September News

Jeff Wins At Dover
AAA 400 - Dover International Speedway. Finish: 1st

Jeff Gordon passed Brad Keselowski after the 300-lap mark and pulled away in the closing stages to win his 4th race of the 2014 season, and 92nd of his NASCAR Cup series career. This is the most wins Gordon has scored in a single season since 2007. In addition, it's his first win at Dover since 2001. Gordon is one of 12 drivers to advance to the three-race Contender round, which includes races at Kansas, Charlotte, and Talladega.

Gordon started 6th and moved into the top-5 by the end of the first lap. He took 4th from Denny Hamlin on lap 13 and moved to 3rd with a pass on Kyle Busch on lap 25. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 62 and brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon held the 3rd position through the round of stops. He slipped to 4th after Hamlin went by on the restart. A caution on lap 74 saw the leaders stay on the track. On the restart, Gordon used the outside line to his advantage and took 3rd from Hamlin. He took the runner-up spot from Brad Keselowski on lap 119 and closed in on Kevin Harvick for the race lead. A debris caution on lap 124 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon held the 2nd spot through the stops, but fell to 3rd after the restart when Keselowski went by on the outside. A caution for JJ Yeley's wall contact brought out the caution on lap 174. A missed lugnut on the pit stop dropped Gordon to 7th for the restart on lap 179. He took 6th from Denny Hamlin and moved around Kyle Busch to take 5th just prior to the halfway point.

On lap 206, Gordon took 4th from Matt Kenseth. He passed Jimmie Johnson on lap 223 to take 3rd and essentially made up the positions lost from the pit road miscue. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 249 and cycled through in 3rd place. Harvick cut a tire on lap 253 to bring out the caution, which allowed Gordon to move to 2nd place behind Keselowski. Kyle Busch used the high line to take 2nd from Gordon on lap 262. He bided his time and moved around Busch on lap 273. Gordon eventually tracked down Keselowski and took the race lead on lap 306. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 328 and cycled through with the race lead. Keselowski closed to less than a second with 20 laps to go, but was unable to make headway and finished distantly behind Gordon at the finish.

Turning point
Gordon's car exceled on longer runs, which he used to his advantage after the halfway point of the race to track down Keselowski and pull away for the win.

JG's comments
"I don't know what happened to Kevin Harvick. It was unfortunate for him. He was the class of the field. We were tuning on it to try to keep even with him. When I saw him go out, I knew we could compete with the No.2 (Brad Keselowski) car. The No. 2 was really good on short runs, but we could run him down. Of course he made us work for it there at the end because he was so good on short runs and he got to me. I was really, really tight in traffic there at the end. I didn't know if we were going to pull it off... I don't know what I've found, but I think a lot of it has to do with Alan Gustafson and all the guys on this No. 24 team. They've just giving me such an awesome race car this year. I'm having so much fun."

"Oh, I think this is huge. We came in here with a little bit of extra pressure because we weren't guaranteed to be in. If we hadn't finished where we were running at New Hampshire last week, it would have been kind of an easy day for us. But all we did was focus on executing as a team and trying to win this race and nothing else. It wasn't about the points; it wasn't about just squeezing by to get to the next round. It was about making a statement. I don't know how you make a bigger statement than what this team just did right there."

"I have to tell you, Alan Gustafson and this whole No. 24 team they worked so hard this weekend. We struggled a bit. It was not an easy weekend. There were times when we were pretty good. Other times we needed to really work on, we just stuck together as a team. They gave me a great car today. We weren't the fastest on the short runs, but boy if we had long runs I could get there at the end of the race. We were pretty tough to beat. They just made great adjustments. One time we got a little bit too free and luckily we didnít fall back too much and tuned on it a little bit from there and man that thing just took off. I hated that Kevin (Harvick) had his trouble. I don't know if we could have beat him he was pretty strong, but I would have loved to have raced him. I felt like we could beat the No. 2. He was good on the short runs, but we seemed to be able to pull ahead of him or run him down pretty good and consistently on those long runs."

Cut Down In New England
SYLVANIA 301 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Finish: 26th

Jeff Gordon finished 26th at Loudon after a late-race cut tire while running in 6th place. Gordon has a points cushion heading to Dover for the Chase cutoff into the next round, but cannot afford another sub-20th place effort.

