August News

Closer You Get
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE - Bristol Motor Speedway. Finish: 3rd

It wasn't a victory, but Jeff Gordon's 3rd place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway moved him closer to Kyle Busch for the final NASCAR Chase wildcard spot. It was Gordon's 7th top-6 finish in the last 10 races.

Gordon started 11th and moved to 8th by the end of lap 5. The first caution waved on lap 10 for Ken Schrader's crash following contact from Jason Leffler. Gordon moved up to 6th shortly after the restart and held the position for the next 30 laps. He moved into the top-5 with a pass on Casey Mears on lap 49. He fell to 6th when Kasey Kahne passed on lap 55, and slipped to 8th by lap 75. A debris caution on lap 82 slowed the field and brought pit stops with Gordon back in 10th place. Gordon took four tires and restarted in 15th place. He dropped to 17th before the next caution for Sam Hornish's wall contact on lap 122. Adjustments followed with Gordon restarting in 18th. He moved to 15th by lap 140, and ran in 13th when the caution waved for David Ragan's spin on lap 149. Gordon stayed on the track and restarted in 4th place. He moved to 2nd on the restart, but dropped to 3rd when Brian Vickers passed on lap 176.

Ryan Newman's wreck on lap 190 brought out the caution. Gordon came to pit road and restarted in 15th place. He was unable to move forward before the next caution for Aric Almirola's wall contact on lap 223. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 8th place. At the halfway point, he ran in 5th place. Gordon took 4th on lap 255 before a caution for Brad Keselowski's spin on lap 270. Gordon stayed on the track and restarted in 2nd place alongside Jimmie Johnson. A caution on lap 322 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon beat Johnson off pit road and restarted in 8th place -- behind the cars that stayed on the track. He moved up to 3rd when Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart crashed while racing for the lead.

However, Gordon fell to 10th on lap 346 after getting into oil from Dave Blaney's car before a caution flag. Gordon opted for fuel only to ensure he could make it to the finish. He dropped to 14th on lap 360 and moved to 12th before a caution for Casey Mears on lap 412. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 5th place with 80 laps to go. He slipped to 8th before the next caution with 76 laps to go. Gordon moved to 6th with 67 laps to go before the next caution for Danica Patrick's crash following contact from Regan Smith. With 45 laps to go, he took 4th when Brian Vickers slid backwards while trying to take the race lead from Carl Edwards. Gordon moved to 3rd with 33 laps to go and trailed Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson for the lead. He came across the line in 3rd -- distantly behind race winner Hamlin.

Turning point
Gordon never led the event but used pit strategy and caution laps to ensure he had enough fuel to make it to the finish with a solid effort.

JG's comments
Video of JG's post-race press conference

Lost Highway
PURE MICHIGAN 400 - Michigan Speedway. Finish: 28th

Jeff Gordon's chances for the NASCAR Chase now come down to a victory at either Bristol, Atlanta, or Richmond -- while a handful of other drivers remain on a single win in 2012. A valve spring problem relegated Gordon to a 28th place finish at Michigan Speedway. After 10 consecutive top-20 finishes from Charlotte in May to Pocono in August, Gordon has now posted back-to-back sub-20th place efforts.

Gordon started 9th and dropped to 13th by the end of the first lap. His slide continued as he fell to 16th on lap 5 while battling a loose handling condition. The first caution waved on lap 6 for David Gilliland's spin. As the tire wore in, Gordon moved to 12th on lap 15. He entered the top-10 on lap 22 with a pass on Ryan Newman. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 36. He held the 10th position until Jimmie Johnson went by on lap 64. One lap later, the race leader Mark Martin was eliminated in a crash that started when Bobby Labonte spun off turn four. Both Martin and Kasey Kahne spun toward the infield, with Martin making hard contact with the pit wall. Gordon came to pit road in 9th and departed in 11th place after taking four tires. Gordon dropped to 15th before the next caution on lap 77 when Marcos Ambrose hit Regan Smith in turn 4. The next caution waved for Joey Logano's wall contact on lap 89 with Gordon holding the 15th position.

