Loudon Recap- Jeff Wins #9
One More For The Good Guys
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.
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.
Copyright ©1998 Jeff Gordon Online.
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