Gordon started 13th and entered the top-10 by lap 15. He took 7th from Kyle Busch on lap 20 and closed in on Joey Logano for 6th place prior to the competition caution on lap 35. Gordon slipped to 8th after the restart before rallying back to take 7th on lap 45. He moved past Jamie McMurray to take 6th on lap 64 and moved into the top-5 on lap 75. Three laps later he took 4th from Kyle Busch. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 3rd place. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 105. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 3rd more than 3 seconds behind race leader Kevin Harvick. A debris caution on lap 170 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon held the 3rd spot for the restart on lap 174. He fell to 4th prior to a multi-car crash involving David Ragan, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex brought out the caution on lap 180. He moved to 3rd after the restart before the next caution for a multi-car wreck involving Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman. The wreck was triggered when Matt Kenseth got loose and slowed directly in front of Busch.

Brad Keselowski brought out the next caution with a spin on lap 192. On the restart on lap 199, Gordon moved ahead of Brian Vickers to take 3rd. Ricky Stenhouse's spin brought the caution out on lap 202. Gordon dropped to 4th before a debris caution on lap 210. Vickers and Casey Mears stayed on the track and Gordon restarted 5th with 85 laps to go. He fell to 6th place on the inside line before a caution for Kurt Busch's cut tire with 79 to go. Gordon moved into the top-5 with 70 to go and took 4th from Matt Kenseth two laps later. A debris caution on lap 246 brought Gordon to pit road for 2 tires. He ran in 19th place with 48 laps to go. Gordon ran in 17th place when Corey LaJoie spun to bring out a caution with 43 to go. Gordon came back to pit road for tires and restarted in 22nd place. He moved to 13th before a caution for Ricky Stenhouse's crash with 33 to go. Gordon advanced into the top-10 before a caution for Matt Kenseth's spin. With 23 to go, Gordon took 7th from Dale Earnhardt Jr. He passed Jamie McMurray for 6th with 17 laps to go. With 8 to go, Gordon cut a tire and drilled the turn 1 wall to bring out a caution.

Gordon crossed the finish line in 26th place after several pit stops to fix the damage (which didn't go very well). It was just his 4th finish outside the top-20 in 2014. Coincidentally, he also finished 26th at Loudon in July. Gordon has a 21-point cushion in the standings heading into the Dover cutoff race for the next round of the Chase.

Turning point
A cut tire with 8 laps to go altered Gordon's Chase standing.

JG's comments
"This place just doesn't like us this year for whatever reason. Both races this year we just had a lot of strange things happen to us. Today we were fighting hard like we have been all day long putting a great car out there. It's hard to get track position on the No. 22 and the No. 4 and even the No. 2 there, but I mean I was real happy with the car I thought we had an awesome race car, but it doesn't matter if you blow a right-front tire. I'm pretty sure we cut something. I felt it go down about three-quarters of the way down the front straightaway and there is just nothing you can do. Just go along for the ride and hope the damage isn't too bad, which we were very fortunate to still end up on the lead lap I guess."

"Well the problem is you just can't have things like that happen. We have a strong enough team. We went from being very comfortable going into next week's race to now not being very comfortable. We just have to go and perform and try to make sure things like this don't happen."

Off And Running
MYAFIBSTORY 400 - Chicagoland Speedway. Finish: 2nd

Brad Keselowski began the Chase for the Championship the same way he closed the regular season with a visit to Victory Lane. Keselowski took the lead of the Myafibstory 400 in the late going after Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson battled for the lead. It was Keselowski's 15th career win and it moved him into the next round of the Chase.

Jeff Gordon posted a runner-up finish after leading in the mid-stages. Gordon started 8th and moved up to 6th by lap 2. He took 5th from Jimmie Johnson on lap 7, and advanced to 3rd by lap 15 with passes on Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards. Gordon took the runner-up spot from Matt Kenseth on lap 16 and set his sights on race leader Kyle Busch. He took the race lead from Busch on lap 28 and led until Jamie McMurray went by on lap 40. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 46. He fell to nearly 2 seconds behind McMurray prior to a debris caution on lap 68. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for 4 tires and restarting in 7th place. He re-entered the top-5 on lap 76 when McMurray brushed the wall. Gordon's fresher tires paid dividends as he took the race lead from Kyle Busch on lap 88. The next debris caution came at lap 98 for Ryan Newman's tire. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 3rd place after a four-tire change.

