Loudon Recap- Jeff Wins #9

LOUDON, N,H. - - Due to the increased amount of news surrounding the Loudon weekend, a synopsis page was necessary. From Ray Evernham taking a few laps around the track in a modified car, to Jeff's win, to Jack Roush's tire complaints, the news ledger was full.

One More For The Good Guys

Jeff Gordon won his ninth race of the 1998 season at Loudon by driving with patience and relying on a late pit stop to take the lead. The two tire stop near the end put him into the lead for good and he won by a comfortable margin over Mark Martin.

Under sunny skies, trouble lurked early for the DuPont Chevrolet. The car was plain lousy on new tires and that showed soon after the green flag flew. Gordon dropped back to eighth place but rallied back to fourth. After each pit stop, the DuPont Chevrolet would go backwards in the field. At one point, he lost twelve positions in a three lap span. However, on longer green flag runs, the car would come around. When the caution flag flew with about seventy to go, Gordon pulled onto pit road and took two right side tires. Realizing that the car performed poorly on new tires, crew chief Ray Evernham made the call for only two. Like Michigan, that proved to be the difference as the DuPont Chevrolet pulled away from Mark Martin to win the race.

In the post race press conference, crew chief Ray Evernham summed it up best. "I know all those car owners are fuming saying we put something in the tires. Well, I did put something in the tires; air. The same thing they put in their tires." The decision was made because the car was tight on short runs. The only way to free it up was to take two tires at the end. When asked about the call, Ray said, "I thought we could be third and not take a chance by getting hit by a lapped car."

The Unadulterated Crap

As Jeff Gordon and the DuPont team were making their way to victory lane, NASCAR officials were confiscating tires from both the winning team and the Valvoline team of Mark Martin. NASCAR will analyze the tires and will hold a press conference to discuss their findings. Walking through the garage area after the race, crew chief Ray Evernham encountered an angry Jack Roush who quipped, "Get outta here.." Roush, team owner of five cars including Martin's Ford, felt that Evernham had "done something" to the last set of tires that went on Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet. Ray answered back, "It's just air, Jack." Bill Ingle, crew chief for Ricky Rudd, came up with the quote of the week:
"What's beating all of us is youth. Some of these old guys who've been around forever can't stand it because a young guy's whipping their ass." And that's the bottom line.

Back To The Future

Ray Evernham, the crew chief of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon, is a racer at heart. Ray began racing modifieds in the northeast shortly after graduating from Raritan Township High in Hazlet, New Jersey. He left the series in order to make his mark in the technical side of racing, but returned for a brief modified stint in 1991. However, that was the last time he was in a modified car... until Friday. After the Winston Cup series finished their track activities, Evernham strapped into a modified car and took a few laps around the track "just for the fun of it." Upon exiting the car, his wide grin told the whole story. Once a racer, always a racer.

A Dream Comes True

At Loudon, Jeff Gordon brightened the life of ten-year-old Robert Martinson from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Robert, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, visited New Hampshire for the racing activities and a meeting with Gordon. On Friday, he dined with members of Gordon's crew. He met his hero on Saturday and was in the stands for the CMT 300. The trip was provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. Robert's wish was the 200th granted by the Idaho group.

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