October 2005 Random News

Halloween Night
NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 31)- - Jeff Gordon attended Heidi Klum's Halloween party on Monday night in New York City. The annual event has been one of the highest-attended celebrity Halloween galas in the city. The sixth annual event was held at Happy Valley on East 27th St. Gordon, dressed as a nightstand, attended with girlfriend Ingrid Vandebosch, who donned a Daisy Duke outfit. Also in attendance were Seal, Jason Biggs, Ice-T, Shannon Miller, Ines Rivero, who set pulses racing in a Catwoman one-piece, and her fellow runway queen Theodora Richards, whose eye-popping pink affair left some of the guests wondering what she was supposed to be.

Priming The Pump For 2006
HAMPTON, GA. (October 31)- - Jeff Gordon's 2006 season unofficially began when the checkered flag waved at Richmond in early September, thus ending his title hopes for the season. The team has increased their testing schedule and worked on the bodies of the cars-- something they would have been reluctant to do if Gordon had qualified for the season ending 'chase for the championship.' After a few lackluster performances, Gordon broke through with a victory at Martinsville Speedway. He followed that up with a strong test session at Texas Motor Speedway in the middle of the week. For the weekend he headed to Atlanta Motor Speedway looking to improve on his intermediate track program. A runner-up finish in the Bass Pro/MBNA 500 accelerated his hopes for a successful 2006 season. Gordon started 24th but quickly made his way into the top-10 by lap 50. He remained in the top-10 for the balance of the afternoon, though he never led a lap. By the halfway point he cemented his way into the top-five-- a rare occurence for Gordon on an intermediate track in 2005. As the laps wound down he took the second spot from Dale Earnhardt Jr. but ran out of time as Carl Edwards won his third race of the season. "It's been a long time since we've had fun on a 1.5-mile race track," Gordon said. "So it feels great. The truth for us on 1.5-mile tracks is going to be next week at Texas because the grip level is a lot different. It's a lot different here. This one really took the tires. That one doesn't really tear up the tires too bad. It's more about aerodynamics. But we had a lot of fun out there today. We were catching them for a little while, and then I just got too loose. We got a little bit behind on that pit stop. We had a tire come back out of the box and so we were fortunate just to be able to come out in the top five. The car was so good on new tires that we shot right up there. But unfortunately Carl Edwards drove a great race and that team obviously has their act together for him winning both races this year."

Back To School
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 30)- - The Jeff Gordon Racing School officially kicked off with an evening at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, North Carolina on October 25. The school's namesake spent a few hours at the track, providing guests with a ride around the 1.5-mile track. The school -- which is more a fantasy camp than real driving school -- will give fans a chance to see how tight a line they can hold while muscling an 800-horsepower Cup racer around a speedway. Those who lack a lead foot can ride along as passengers with one of the school's instructors. "A lot of people, in their lifetime, they want to experience what it's like to go 170, 180 mph behind the wheel of a race car," Gordon said, having just taken girlfriend Ingrid Vandebosch and Vinny DeMartino, of "Orange County Choppers" fame, for spins around the track. Most of the students can choose from packages ranging from $75 for an eight-lap ride-along to $3,000 for a one and a half day session with 70 laps of driving. Gordon attended a driving school run by former NASCAR champion Buck Baker in 1990, which helped boost his career at an early stage. "I think that if it hadn't been for me going to a driving school, I don't think I would have made it as far as I did and certainly would have taken a lot longer to get into the Busch series," Gordon said. "Buck introduced me to somebody and the next thing I knew I was going off to race in Busch races." The racing school will be held on select days at Charlotte to allow fans a chance to drive a regulation Nextel Cup stock car. The school plans to expand in 2006, with visits to the speedways of Atlanta, Kansas City, Texas, Kentucky, and Homestead. For more information, visit the Jeff Gordon Racing School.

Jeff Wins At Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (October 23)- - The master of Martinsville Speedway struck again for his 7th win at the track. Jeff Gordon's 73rd career victory came in a caution-filled event that set a record with 19 yellow flags. Gordon used pit strategy to his advantage by staying on the track during a late race caution period to take the lead he would not relinquish. Gordon started 15th and worked his way up to the top-five by lap 60. He ran in the top-10 for the balance of the day, losing spots mainly due to other driver's pit strategy. Despite running in the top-five, Gordon was unable to challenge race leader Tony Stewart for the top spot due to track position. He was running in 4th place when the caution came on lap 348. Gordon decided to stay on the track to put his car in clean air at the front. As it turned out, that's all he needed. He pulled away with a clear race track, and beat Stewart and Jimmie Johnson off pit road on lap 439. From there, Gordon held off the duo on a series of late race restarts to claim the win. Despite one of the most erratic seasons of his racing career, Gordon swept both events at Martinsville in 2005. But more than that, he scored a victory on an emotional weekend for his racing organization. One year ago, a plane carrying 10 members of the Hendrick Motorsports and racing family crashed near Martinsville. HMS founder Rick Hendrick lost his son, brother, two nieces, and several key members of the organization in the crash. "It's been awhile," Gordon said in victory lane. "What a great feeling. I'm so proud of Steve Letarte. He made the call that won this race. But this one here is for all those who were lost a year ago. They're still a major part of our thoughts and prayers. I know Rick and Linda are back home watching. I hope you're enjoying this one, we certainly are. I'm so proud of this race team." The victory was the first for crew chief Steve Letarte in his sixth race calling the shots for Gordon. "The guys never gave up all year," Letarte said. "Jeff came here and drove and absolutely perfect race. I can't thank Mr. Hendrick enough for the opportunity. The team we have is so strong. I just can't wait for next year."