He took 2nd from McMurray on lap 108, but was unable to close in on race leader Brad Keselowski. Shortly before a round of green flag stops, Kevin Harvick took 2nd place from Gordon. Following green flag stops on lap 149, Gordon ran in 3rd place. A debris caution on lap 182 allowed Gordon to erase more than a 6 second gap to the leader. He restarted in 2nd place alongside Kevin Harvick. On lap 200, Kyle Larson went around Gordon on the outside line to take a spot. He came to pit road for a green flag stop with 38 laps to go. The caution waved with 35 laps to go for Carl Edwards' cut tire. On the restart, Gordon lined up 3rd behind Larson and Harvick with Keselowski along side. Clint Bowyer's wall contact with 23 to go slowed the field. The next restart came with 19 laps to go. Keselowski moved ahead of Gordon to take 3rd with 18 to go. Keselowski then took the race lead from Larson and Harvick. A caution for Ricky Stenhouse and Danica Patrick's contact slowed the field with 9 to go.

On the restart, Gordon moved ahead of Harvick to take 3rd. With 3 to go he moved to the inside to take 2nd from Larson. Gordon posted a runner-up finish -- his best start to the Chase since the 2007 season when he also posted a 2nd place finish in the opening race.

Turning point
Gordon ran in the top-4 for the balance of the day. A late race restart allowed him to pass Harvick and Larson for a runner-up finish.

JG's comments "I was having a pretty good time watching Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick go at it in front of me. I didn't know what was going to happen. I thought for sure there was going to be a wreck. But that's just two guys that are wheeling it. I'm really proud of Kyle Larson. Man, what a great effort; such a young talent. I really wanted to see him win that race because I like him, but I didn't want to see those other guys win it either. But we had a couple restarts and this car was really solid. The whole team effort was extremely solid. And that's a great way to get started, especially with restarts like that to come out second. Brad Keselowski is really strong and Joey Logano is really strong in those short runs, and we had them beat I think, prior to that. Kevin (Harvick), well, maybe (Kyle) Larson, too, had us all beat prior to that. But still we were a top three or four all day long so to come in second, I couldn't be more proud of this team."

"We had a pretty solid day. We started eighth. We were able to drive up into the top two or three fairly early in the race. I knew we had a solid car. The line was changing quite a bit there early on, you know, laying rubber down, cars running all over the place. We ended up taking four tires more often than we anticipated. We thought we were going to be doing two more often. That one time we took four, others took two, we got out in front and drove away. The car was driving so, so good right there, I didn't want any changes. Once the other guys, like the 2, Kyle, Kevin were on equal tires right there with us, felt like they were a little bit better than us. We adjusted and fought through it all day. I thought it was a great team effort. Great pit stops. Great calls. Great adjustments. We just hung in there. Our car was pretty decent on restarts. I just needed to be in that outside lane. That inside lane was hurting me a little bit. I was able to get by Kevin, then Kyle. Saw his left rear was smoking really bad there. I didn't know if he cut a left rear tire or blew it up. Had a heck of a race there and were able to get to second. Our car was just solid. That's the way you want to get this thing started. Brad did a great job on that restart. He got the win.

"You want to get the win. It was tough out there today because I've been here before running up front, having a really good start to the Chase, then have had problems, clawing our way from there. While you can move to the next level with that happening, you almost kind of have to win after that. I think this is a great time for us to come out of here really solid and with a great second place finish. We got to get a little bit better. No doubt about it. I thought Kevin and Kyle were the best cars out there today. Keselowski, those cars are just really good on short runs. They have been all year long. You put them in that kind of position, they're tough to beat. If it comes down to a short run like that, it's hard to beat them. I thought we were close. Just needed to be a little bit better. I'm not going to complain too much with second because I've come out of here before much worse. This is a great way for us to get going."

"I think everybody goes out there to race to win. I don't think that's going to change for those guys. In the preparation for the next three races is where it's going to change. They can now change some of their focus on really getting prepared to go win, say, like at Kansas or something like that where they can be in this same type of position going forward. I think we all agree if you get a win early on, it puts you in a very comfortable position, similar to earlier in the season. If you got a win, that was going to lock you into getting in the Chase. It just puts you in the mindset of looking ahead, planning, better preparation for races coming up, but it doesn't stop you from racing for a win. Now, that might be different if we're going into Talladega. But every other track, I think everybody's going to be pushing hard to get those wins.

"I think this kid is the real deal. He's going to be a star in this series for a long time. I really wanted to see him win because I like him and I know he's going to win a lot of races, but I also didn't want to see those other guys win. I'm a big fan. I like seeing young guys out there driving like that. That's so much fun. That's what this sport is all about. I just want to let him know what a great job I thought he did."