Gordon came to pit road and restarted in 25th position. However, he dropped off the pace on lap 94 due to an engine issue. He pulled the #24 car into the garage on lap 98 with a valve spring problem. He returned to the race on lap 135 while running on 7 cylinders and finished 28th.

After two races and two test sessions at Michigan in 2012, Gordon's best moment in the state this year might have been the meeting with Nena at the Jackson County Airport.

Turning point
Just before the halfway point, Gordon dropped off the pace with a valve spring problem. It was his first engine issue since the season-opening Daytona 500.

JG's comments
"It was a valve spring, just running along there and all of a sudden dropped a cylinder. I was pretty sure that's what it was. Of course the #14 had that same issue got our fingers crossed for all the other Hendrick engines out there. This is a tough place on engines. We rarely have these issues and it's unfortunate to have this one here today. It's the kind of year we have been having. I was hoping after Pocono we could carry some momentum and not have these kinds of back-to-back weekends, but that's not the case. We go on to Bristol and fight hard there."

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DIAGNOSE ON THE MOTOR? "It's something that when you come to Michigan and you turn these kinds of sustained rpm's on this fast of a track, it's always of concern here. And that bit us. We've been having a rough weekend. We're not handling the way we were hoping to. Track position is so important that all we had to do was get track position and we still could have come out of here with a good finish and even won the race. There's a lot of laps left and it's unfortunate we don't get to find out what we could do with it. It's the kind of year we've been having. We'll just go on to Bristol."

"WWell he took me four-wide and that wasn't that big of a deal but then he slid up in front of me off of Turn 2 and I had to check up or I would have wrecked all of us. So, I just didn't think that it was the smartest thing to do, especially as teammates. But, he chose to do it and that's fine. It all worked out. I don't care who I'm racing out there; I'm going to show my displeasure if I'm not happy about something. But that one was pretty close; but no big deal. I'm glad to see he's running good. Those guys have really got their car dialed-in here at Michigan this year."

Slick Mess
FINGER LAKES 355k - Watkins Glen Int'l. Finish: 21st

Marcos Ambrose took his second career win -- and second in a row at Watkins Glen -- with a victory in the Finger Lakes 355k. Ambrose took the lead from Brad Keselowski in turn 5, after Keselowski had bumped Kyle Busch from the lead in the esses. Jeff Gordon's day took a negative turn on the final lap where he spun in oil and finished 21st.

Gordon started 12th and moved into the top-10 on lap 3. He moved to 8th on lap 9 and closed in on Ryan Newman for 7th place. After battling loose handling, Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 23. The first caution waved on lap 25 for Jamie McMurray's blown tire and subsequent contact with the guard rail. Due to the earlier stop, Gordon stayed on the track and moved up to 4th place for the restart. The handling began going away and Gordon dropped to 6th on lap 35. His descent continued as he fell to 8th on lap 37, and dropped to 10th on lap 38. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 41. Gordon moved from 29th up to 16th before a caution for Denny Hamlin's blown engine on lap 59.

Gordon came to pit road for chassis adjustments and restarted in 18th. A caution for Jason Leffler's engine with 26 to go slowed the field. Tony Stewart's spin into the pit road guard rail brought out the caution with 20 to go. With 12 laps to go, Gordon moved up to 16th place. With 5 to go, he took 11th place from Martin Truex. Two laps later he moved into the top-10 with a pass on Paul Menard. However, he spun going for 9th place on the final lap and fell to 21st. Gordon is now out of the Chase wildcard spot, trailing Ryan Newman by 10 points, as well as Kyle Busch.

Turning point
After battling into the top-10 in the closing stages, Gordon spun on the final corner of the race and dropped to 21st.

JG's comments

"Oil all over the racetrack. It's pretty ridiculous that they don't want to end a race under caution and put that many cars in jeopardy. I had no idea there was oil out there. I knew there was all kinds of havoc happening all around. I'm pretty bummed out right now. We didn't have the day I thought we were going to have. I thought our car was a lot better than that. We started pretty good, but I knew something wasn't right. We tried to make an adjustment and didn't go the right way -- went backwards. Alan and the guys made some adjustments during the last stop. We weren't good on the restart, but man did it come on. We were passing cars left and right, I was having a blast. To work that hard all day long, to come all the way from way back to the top-10 and have it taken away because they didn't want to throw a caution is pretty disappointing. I jumped out there to the outside of Matt Kenseth. I think he could see the oil because he just gave it to me. I went out there and there was no grip, it just came around."