Perks Of The Job
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 22)- - There are several perks to being the winningest active driver for the Chevrolet brand. Jeff Gordon brought 4 Cup championships to the manufacturer from 1995-2001. He's also accumulated 72 career victories for Chevrolet. He doesn't merely drive a race car, he drives the "DuPont Chevrolet." A phrase he's repeated ad nauseum since 1993. When the manufacturer offered Gordon the chance to test drive a new Corvette Z06 at the Road Atlanta circuit, he jumped at the chance. The test session was broadcast on Saturday, October 22 on the Speed Channel.

No Time To Kill
MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (October 17)- - While discussing the off-season roster moves of the Miami Heat, Shaquille O'Neal invoked the name of a popular race car driver. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Heat revamped their roster hoping to take the next step toward an NBA championship. Despite injuries to their two best players during the playoffs, the Heat came within one victory of the NBA Finals. But to stay the same is to fall behind. Heat President Pat Riley added Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, Jason Williams, James Posey, and Jason Kapono to the already talented roster that includes O'Neal and Dwayne Wade. "Pat is what I will become if I become a general manager," O'Neal said. "Got to get it done now... can't wait. I call it the Jeff Gordon prophecy. Jeff Gordon changes his car every race he loses."

Last Worthless Evening
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 15)- - In the second half of 2005, Jeff Gordon has gotten all too familiar with the various outer walls at racetracks across America. His latest acquaintance was the frontstretch wall at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Gordon was running 6th on lap 46 of the UAW-GM 500, just behind the side-by-side duel between Casey Mears and Bobby Labonte. Exiting turn four, Gordon flattened the right side of the DuPont Chevrolet after drifting up into the wall due to draft ahead of him. The crew made repairs in the garage area and Gordon returned to the track nearly 100 laps down. He rode around to move up four spots due to attrition and finished 38th, recording his 9th DNF of the season. Up until the wall contact, Gordon seemed to be having a steady night. He battled a slight handling problem, but was able to make up ground on track. He started 10th and worked his way up to 7th on lap 8. However, when he tried to pass Mears on the inside, the car got loose and Gordon was passed on the high line. He dropped to 12th and made his way up to 8th before a competition caution on lap 30. Gordon came off pit road in 9th and had moved to 6th before his night effectively ended on lap 46. "It's just that the cars are going so fast out there," Gordon said. "Aero dynamics plays such a role that it just took all the aero right off the front of my car and right into the wall." Gordon's early exit preceded a night of carnage as blown tires became commonplace on the 1.5-mile speedway. More than half the field suffered tire problems during the course of the evening. At the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson passed Joe Nemechek with 8 laps remaining to win his fourth consecutive race at the track. With the victory, Johnson moved into a tie for the points lead with Tony Stewart. The resident leader of the lost and found.

Smoke Out '06
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 13)- - Nicorette gum will serve as the primary sponsor on Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolet for two events in 2006. The stop-smoking gum product also will be an associate sponsor all year for Gordon's team. The white and green Nicorette logo adorned Casey Mears' car in limited events during 2005. "I'm happy to be a part of educating NASCAR fans about quitting smoking," Gordon said. "Just like in racing, if you want to win at quitting, you need the right support. Nicorette helps smokers who want to quit the same way my crew supports me on the track." Gordon will drive two different Nicorette schemes in 2006. "We've been very impressed by the various programs developed to connect with NASCAR fans during Nicorette's first year as a sponsor," said Marshall Carlson, general manager of Hendrick Motorsports. "In the coming months, we'll also be working with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare to help everyone in our organization who wants to quit smoking." GlaxoSmithKline, the parent company of Nicorette, has a "Winners' Circle" display at NASCAR tracks where counselors talk with race fans about quitting smoking. Nicorette's sponsorship of the #24 Chevrolet is one aspect of a broad scope of activities for GSK Consumer Healthcare which began in 2005 with an associate sponsorship on Casey Mears' car.

