August News

Loose Wheels Dampen Bristol
IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE - Bristol Motor Speedway. Finish: 20th

Joey Logano held off Kevin Harvick to win the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon ran as high as 2nd place in the rainbow-themed #24 car, but needed two unscheduled pit stops for loose wheels in the final 110 laps before finishing in 20th place. Gordon dropped to 15th in the NASCAR Chase standings, with a 52-point cushion over the cutoff with 2 races remaining before the 10-race Chase begins.

Gordon started 24th and moved to 21st by lap 15. He entered the top-20 with a move around Austin Dillon on lap 19. He took 19th from Kasey Kahne on lap 45 and took 18th from Ricky Stenhouse one lap later. The first caution came on lap 52 for debris. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for 4 tires and restarting in 18th place. He used the low line to his advantage and ran 16th on lap 60. Gordon entered the top-15 on lap 113 when Matt Kenseth came to pit road with terminal engine problems. He advanced to 14th past Jimmie Johnson on lap 117. The next caution came on lap 125 for Kyle Larson's cut tire. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon restarting in 17th. He gained a spot prior to a caution for AJ Allmendinger's spin on lap 145. Gordon came to pit road to fix sheet metal damage and restarted in 20th place. He quickly gained 3 spots and ran 17th on lap 160, and re-entered the top-15 on lap 170. At the 200-lap mark, Gordon ran in 13th place. He took spots from Jimmie Johnson and Justin Allgaier to run 11th on lap 225. However, Kevin Harvick took a spot from Gordon on lap 229. He regained 11th place by passing Brad Keselowski on lap 238. A debris caution at the halfway point brought the lead lap cars to pit road with Gordon exiting in 11th place.

Gordon entered the top-10 on lap 263 and took 9th from Martin Truex on lap 272. Harvick passed on lap 287 to send Gordon back to 10th. He regained 9th by passing Jamie McMurray for the spot on lap 299. Gordon moved to 7th on lap 345 after taking a spot from Kurt Busch and an unscheduled pit stop by Kyle Busch. He moved up to 6th on lap 355 when Carl Edwards pitted with a flat tire. A spin by Kyle Larson brought the caution on lap 360. Gordon came to pit road and restarted in 5th place. He moved to 4th when David Ragan crashed on the backstretch. On the restart, Gordon used the outside line to move up to 2nd place behind race leader Joey Logano. Ricky Stenhouse's wall contact slowed the field on lap 383. Gordon lined up next to Logano for the restart on lap 389. Gordon slipped to 4th when Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr went by. Kyle Busch took a spot on lap 399 to send Gordon back to 5th. On lap 406, Gordon came to pit road for an unscheduled 4-tire pit stop after feeling a vibration. He dropped to 18th place and ran 2 laps down. A debris caution with 71 to go slowed the field. Gordon took the wave around and restarted 1 lap down in 17th. With 25 to go, Gordon came to pit road for a loose wheel. He fell to 23rd place, 4 laps down. Gordon was able to gain 3 spots in the final laps before finishing in 20th place.

Trending Downward
PURE MICHIGAN 400 - Michigan International Speedway. Finish: 17th

Matt Kenseth dominated the Pure Michigan 400 by leading 146 of the 200 laps en route to the victory. Jeff Gordon's final race in Michigan was one to forget as he battled track position and handling to a less than stellar 17th place finish. Gordon dropped to 15th in the NASCAR Chase standings, and has a 55 point cushion over the Chase cutoff with 3 races remaining. It was Gordon's 3rd finish outside the top-15 in the last 4 races.

Gordon started 21st and dropped to 24th on the opening lap prior to David Ragan's spin to bring out a caution. On the restart, Gordon dropped to 26th before a debris caution on lap 11. He advanced to 20th at the competition caution on lap 21. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 20th place. Within three laps, he worked his way to 16th. He stayed out to lead a lap during a green flag pit sequence before coming to pit road on lap 61. Gordon ran 15th when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 72. He stayed out and restarted in 8th on lap 76. However, he struggled on the restart and dropped to 17th by lap 80. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 15th place.

Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 103. He cycled through in 14th place. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 121. After pit stops, Gordon restarted in 13th. He moved up to 12th when Clint Bowyer spun on the backstretch to bring out a caution on lap 126. Another caution for Tony Stewart's spin moved Gordon up to 10th when Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski came to pit road for fuel. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 168 to ensure he could make it to the finish. Gordon cycled through in 12th place. Jimmie Johnson's spin brought out the caution with 17 to go. Gordon restarted in 10th place with 14 to go. However, he lost spots after being caught in the middle line and dropped to 17th with 10 to go.

JG's comments
"Our day didn't end the way I was hoping. We were able to hover around the top-12, which I was extremely happy with. Unfortunately that is not where we ended up. Just couldn't get going on the restarts which is no surprise. It happens to us every weekend."

