September News

Moving Day
AAA 400 - Dover International Speedway. Finish: 4th

Jimmie Johnson dominated the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway leading more than half of the event en route to his 8th career win on the 1-mile track. Jeff Gordon posted a 4th place finish and moved into a tie for 4th in the series standings.

Gordon started 16th and moved up to 12th place by lap 25. He advanced to 11th prior to the first caution on lap 37 for debris. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 12th place on lap 41. He moved into the top-10 by lap 60 and ran 9th on lap 70. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 7th place as the #24 car seemed at its best on longer runs. He led two laps prior to green flag pit stops on lap 125 -- the fifth consecutive race Gordon has led. Following stops he ran in 8th place, but was unable to make headway over the next 40 laps. A debris caution on lap 164 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon restarted in 7th place on lap 170. After slipping to 9th on the restart, Gordon rallied back to run 7th at the halfway point.

Gordon took 6th from Ryan Newman on lap 224 as the car improved on the long run. A caution on lap 227 for Brad Keselowski's engine brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon held 6th place through the cycle of pit stops. He used the outside line to his advantage and took 5th shortly after the restart. Gordon took 4th from Kyle Busch on lap 264 and moved to 3rd with a pass on Matt Kenseth on lap 266. He gained ground on his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr prior to a green flag pit stop cycle on lap 313. A debris caution with 31 laps to go altered late race strategy and brought the leaders to pit road for the final time. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called for two-tire change and Gordon restarted in 2nd place.

Johnson, as the race leader, opted for the outside line for the restart with 27 laps to go. Gordon dropped to 4th on the restart behind Johnson, Earnhardt Jr, and Joey Logano. He wound up the event in 4th place -- his 5th top-10 in the last 6 races. Gordon moved up to a tie for 4th in the series standings, 39 points from the top spot.

Turning point
Gordon restarted 2nd with 27 to go, but struggled on short runs throughout the day. Without the last caution, it was possible that Gordon could have stretched his fuel to the finish and captured a victory.

JG's comments

"I think we had that strategy nailed. We came in after stretching it as far as we could. The team did an excellent job getting it full of fuel. I was saving most of that run. We were 4 laps short -- I felt very confident. But, that doesn't matter. The caution came out and we just did not have a short run car. We took 2 tires to get track position, which won the race. But it just didn't work for our car. All in all, it was a great day for our team. I was very happy with the overall performance of everybody. I was having fun. Congrats to Jimmie -- he's so tough here. It's no surprise that he won. Great job by Dale Jr too, that was fun to watch."

"We have to keep performing the way we've been performing. The driver can't slide into the pit stall too far. We just have to keep knocking out good pit stops and having good race cars like we've had. I'm very excited and motivated by how well this team has stepped up ever since the Chase. I can't wait to get to the next race."

White Line Fever
SYLVANIA 300 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Finish: 15th

Jeff Gordon seemed to be in control of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He led more than 30 laps as the race approached 100 laps to go. However, a costly mistake on pit road dropped Gordon back to 22nd place. He slid through the pit box onto the white line and had to back up. In the final stages, Gordon moved from 22nd up to 15th to salvage the day. He trails race winner and points leader Matt Kenseth by 42 -- the equivalent of a full race.

Gordon started 3rd and took the runner-up spot from Ryan Newman at the end of lap 3. He held the spot until the competition caution on lap 30. After taking two tires, Gordon made contact on pit road with David Ragan who was entering his stall. The contact wrinkled the sheet metal in front of Gordon's right front tire. He restarted in 6th place on lap 34 and quickly moved to 5th by lap 35. Two laps later the caution waved for a wreck involving Jamie McMurray and Kevin Swindell. On the restart, Gordon fell to 7th on the inside line. Bobby Labonte's cut tire and subsequent crash brought out the caution on lap 52. Gordon moved to 6th after the next restart and took 5th from Brad Keselowski on lap 62. Twenty laps later he advanced to 4th with a move around Newman. Gordon assumed the lead on lap 110 during a green flag pit stop sequence. He came to pit road one lap later for a four-tire change.

