before a debris caution slowed the field and set up a green/white/checkered finish.

On the final lap, Gordon eased around Tony Stewart when he went through the grass in the inner loop and finished 13th. It was his ninth top-13 finish in the last 10 races as he held 7th in the points standings.

Road ahead: The series heads to Michigan Speedway for the second time in 2011. Jeff Gordon struggled with handling in the first Michigan race and improvement on the 2-mile oval will be critical going forward as NASCAR closes in on the Chase for the Championship.

JG's comments

"We should be 11th, depending on when they threw the caution. But when Tony Stewart spun, it collected a couple of guys who were in front of us and we made it through pretty clean. So I believe we're 11th. Regardless, we just didn't have the caution fall our way today. We really had a fast race car. I'm really proud of this team. We got up there in the top five and we were able to maintain a really good pace. We knew that we were a little bit shorter on fuel than some other guys, so we just needed the cautions to fall right for us; and as soon as it was time for us to come to pit road, the caution came out and that hurt us pretty bad. So we drove from like 21st all the way up there to 13th and I think we had a chance of getting a couple of them on that restart; and then of course Tony had his issues. So, it was a pretty wild and crazy day as usual on these road courses with double file restarts and we survived."

"It was. At the beginning, it was pretty hairy. It started misting pretty good and there wasn't very good visibility for the spotters. From a driverís standpoint it wasnít too bad. But it was unpredictable in trying to guess at it from a crew chief standpoint was pretty tough. You never know when the rain is coming around here."

"We had a lot of pressure. We had our car with follow me and our social media channels there on the back so I had some pressure to get up there and make sure we had some guys following us. But we had an awesome race car. Right from the beginning I could tell we had a pretty good race car. We drove up there a little bit, but then we got some track position and were able to stay with the leader and I felt like a few adjustments away from; I don't know about a winning car, but a really good race car. And then the caution caught us out. We were coming to pit road that lap and then the caution caught us out. So we fell back to 21st or something and drove back up to around 13th. These road courses have become wild and crazy and very entertaining on those restarts in the closing laps. So we were able to survive. I donít know what happened to Tony (Stewart) when he spun through the grass, but we were able to get by a couple of guys before they threw the caution. So it was a pretty good day for our team. We were much better than that, but we'll take that finish."

"Well it is faster, but you canít have walls like that, do you know what I mean? You're going to find those places eventually, so you gotta fix them. Unfortunately this one has been found before and weíve seen what can happen. To me, weíre very fortunate that we donít have any injuries coming out of that because that could have been much worse. Obviously, it looked bad and I hope those guys are all right. But, anytime you're in a race car you're going to be trying to go fast and accidents are going to happen. And when they do, youíve got to make sure you've got a clear path for cars to exit the race track. In this situation, they've got a wall that spits a car, not only a big impact, but spits it right back out into oncoming traffic."

Obstacle Course
GOOD SAM RV 500. Pocono Raceway: Finish: 6th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon made the biggest move through the field at Pocono Raceway after starting 31st and finishing in the 6th position. However, it was due to his starting spot -- and lack of track position during the event -- that hindered him from challenging for the victory.

After contact with the turn 2 wall in qualifying, Gordon started in 31st place. He was unable to make significant headway in the opening stages and ran 28th when the first caution waved for Kyle Busch's spin on lap 13. After a pit stop, he moved up to 25th on lap 19 before David Ragan's spin in turn three. Gordon held the low line and easily avoided Ragan's spinning car. He stayed on the track during the caution and moved up to 21st for the restart. However, he struggled with handling and dropped to 26th by lap 25. Following a green flag stop on lap 41, Gordon advanced to the 22nd position. Twenty laps later, he moved up to 18th and held the spot through a round of green flag pit stops. Gordon ran in 17th place on lap 70 and took over 15th on lap 72. Another cycle of green flag stops occurred about 15 laps before the halfway point. Gordon ran in 13th place after the round of stops. A timed debris caution at lap 100 brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted 13th and moved into the top-10 on lap 108. He took 8th from Brad Keselowski on lap 112, and ran in 6th on lap 119 when he passed Clint Bowyer. A caution for rain came on lap 123 and was followed by a red flag period for nearly two hours.

The skies cleared and track drying began around 3:30pm. Shortly after 5pm, the drivers strapped back into their cars to complete the event. Pit stops followed after the red flag was lifted and Gordon restarted in 7th place on lap 131. With 48 laps to go, Gordon came to pit road for a four-tire change. He cycled through the sequence in 7th place. He took 6th place from Joey Logano with 36 to go. Gordon's final pit stop came with 27 laps to go. A caution flag for Juan Pablo Montoya's spin with 21 laps to go slowed the field and brought Gordon closer to the leaders. He stayed out during the caution and restarted in 5th place. Ryan Newman passed Gordon for 5th with 13 to go. Gordon remained 7th in the series standings after posting his 7th top-10 finish in the last 9 races.

Road ahead: The series visits the Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York. Since his last victory at The Glen in 2001, he has struggled on the 2.4-mile course. In the last 9 races there, his highest finish in 9th -- with 5 finishes of 21st or worse.

JG's comments

"I'm happy with our finish considering the way the day started and where we started, deep in the field. Once we got up there in the top six or seven, I really thought we would have a shot at getting further to the front. I don't know, we were just missing a little bit of something. There at the end it came down a little bit to pit strategy so we fell back one position with the No. 39 (Ryan Newman) getting up there pretty quick with his two tires. Had a shot at getting back at him then Jimmie (Johnson) and the No. 22 (Kurt Busch) got together and we just ran out time."

"The car was tighter after the ran than I thought it would be. I thought the car would be loose if anything. We were a little bit tight before. So, yes, I think we guessed wrong a little bit on that and made some adjustments to make it better. I donít know, we were missing just a little bit but still a good day for us."

"When they dropped the green flag, we really struggled. So maybe some of it was the track conditions, they had just run that ARCA race and there was a little bit different rubber on it, but, just being back there in traffic, I really struggled. I went backwards instead of forwards which I really thought we would come forward. I knew we had a good car and knew we needed to make maybe a few adjustments, but most importantly, just get that track position. My team has been just awesome, not just today, but lately. From the pit stops to the good calls and adjustments that Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) is making got us in the position to work our way up through there."

"You really make that decision on the spot. I'll be honest with you, coming into this race, even though we qualified bad. Or I should say I hit the wall and made us qualify bad, I felt confident that when they dropped the green, we were going to drive by some cars and that was not the case. You just never know. At that time, I really wanted to make those moves because I thought the rain was coming in a hurry and get up there as fast as we could, but we just we didn't have the car. We just weren't in position. I couldn't be aggressive. But as the race went on and the rubber started laying down, I felt our car getting better and we started gaining speed and we started making our way through the traffic. That is when I knew just be patient and we've got a car."

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