Jeff Wins At Pocono
PENNSYLVANIA 400 - Pocono Raceway. Finish: VICTORY

Jeff Gordon snatched the lead on a restart shortly before a downpour stopped the Pennsylvania 400, giving him his 86th career win and 6th victory at Pocono. Gordon also moved into the second wildcard spot for the Chase for the Championship.

After the start was delayed nearly two hours due to rain, Gordon started 27th and moved up to 23rd by the end of lap 2. He entered the top-20 on lap 8 and ran 17th when the caution waved for Kyle Busch's crash on lap 20. Gordon restarted 17th on lap 23 and moved to 15th within five laps. His forward charge continued as he moved into the top-10 on lap 33. At the 100-mile mark, Gordon moved to 8th place. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 49 and cycled through in 10th place. He moved back up to 8th place by lap 60 as the tires wore in. Gordon moved to 5th on lap 63, but was more than 16 seconds behind race leader Jimmie Johnson. He came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 78 and returned to the race in 7th place with rain bearing down on the track.

Kurt Busch's wreck on lap 86 following a cut tire brought out the caution flag. Gordon stayed on the track and moved up to 6th place when Mark Martin pitted. On the restart, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson made contact in turn one, which forced several in the top-5 to slow. Gordon held his line on the track and moved into the race lead. Heavy rain soon followed and NASCAR red-flagged the event. Less than 10 minutes later, the race was made official on lap 98 with Gordon declared as the winner.

Turning point
Gordon cooly moved low on the track to avoid the melee in turn one when Johnson got loose under Kenseth, which forced others in the top-5 to slow down.

JG's comments

Post-race Q&A media transcript w/ JG and Alan

"Life can't much better than it is right now. I'm looking forward to savoring this moment. Because that's the nice thing about not winning. When you're not winning much, lemme tell ya, you appreciate it a whole lot more and it sticks with you longer and you don't take it for granted. And this is one we're not going to take for granted and we're able to understand the meaning of it so much more. For that, I'm thankful."

"You can't ever give up. It doesnít matter where you're at. You've got to just try to go out there and win races. For all the things that have gone wrong for us this year, I still can't believe what just happened. But, I think this is the one that makes up for all the ones that have gotten away. I'm just so proud of this team. They just never give up and they gave me a great race car today. To start 27th and only have one caution, and work our way all the way up there like that, is pretty awesome. We got a great restart and got into that inside lane ahead of Kasey (Kahne) and then I saw the No. 48 (Johnson) get sideways and somehow I just came out on the other end of it leading. So, I'm just so excited right now. I know that you don't want to win them quite like this, but we've earned it because of all the things that we've done this year. We've been in position to win races and we were at the right place at the right time. We probably had something going our way. I just can't thank Drive to End Hunger, and DuPont, and Pepsi and Quaker State and Chevrolet and everybody. This is a great moment. And I've got both of my kids and my wife here. This is just like the greatest moment."

"Oh gosh. It's just an amazing day. I said to Alan Gustafson (crew chief) that miracles do happen. You start to lose confidence and doubt whether it's going to happen. Our cars have been good and our team has been good. We just needed some things to go our way and boy did they go our way today. I hate that those guys got caught up in that spin and wreck or whatever happened there. It was slick on those restarts. I've got to say hi to Rick Hendrick; I know he's not here. And we had a lot of pressure on us. All four Hendrick cars finally get into victory lane in one year. That's awesome. That's been a long time coming. I felt a lot of pressure because we hadn't done it yet. So this feels good. It's that little boost that we need to get through these next five races and don't count us out, don't count us out. This is a great moment. We needed this. And itís awesome. It feels good and we'll take it any way we can get it right now and we're having a blast. And I'm going to enjoy it so much with these guys (family). Happy Birthday to Alan Gustafson! That is a birthday present right there!"

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