Followng the stops, Gordon cycled through in 5th place behind Keselowski. At the halfway point, Gordon advanced to 4th by passing Kasey Kahne. A caution on lap 164 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon's crew opted for two tires and restarted with the race lead. A debris caution with 100 to go slowed the field. Gordon slid through his pit box to the white line and needed to back up prior to a four-tire pit stop. He restarted back in 22nd place with 95 to go. He re-entered the top-20 with 85 laps to go and took 19th from Juan Pablo Montoya with 83 to go. Gordon had moved to 16th when the caution waved for David Gilliland's engine with 55 laps to go. The #24 crew changed right side tires and Gordon restarted in 14th place. He moved to 13th just before Kahne crashed on the frontstretch -- which effectively destroyed his teammate's Chase hopes. On the restart, Gordon was caught in the middle line and dropped to 20th place with 40 laps to go. He steadily gained spots back and finished the race in 15th place.

Turning point
Gordon came to pit road with the race lead with 99 laps to go, but slid through his pit stall and dropped back to 22nd place on the track. The loss of track position ended his chances for a victory.

"I'm highly disappointed in myself. The team put me in a great position. We had a decent car and then track position made it into a great car. So it was obviously important to maintain that. I just came in and slid through. I hadn't come close to sliding through all day and I guess just leading, I carried a little bit more speed in there and crossed the splitter over the line by an inch and that's all it takes to make a difference between a chance at winning and finishing 15th."

"Well, I'm excited with the way we're performing. Chicago was great and this weekend was great and we just keep that up; we're not far out of fourth. We lost quite a bit of ground to those guys up front but not too much as far as getting in the top 5 in points. I think we are very capable of doing it but the driver can't make mistakes. Today was one of the days. This is a short race. Track position is so important. You can't make mistakes. I made a crucial one and I can't allow that to happen if we're going to get ourselves in the top 5 in points this year."

"Oh, I've been doing this for 20-some years, man. It's not like I've never made mistakes before but you just hate to make them at a crucial time like that. So I'm very disappointed. And I'll be disappointed until we get to Dover and start working on Dover."

"I knew it was close. When I got in there, the front started to slide. And I knew I was carrying a little bit more speed. I knew it was going to be close but I was hoping it would stop just at the line. I saw the official react and I knew we were in trouble."

"Oh, a top 10. That caution hurt us in general. We didn't need that caution to come when it did. So, that was taking us out of sync for what was going to work best for our pit strategy anyway. So, we were already going to be behind but there is a big difference between starting say 12th and 22nd. We lost a lot of spots to the other guys that took four tires and who knows how much that made a difference, but it was a bunch."

"I knew just from the way that the race was going, that passing was near impossible. And my car was a good race car, but it wasn't a good passing car; not to mention the absolute chaos that goes on. The guys were four and five-wide running all over one another. Just being in the mix of that and trying to battle your way through each position was difficult enough. But our car, being back there, just different have the handling characteristics that we needed to pass cars. We had the handling characteristics of a car that needed good track position and we had it until I messed up."

"I mean if (Matt) Kenseth keeps doing what he's doing, it's not going to matter what anybody else does. For us, we have to be realistic and look at our points position and outcome and right now we're not that far out of fourth, so that's a realistic goal for us right now. But anything is possible. We go to these next several races and go on a tear, who knows? But we're higher in points than where we started this thing, so we'll just keep that going."

"I knew they would be strong, but I thought this would be one track that we might have a little bit of an advantage on him. But then I saw the times that he was running yesterday in practice and I was like, 'Uh oh. They've got their act together pretty good.' And he was strong today. I thought he was beatable, but they didn't make any mistakes and were really good. Hats off to them. That was a great job and they're on a roll. Like I said, now we're going to Dover and that's a great track for him. So, yeah, they're definitely the team to beat right now."

"Last week stung it still stings pretty good. If we would have won today it might of helped a little bit, but we dug a pretty deep hole. When Matt (Kenseth) and the #48 and #18 are running like they are, I'm not going to catch them running sixth. So, we've got to do better."