Braking Bad
CHEEZ-IT AT THE GLEN - Watkins Glen International. Finish: 41st

For the second time in the last 3 weeks, Jeff Gordon posted a sub-40th place finish. Gordon lost 4 laps at Watkins Glen after a brake fluid line issue on lap 25. Gordon dropped to 14th in the NASCAR Chase standings with 4 races remaining before NASCAR's playoff begins. The 41st place finish was his worst career finish on a road course. In addition, it's the first time since 2008 that Gordon posted 2 sub-40th place finishes in the same season.

Gordon started 5th and dropped to 9th by the end of lap 4. He took 8th from Tony Stewart on lap 12, while complaining of handling issues. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 24. Greg Biffle's cut tire brought out the caution on lap 26. Gordon returned to pit road to diagnose a brake problem on the #24 car. The crew worked on multiple stops to fix an issue with leaking brake fluid. Gordon sat on pit road and lost multiple laps as the line was fixed. A debris caution on lap 31 slowed the field, while Gordon went 4 laps down on pit road. A crash after a restart on lap 49 eliminated Kasey Kahne, which allowed Gordon to gain a spot on the track. He ran in 42nd place on lap 54. Tony Stewart's broken gear provided Gordon was another spot to gain and he moved to 41st on lap 60 where he finished the event.

JG's comments
"It's disappointing. We can't afford to have these finishes if we're going to make the Chase. Just when you think you get something that goes your way, and something like this happens. We keep fighting and digging and trying to get the finishes we need to get solidly in there. We need to improve performance-wise, but I think our performance is not bad. Right now it's the unknown. The concerns of freak things happening like what happened at Indy (and) what happened here. Those are things out of your control. We're all about the things you can control. From that standpoint, we're trying to improve the performance of the car slightly. We're not far off, though."

Fuel Strategy Pays Off
WINDOWS10 400 - Pocono Raceway. Finish: 3rd

After running mid-pack for most of the race at Pocono Raceway, Jeff Gordon pulled off a 3rd place finish after fuel strategy worked to the advantage of the #24 team. A green flag run to the finish following the final round of stops allowed Gordon to move up from 15th to 3rd in the final 3 laps as drivers pitted for fuel. Gordon tied Mark Martin for the most top-5 finishes (20) at Pocono.

Gordon started 9th and moved up to 7th by the end of the first lap. The first caution waved on lap 5 after Kasey Kahne spun off turn 3 and drilled the pit wall. After a 30-minute red flag for repairs to the pit wall, racing resumed on lap 8. Gordon took 6th from Tony Stewart on lap 13 and ran there when the competition caution waved on lap 15. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 4th place. He took 3rd from Austin Dillon prior to the next caution on lap 21 for Kevin Harvick's blown engine. The next caution came on lap 28 after Ricky Stenhouse drilled the turn 1 wall. Gordon came to pit road for tires and fuel. Some drivers stayed on the track who had previously pitted, which sent Gordon to 23rd place for the restart. He re-entered the top-20 on lap 40 as drivers ahead began pitting under green. Gordon advanced as high as 2nd place during the pit sequence before coming to pit road on lap 59. The next caution came on lap 62 for a loose tire on pit road. Gordon restarted in 12th place on lap 65. However, on the restart, Gordon was shoved out of the groove and had to dramatically slow to avoid Kurt Busch's spin in turn 1. He fell to 16th place for the restart on lap 71. Gordon ran 16th at the halfway point on lap 80.

Gordon moved up to 5th place during a green flag pit stop sequence. A caution for Alex Kennedy's crash on lap 91 brought out the caution. Gordon pitted for tires and fuel and restarted in 16th place. He struggled on the restart and dropped to 21st place before rallying back to 19th on lap 100. He stayed out to lead a lap during a green flag pit sequence and came to pit road with 33 laps to go. As the laps wound down, Gordon moved up to 17th with 13 laps to go, and took 16th from Ryan Newman with 11 to go. With 4 to go, he moved into the top-15 with a move around Greg Biffle. As drivers ran out of fuel, Gordon moved into the top-5 and came across the line in 3rd place. It was his best finish since Bristol in April (span of 13 races). Gordon remains 12th in the NASCAR Chase standings with 5 races to go until the Chase begins.

JG's comments
"It would be a long, long list if we talked to a bunch of people in the grandstands and myself, and everybody on pit road and probably people watching at home to find out who was more surprised [with the finish]. That was crazy. I'm so proud of (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and everybody on this team. We fought through a lot. We've been fighting hard. We just haven't been getting the results. Today they stuck with a strategy and it played out. It wasn't looking good at times, but boy, it sure looked good when we crossed the finish line and got the checkered flag."

On the race:
"I'm not exactly sure where I started on that first restart but it was like 15th, 16th and I can't say I passed many cars. We just kind of hovered around that area, wasn't real pleased with how our car was in traffic, and when we were up front we were pretty good, felt like we were a top 5 car. But we played the fuel-mileage strategy pretty early on and that lost us track position and we weren't able to climb our way up through there, and we continued to play that strategy and I'm proud of Alan for sticking with it. There at the end we were one of the last ones to pit which allowed us to run hard all the way to the finish not having to conserve or save fuel. I thought we were trying to get maybe 10th or 12th and all of a sudden they said you're third, and I think I was probably the most shocked person out there on the race track when I found that out. I knew cars were peeling off, but I just didn't realize that many were either running out or coming to pit road."