"Yes and no. I mean, when you have a groove that widens out like that, then it opens up the opportunity for different cars to be stronger at different points of a run. Harvick wasn't that good on the short runs. He looked like he was loose. Brad was good on the short runs. I was pretty decent on the short runs. Kyle, he was really solid throughout almost the whole run, but especially from the halfway point on. On that high groove he was really, really strong. Just depends if you have cars like that. McMurray was strong, too. When I saw McMurray strong, I expected Kyle was going to be pretty strong, too. I like multi groove racetracks when you can run on all these different lanes. But we've also seen that before where that didn't really change all the competitiveness or passing. I think for the most part those restarts are what made it really, really exciting. Having multiple restarts allowed guys to run two, three, four wide at times, which made it very exciting."

"I would have liked to have started on the outside lane on that restart that Keselowski did. I mean, his car turns so good on restarts. We've seen it all year long. They get up and go fast. Prior to that, Kyle had it, I had third wrapped up, Keselowski was fading. I kind of got settled in there at that point that it might be a third place day for us. I wasn't going to be disappointed seeing him win. Then it all changed there just because of a restart. I kind of got to Kyle's bumper there. I was just trying to keep guys from taking me three wide, then the outside lane kind of came. That got Kevin and Kyle side by side. They were swapping back and forth. Keselowski, he drove into the middle lane where there was some clean air. I was more surprised he got up in front of Kyle. For us, if we could have passed these guys like Keselowski did. The outside lane certainly would have secured some things up for us. It just seemed to work a little bit better on the restarts if you could get to the outside of that guy you're racing. We're going to certainly debrief and evaluate what happened here today. This is a unique track. It's very rough here. The tires are pretty good. They don't wear out much. But you have multiple grooves. We're going to go through everything we can to try to see what our competitors are doing, what we can do to be better, make sure that happens in the next race."

Prepped For The Chase
FEDERATED AUTO 400 - Richmond International Raceway. Finish: 2nd

Brad Keselowski dominated the Federated Auto Parts 400 leading 383 out of 400 laps en route to the victory. Jeff Gordon finished 2nd at Richmond for his third runner-up finish in the last 5 Richmond races.

Gordon started 2nd and ran behind race leader Brad Keselowski for the first 30 laps before Kevin Harvick passed for position. He came to pit road in 3rd for the competition caution on lap 50. He dropped to 5th after the restart and settled into the spot for the next 40 laps. He took 4th from Jamie McMurray on lap 88 and ran in that spot at the 100-lap mark. A debris caution on lap 125 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon gained two spots on pit road and restarted in 2nd place. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 2nd place behind Keselowski by more than 3 seconds. He came to pit road for a four-tire change on lap 232. Following stops, Gordon ran 4th behind Keselowski, Harvick and Clint Bowyer. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 261 and brought pit stops. Gordon restarted in 4th place following the stops. He took 3rd from Harvick on lap 290.

With 83 to go, Gordon moved into the runner-up spot ahead of Bowyer. The caution waved on lap 329 when a spectator attempted to climb over the catchfence in turn 4. The leaders came to pit road with Keselowski edging ahead of Gordon at pit exit. Keselowski pulled out to nearly a 2-second lead with 50 laps to go. As the laps wound down, Keselowski kept a consistent 2-second lead over Gordon and claimed the victory.

Turning point
The field was distantly behind Brad Keselowski for the balance of the night. Gordon struggled at times with the tires.

JG's comments
"I'm very confident [for the Chase] because we've got such a great race team. I'm so proud of Alan and all of our engineers and everybody on this team. Tonight was another one of those efforts where I didn't feel that we had a car that could compete with Brad at certain portions of the night. We just never gave up on it. We had great pit stops, great adjustments. There at the end we were closing on him. So, it wasn't a win, but still great momentum to carry into the Chase. It's been a heck of a year. Our fans -- the way they've embraced this season has been extremely motivating. I know how proud they are. We're proud of the effort and the results that we're getting this year. 10 more weeks. We've got to get it done and this team is ready to do that."

"Sometimes it takes time to build your chemistry. I've always enjoyed Alan as a person and as a crew chief. We've clicked from the beginning. But I don't know if we ever had the chemistry or been in sync like we are right now. Communication is really solid. I believe 100 percent in him. He believes 100 percent in me. That's trickling down through the whole team. That's why we can go through a tough practice like we did yesterday, and rebound and come back and have a solid night. We can go through a blown left front tire like we had in Atlanta and fight back to get back on the lead lap. This is the team I want to go into battle with for the next 10 weeks. It's because of how in sync and the chemistry we have. It's a team that really believes in one another. You can't ask for more than that."

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