Ground Gainer
GEICO 400 - Chicagoland Speedway. Finish: 6th

Jeff Gordon posted a hard fought 6th place finish in the day/night Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Gordon led 22 laps and seemed destined for a solid top-5 finish to start the Chase. However, a flat tire on lap 173 brought Gordon to pit road under the green flag. He lost a lap and his chances for a Chase-opening victory were dashed. He was able to get back on the lead lap with less than 40 laps to go and salvaged a 6th place finish. Gordon moved up to 7th in the series standings, trailing points leader Matt Kenseth by 24.

After rain showers delayed the start by more than an hour, Gordon started 6th and dropped to 8th within a lap of the green flag. He held the spot until taking 7th from Kasey Kahne just before the competition caution on lap 30. He restarted in 11th place after opting for 4 tires. Gordon re-entered the top-10 on lap 39 with a pass on Greg Biffle, and took 9th from Martin Truex on lap 49. As the run progressed he took 8th from Ricky Stenhouse and moved around Aric Almirola to run 7th on lap 57. Gordon moved around Dale Earnhardt Jr for 6th on lap 60. He led 2 laps during a green flag pit stop sequence and cycled through in 6th place. Just 25 laps before the halfway point, rain arrived and brought out the caution flag. After more than 5 hours of rain and track drying, NASCAR restarted the event at 9pm/central time.

Pit stops came prior to the green flag and Gordon restarted in 11th place. He advanced to 10th before a debris caution on lap 122. Gordon used the outside line on the restart to move up to 7th by lap 130. He took 6th from Kasey Kahne on lap 134 and entered the top-5 by moving around Brian Vickers on lap 139. Two laps later he took 4th from Aric Almirola. The next caution waved on lap 147 for Justin Allgaier's spin. Gordon changed two tires and emerged from pit road with the lead. He led the race until lap 167 when a debris caution brought the leaders to pit road. Kyle Busch beat Gordon off pit road after both opted for fuel-only stops. Gordon restarted 3rd after Biffle stayed out to assume the lead.

On the restart, Gordon slowed dramatically and came to pit road with a flat left rear tire. Two laps later the caution waved for Joey Logano's engine. Gordon came to pit road for 4 tires and restarted in 33rd place, one lap down. He quickly got himself into the free pass position. However, race leader Kyle Busch began lapping the tail end of the lead lap, which made it more difficult for Gordon to get back on the lead lap. With 50 laps to go, the lead lap cars began coming to pit road for green flag stops. Gordon was able to stretch his fuel longer because of the pit stop earlier for the flat tire. With 43 laps to go, Gordon re-assumed the race lead because of the pit sequence. Gordon received a tremendous break when Dale Earnhardt Jr's engine blew to bring out the caution flag.

Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 18th place. He moved to 15th with 34 laps to go, and took 12th from Denny Hamlin one lap later. He re-entered the top-10 with a pass on Clint Bowyer with 29 to go. Allgaier's second spin of the night brought out the caution with 28 to go. Gordon stayed on the track and restarted in 7th place. He took 6th place from Ricky Stenhouse with 18 to go and challenged Jimmie Johnson for 5th place before settling for 6th place at the finish.

Turning point
After a flat tire took him off the lead lap, Gordon was stretching his fuel hoping for a caution with less than 45 laps to go. Dale Earnhardt Jr's engine brought out the caution that Gordon needed for a shot at a solid finish.

JG's comments
"That was an incredible accomplishment. It just shows how much fight this team has in them. They never give up. What an awesome [car] we had tonight. That was so much fun. To think how far down we were with 40 laps to go. We were like 18th on one of those last restarts. To be able to come up through there, get 6th, and have a shot at a top-5 is a lot of fun. That's what we needed to get this thing started off right. I'm proud of this team and can't wait to get to the next race."

Tougher Than The Rest
FEDERATED AUTO 400 - Richmond International Raceway. Finish: 8th

Editor's Note: Jeff Gordon was added to the Chase field post-script because, in simplest terms, that's how NASCAR elected to level the playing field.