Did that race have like a Michigan June 2009 feel when you finished second behind Mark Martin, and did you think you could script it like this running mid-pack all day and then Kurt spins in front of you, you fall back and finish third in the end?
"First of all, if I had a memory that I could go back to the details of 2009 Michigan, I probably wouldn't be stepping out of the race car (excess laughter). I could not tell you one thing about that race. I mean, all I can speak of is my memories here of Pocono over the years have been great. I enjoy the challenges of this racetrack right from the beginning, the shifting, the three unique turns and how you have to set up the person that you're racing each and every corner and try to get that momentum off the corner. It makes for frustrating moments at times, but also a lot of fun when you complete it. You know, I've had certainly some great victories here over the years, as well. The script I had played out in my head was we were going to be 15th, so this one was way better than that. For whatever reason the last couple times we've been here we've had decent race cars, not maybe the cars that we would have liked to have had, but cars far capable of better finishes than what we've had, have been getting, and just a lot of different circumstances not playing out. Some to our own credit and others just circumstances. Today finally one went our way for a change, which is really nice to bounce back after last week's unfortunate incident where we lost so many points."

How was the car compared to June?
"I think we were more competitive in June. I mean, we were running up front in June, and I thought we were holding our own with guys like Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Those were guys were pretty quick. I didn't think that we were as strong today as we were then. But you know, like you mentioned, when the 41 bonzaied it down into Turn 1 and spun out, we lost a bunch of track position on that situation and just never regained -- it's really hard to evaluate your car. All I can tell you is Brad went by me like I was standing still, like I had 100 laps on my tires and he had three laps on his tires, so we've got some work to do."

Looking to Watkins Glen next and wondering what you feel you can bring to the table there as road course racing is something I think of you as being quite proficient at.
"The one thing that's encouraging to me is last year I thought we were really strong there. I don't know if it was an alternator or battery issue, but yeah, some kind of battery connection issue and we lost power, so we never saw it play out. That happened -- I think we were running second to Marcos Ambrose at the time. I'm encouraged by that. I'm looking forward to going back there. I know our aero package is a little bit different, but you know, I don't think it's that much different from what we had last year, so hopefully we can have another strong finish and performance there. That would be awesome. We need them -- right now every race is so critical for us. We can't afford to have finishes like we had last week at Indy, and so we're going to have to attack and be on -- just marching forward to be aggressive to try to get those good points and finishes and hopefully a win."

How much momentum does that provide you and your team for Watkins Glen next week and the races before the Chase?
"This track is nothing like Watkins Glen. We need every bit of boost that we can possibly get. It's not been the kind of season that we would hope to have for my final season and certainly hasn't stacked up to what we had last year, but we don't quit. We fight for every race to build a better race car, to get the performance up, pay attention to our competitors, and do all that we can to put the best race car and race team out there. Sometimes you need just something to pull you through it, and last week got us down quite a bit. This is definitely going to lift us back up, so we'll try to -- I think it's not about carrying momentum, it's about getting momentum, and I think this is the beginning of hopefully what can get us the momentum we need to get where we need to."

You're 12th on the Chase grid right now. You had something happen to you at Indy last week, and you come out today with what looked like was going to be a mid-pack, maybe top-15 run, you end up third. How big are those points as the season is winding down?
"Yeah, I think as a team even though we're not performing to the level we want to we are performing well enough to make it into the Chase. If you knew that you were going to finish between 10th and 15th every week here going forward, but just like what happened last week, you can't afford to have many 42nd place finishes. That could be disastrous. There are no guarantees, and so you've got to gain all the points you can when you have the opportunity. We had that opportunity today; we did it. Like I said, this more helps make up a little bit for what we lost last week, but we can't afford to let that happen again. It's that fine line and balance between fighting as a team, as a driver, being aggressive, but yet not putting yourself in position to cost you everything, and so this is not the way we want to be in the Chase, but hopefully we can just continue to make gains and get ourselves in the Chase, and we've seen in the past where anything can happen when that Chase starts, but you've got to be in it first, and we're going to try to secure our way in there over the next few races."

On the Chase position:
"We're not in a safe position. Our teammates Dale Jr and Jimmie are, and Kasey is not at all so I don't know what happened today. I haven't talked to those guys, other than I know he got loose and got into the inside wall there on pit road, and we're going to be doing everything we can with the 5/24 teams being under one roof there at Hendrick Motorsports, working as teammates, working with our other teammates to try to do what we can to get both of us in. We're going to be fighting for every position. We know they are, as well, and if we're in the position -- if we can get a win, then we can be in a position to try to do all we can to help those guys get in. If it's setups, if it's cutting him a break here and there, whatever can be -- a pit stall selection, just the littlest things sometimes. Right now we've got too much to think about on our own, and they do, too, and we work together like we always do, and hopefully it works out for all of us."

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