School Auction For A Good Cause
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 11)- - The Jeff Gordon Racing School gave race fans the opportunity to bid on an eBay auction in celebration of its upcoming grand opening at the Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 25. All proceeds from the auction benefited The Jeff Gordon Foundation. Items up for bid included driving eight laps in a Cup car, riding three laps in a Cup car, or simply attending the grand opening which gives fans an opportunity to meet the four-time champion. The auction ended on October 10 and raised $3700 for the three items.

Something To Build On
KANSAS CITY, KS. (October 9)- - It wasn't a victory, or even a top-five finish, but it was the kind of day that Jeff Gordon could sense signs of progress. Gordon's 10th place finish in the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway was his first top-10 finish on a superspeedway since Indianapolis in early August. Gordon started third and quickly challenged Matt Kenseth for the race lead on lap 2. However, that was the closest he came to leading all day. He slipped to 3rd on lap 12 and dropped to 5th on lap 25. Gordon ran in the lower half of the top-10 during the mid-stages of the race. He tried the outside line after a restart on lap 128 and slipped to 17th while battling a loose handling car. Gordon regrouped to move up to 13th by lap 150. The final pit stop came under caution on lap 216. He restarted in 13th and steadily worked around race traffic. He passed Brian Vickers to move into the top-10 with 2 laps to go. With the finish, Gordon moved up to 14th in the series standings. "We were about an 8th or 10th place car," Gordon said. "Certainly not a top-5 or win where we need to be, but it's the right direction. A top-10 -- oh man, I hadn't had a top 10 on a speedway like a 1.5-mile track in a long, long time. We adjusted on it. I was real happy with all the changes we made and I felt like we made improvements throughout the day. Unfortunately we just lost track position and could never get it back. We weren't good enough for those guys up there in the top four or five, but we were definitely capable of pulling off something a little bit better than where we were. The biggest thing is just getting me comfortable so I can get aggressive and we can get aggressive with the set-ups. I need something to lean on and feel secure and be able to jump back in that throttle and carry that corner speed. That's what makes fast race cars and eventually it can win races. We're working a little bit with the pit crew and communication between (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and myself. Everything is going in the right direction. It's a slow process. It's not going to happen over night. We know that. But we brought a little bit different car here and thought it was better than what we've had and know what direction we think we want to go in. And we just hope that over the next several weeks we just gradually start seeing improvements."

Passing The Atlanta Test
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 6)- - Jeff Gordon stopped by Atlanta Motor Speedway for a test session on October 5. Gordon's fastest unofficial lap time was 29.87 seconds at 185.604 mph. "We're here doing a lot of testing for not just Atlanta," Gordon said. "Atlanta is just a good, high speed track where we can try a bunch of different aero packages that will hopefully help us at a lot of tracks that we go ton." The track has been repaired since sustaining tornado damage in July. “Visually, looking around, I’m seeing a few changes,” Gordon said. “You can tell they have done an awesome job getting it back to where it was before the storm. By the time we get here for the race, I imagine it will look like what it did before the tornado. The racing surface wasn’t touched at all from the tornado, so from a driver’s standpoint, everything is the same as usual.” Gordon's performances on the 1.5-mile tracks have been erratic at best in 2005. He's posted top-10 finishes at Las Vegas and Kansas, but struggled with handling problems at Texas and Chicago-- tracks similar in design to Atlanta. In the spring race at the track, he started deep in the field and was caught up in an opening lap crash.

Another Week, Another Wreck
TALLADEGA, AL. (October 3)- - Jeff Gordon's strategy for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was altered on lap 20 when his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson was involved in a multi-car wreck in turn two. Johnson is the only HMS driver with a chance to win the season championship. Gordon, who was running in the top ten, intentionally dropped to the rear of the field on the restart to provide Johnson with drafting help. He drafted with Johnson for five laps before a cut tire from a damaged fender sent Johnson to pit road. On the restart, Gordon moved through the pack and was up to 19th on lap 41. He drafted with Brian Vickers up to 7th place on lap 45. Gordon went to the low line and dropped back through the field on lap 53 and once again drafted with Johnson. Following a caution flag on lap 61, Johnson changed two tires and was near the front of the pack. However, the field began zooming past the damaged Lowe's Chevrolet. Gordon pulled out of line and went low to help Johnson. The decision to push Johnson along put Gordon in harm's way on lap 65 when Ryan Newman spun Casey Mears in the trioval. Gordon slid sideways and made hard contact with the outside wall, ending his day with a 37th place finish and his 8th DNF of the season. It is Gordon's third finish of 30th or worse in the past four races. "I saw a lot of bump drafting in the tri-oval and in the corners," Gordon said. "The cars are so equal and driving good so a lot of guys are blocking, and that's what you have to do. It prevents guys from coming up the middle. I think bump drafting is ridiculous and I'd hope we can learn a lesson from this."

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