Two points. That's what separated Jeff Gordon from the NASCAR Chase after 26 races this season. Gordon finished 8th at Richmond International Raceway and missed the Chase cutoff for just the 2nd time in the 10-year history of the Chase. Gordon was in position to make the Chase in the closing stages. However, a spin by Clint Bowyer (ironically) changed the complexion of the event.

Gordon started on the pole and led the first 49 laps before Brad Keselowski took the lead away. Kurt Busch followed Keselowski past Gordon, which dropped him to 3rd place on lap 51. He fell to 5th on lap 61 when Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer went by. He faded to 8th place by lap 75 after wearing out the right rear tire. Gordon fell out of the top-10 on lap 86 when Kasey Kahne moved ahead. Gordon came to pit road on lap 94 for a green flag stop. He cycled through in 12th place and ran there at lap 100. Gordon moved to 11th by passing Kasey Kahne on lap 123. The first caution waved on lap 135 which brought the field to pit road for adjustments. Gordon gained 3 spots on pit road because of the first pit stall and restarted in 8th place.

Gordon held 8th until lap 177 when Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola went by to send him back to 10th. As the handling went away, Gordon fell to 15th on lap 186. A caution for David Stremme's spin on lap 208 brought out the caution. Gordon restarted in 16th place after adjustments on pit road. On lap 224, Gordon dropped off the pace and came to pit road after reporting a vibration -- which turned out to be a loose right front wheel. The crew changed four tires and Gordon returned to the track two laps down in 25th position. He tracked down and passed Brad Keselowski to put himself one lap down on lap 231. On fresher tires he was able to gain spots on the drivers one lap down and ran 23rd on lap 255. Seven laps later, Gordon passed Brian Vickers to move into 22nd place -- the free pass position if a caution waved. A debris caution on lap 264 allowed Gordon to get back on the lead lap to put himself in position to qualify for the Chase.

Gordon restarted 22nd on lap 274 and entered the top-20 soonafter. He took 19th place from Denny Hamlin on lap 292 and moved to 18th around Almirola 10 laps later. Gordon moved to 16th with 87 laps to go. With Joey Logano trapped 2 laps down, Gordon essentially needed a top-10 finish to qualify for the Chase at that stage of the event. He took 15th from Matt Kenseth with 75 laps to go, and took 14th from Martin Truex two laps later. Gordon came to pit road with 58 laps to go, just before Jimmie Johnson cut a tire to bring out the caution flag. He rolled through pit road and was the first car one lap down, which allowed him to get back on the lead lap. Gordon restarted in 12th place with 50 laps to go. He entered the top-10 with a move around Mark Martin, and took 9th from Ricky Stenhouse with 35 to go. He took 8th from Kenseth with 30 to go, which gave him a 2 point edge for the 10th and final Chase cutoff. Clint Bowyer's spin with 8 laps to go brought out the caution. Gordon had a difficult time gaining spots on the restart and finished the event in 8th place. However, Joey Logano advanced from 25th to 22nd after the final caution allowing him to edge Gordon for the final Chase spot.

Turning point
Clint Bowyer spins with 8 laps to go.

JG's comments
"It's unfortunate. We haven't had the kind of year that this team is capable of. That's where our focus is the next 10 races is just to know that we put in every bit of effort we possibly could. We fought through a lot of things. It wasn't pretty but we were getting it done until that caution came out. We still could have made it in. That restart didn't go the way we needed. So, that's unfortunate. Yeah, it's tough. I'm just bummed for this team. They work so hard and I don't know why we've had the kind of rough year that we've had. We're going to do everything we can to go to these next 10 races and step it up to get ourselves in position to be more competitive. Hopefully we can win a race or two and get ourselves in position to be in a better position when it comes to Richmond at this time next year."

"I don't know what it is about this track lately with me and this raceteam. We started off so great. We've done this before. And then all of a sudden we started fading. I was getting pretty frustrated at that time because it was that kind of condition where you're real tight landing and real loose off and I was like, 'How do we fix this? I don't know how to drive it any different. I don't know what to tell them.' But they did an awesome job. We stayed calm. We got a lap down, had a loose wheel, we had all these things thrown at us and yet we came back and finished 8th. I'm blown away that we finished 8th. I think that's a testament to this race team and the fight we have in us. It was fun to fight back like that. I wish we could have gotten a couple more."

Sixth Night
ADVOCARE 500 - Atlanta Motor Speedway. Finish: 6th

Jeff Gordon posted a 6th place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway to move within 6 points of the final Chase cutoff. Barring a victory at Richmond, Gordon would need to finish 6 spots ahead of Kurt Busch providing that Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr do not implode.

Gordon started 5th and dove to the inside to take 3rd by the end of lap 2. He bided his time and took 2nd place from Carl Edwards on lap 20. However, Joey Logano took a spot from Gordon prior to the competition caution on lap 25. Gordon picked up a spot on pit road and restarted in 2nd on lap 28. He struggled on the restart and fell to 5th before the caution waved for contact involving Kasey Kahne. After falling to 7th on the ensuing restart, Gordon regrouped and moved to 3rd place by lap 50. He took 2nd from Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 56 prior to a debris caution. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting with the race lead. He pulled away on the restart before a debris caution on lap 77. Edwards beat Gordon off pit road for the race lead. On the restart, Gordon struggled on the outside line and dropped to 5th. He quickly rallied back and took 3rd from Clint Bowyer by lap 83. Bowyer eventually tracked Gordon down and took 3rd on lap 103. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 122 and cycled through in 6th place. He took 5th from Brad Keselowski on lap 150 and moved to 4th when Joey Logano pitted one lap later. Gordon advanced to 3rd on lap 155 with a move around Jamie McMurray.

Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 164 and cycled through in 4th place. The complexion of the race changed when race leader Clint Bowyer blew an engine on lap 193. Gordon gained a spot and restarted in 2nd place. He tracked down Edwards and edged ahead on the backstretch on lap 202. However, Edwards fought back and kept the lead of the event. Logano then passed Gordon for the runner-up spot on lap 203 and took the race lead one lap later. The next caution waved on lap 206 for Denny Hamlin's spin. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 7th place. He fell to 10th after the restart and soon rallied back to 9th with a move around Edwards and took 8th from Kyle Busch on lap 216. One lap later he took 7th from Dale Earnhardt Jr and advanced to 6th with a pass on Kurt Busch. He dropped to 7th when Earnhardt Jr went by on lap 227. Busch passed Gordon on lap 230 to send him to 8th place. Earnhardt Jr faded and Gordon took 7th on lap 236. After Keselowski dropped a cylinder, Gordon moved to 6th on lap 248. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 253 and cycled through in 4th place. Kevin Harvick went by to drop Gordon to 5th on lap 258. Gordon fell to 6th when Earnhardt Jr went by on lap 264.

Loose handling hindered Gordon's efforts and he slipped to 9th on lap 272. A caution for Jimmie Johnson's spin slowed the field on lap 287. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for a track bar adjustment. He exited pit road in 8th place. Gordon fell to 10th on the restart prior to Brian Vickers' spin to bring out the caution on lap 294. Gordon lost two spots on the restart and ran 12th when the caution waved for Jeff Burton's wall contact on lap 298. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 16th place. On the restart with 21 laps to go, he moved from 16th up to 12th. He re-entered the top-10 with 19 laps to go and took 8th from Harvick with 16 to go. Gordon passed Marcos Ambrose for 7th with 12 laps to go. With 3 laps to go, he took 6th from Juan Pablo Montoya.

Turning point
Loose handling after lap 250 sent Gordon from 4th place back to 9th. He was unable to make significant headway until the final stages when he had fresher tires to finish 6th.

JG's comments
"We had an excellent car and it just got away from us a little bit. The track changed quite a bit and we just couldn't battle up front for the lead and the win like I thought we could have. I was a little disappointed in that. But it was a great effort by the whole team all weekend long. We'll take the momentum of these last two decent finishes with solid runs and fast race cars and take it to Richmond and see what we can do. I'm having fun. These last couple weeks we've been battling and passing and having a great time out there. That's all we can ask for. We didn't do enough of that earlier in the year. That's why we're in the position we're in."

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