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Tale Of Two Races
Tums 500. Martinsville Speedway: Finish: 3rd

Rewind: The Tums 500 at Martinsville Speedway was a tale of two races for Jeff Gordon. He sustained damage in a multi-car incident on lap 11, and restarted at the tail end of the lead lap due to a later pit road penalty. However, his miscues occurred in the first 200 laps of the 500 lap event. Gordon used pit road position and tactics to gain track position and took the race lead shortly after the halfway point. Gordon led until lap 320 when Danny Hamlin took the top spot. Gordon dropped to 3rd after losing a spot to Jimmie Johnson on pit road during a caution period on lap 362. On the restart, Gordon moved ahead of Johnson and took the lead from Hamlin entering turn three. A caution with 123 laps to go brought the field to pit road. Gordon exited in 2nd place after Kevin Harvick opted for two tires.

A caution flag with 42 laps to go resulted in Johnson staying on the track as the leader, with nearly every other lead lap car hitting pit road. Gordon restarted in 7th place with 39 laps to go. Gordon moved to 5th with 36 laps to go before a multi-car incident involving Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. On the restart with 27 laps to go, Gordon moved into 4th place before a caution for Ryan Newman's spin. Gordon dropped to 5th on the ensuing restart, but regained the spot from Dale Earnhardt Jr with 17 laps to go. Gordon took the 3rd position before a caution for Brian Vickers spin with 8 laps to go. On the restart with 3 laps to go, Gordon looked to the inside of Johnson, but was unable to take the spot. He came across the line in 3rd place -- his 13th top-5 finish in the last 14 races at Martinsville. Gordon remained 10th in the series standings.

Road Ahead: The Texas race weekend is next on the Cup series agenda. More importantly, I'll be in Charlotte next weekend to lead The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation team in the Charlotte CureSearch Walk in Freedom Park on November 5.

JG's comments

WHAT A COMEBACK FOR YOU TODAY SINCE EARLY ON, YOU WERE MIRED DEEP IN THE FIELD
"Yeah, I got caught up in that incident early on. It looked like Dale Earnhardt Jr. got into the curb a little bit getting into (Turn) 1 and we just had nowhere to go. I probably should have went low, but I chose to get out of the way of the guys behind me and I center-punched him. We're pretty lucky. That right-front brake duct was tore up pretty good and at this place, cooling those brakes is pretty important. And I beat it up. I ran it as hard as I possibly could to get our car back to the front. It was pretty fun coming up through there and getting up to the front and leading. It just seemed like the last couple of runs just didnít quite go our way. So we came home third. It was a nice top five for us."

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS TODAY AND THE RACING?
"It was crazy, absolutely crazy, I hate we got caught up in that incident early with my teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked like he got the curb, and I choose to go high and I should have gone low, but great effort by this team, they fixed the nose, I was more worried about our brake ducts, over heating the right front and I beat it up, I ran it hard to get back up there and it held up so I am pretty happy with that. The last two runs, I don't know if it was just the adjustments we made or what, we just kind of lost the edge that we had at one time especially on the short runs, I really did not have much for those guys there at the end and we needed more green flag runs than we did, so third is great. We came so close to getting win #200 for Rick Hendrick, I thought Jimmie Johnson had it there for a second, but great effort by Tony Stewart, when things get tough you have to watch out for that guy, and he really put one on them. I didn't think he could pass Jimmie on the outside."


Hung Out To Dry
Good Sam 500. Talladega Superspeedway: Finish: 27th

Rewind: Clint Bowyer edged Jeff Burton at the finish line to win the Good Sam 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Bowyer eased around his Richard Childress Racing teammate in the tri-oval coming to the finish. Jeff Gordon's day took a turn for the worse with 9 laps to go when he lost his drafting partner Mark Martin in a wreck. From there, Gordon was hung out to dry with 2 laps to go and finished 27th. It was Gordon's 5th finish of 20th or worse in the 7 Chase races.

Gordon started 5th and immediately dropped to the inside to hook up in a draft with Mark Martin. The duo dropped to the rear of the field and ran 37th/38th by lap 4. They moved up to 31st/32nd on lap 20. A debris caution on lap 24 brought the field to pit road. When the green flag waved, Gordon once again found Martin and ran in 25th on lap 40. The second caution waved on lap 67 for Joey Logano's cut tire, while the third came on lap 80 for Ryan Newman's spin. During the green flag laps, Gordon remained toward the rear of the field in a draft with Martin. A crash on lap 103 triggered by Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allemdinger collected Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Juan Pablo Montoya, among others.

With 70 laps to go, Gordon and Martin moved into the top-20. Gordon stayed out under caution with 65 laps to go and led a lap before pitting. The pair moved back into the top-20 with 50 to go, and moved into 16th/17th with 45 to go. Andy Lally's crash with 29 laps to go brought out the caution and the field pitted for the final time. With 18 to go, Gordon and Martin ran nose to tail with their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon moved to the outside with 16 to go with a push from Martin. With 15 to go, Bobby Labonte spun off of Michael Waltrip's bump draft and collected Kurt Busch in a turn two wreck. The green flag waved with 10 laps to go with Gordon in 15th place. Gordon moved to the middle and sliced into the top-10 with 9 to go. With 8 laps to go, Martin got loose in the corner and collected Regan Smith. The left front damage on Martin's car eliminated him as a drafting partner for Gordon, who narrowly missed being taken out by Smith's car after it came across the track.

On the restart with 2 laps to go, Gordon was pushed ahead by Trevor Bayne. Gordon moved high and was left out of the draft as Matt Kenseth pushed Bayne ahead. Gordon, without a drafting partner, fell to 20th at the white flag. He crossed the line distantly behind in 27th place.

Road Ahead: The series makes its annual fall visit to Martinsville Speedway. Over the years, Martinsville has been one of Gordon's most successful venues. In 37 career starts, he has 7 wins and 30 top-10 finishes.

JG's comments

ON THE PUSHING ISSUE WITH TREVOR BAYNE AT THE END OF THE RACE
"We worked together pretty well in February; him pushing me and me pushing him. We worked together well. But I think everybody knew coming into the weekend, the Fords made it very clear about what they were doing in working with one another and helping one another out and all those things. So I didn't... expect him to commit to me on the radio. I expected him to say, 'Man, I'm sorry; I can't.' And when he said, 'Yeah, I'm pushing you; we're good,' I believed him. But I think they had a different plan."

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RCR TEAMMATES SPLITTING UP THERE AT THE END OF THE RACE AND CLINT BOWYER AND JEFF BURTON RACING FOR THE WIN?
"You know, I don't think there's a guy in this garage area that's a teammate in a situation like that where if he thought he could get to the finish line first, without costing both of them the win, is he going to take that opportunity? I've run that through my head many times. I'm sure many other guys have. We're programmed to go for the win. And if you see that checkered flag, when youíre a racer, youíre going for it."

ON THE RACE
"We lost Mark (Martin) as our partner in that last wreck and he got a piece of it. We had to make a decision whether to keep our good track position and work with somebody around us and we made that decision to do that. Unfortunately it cost us and we fell way back by not having Mark."

DO YOU THINK YOU WERE A PRODUCT OF ANY LATE-RACE FORD DIRECTIVE FROM TREVOR BAYNE'S CAMP?
"Well I just find it odd. We talked on the radio a good bit and agreed that he was going to push me. I came on there and I said, 'Hey, what's your deal? You got anybody you're working with?' And he said, 'No, man, I'm pushing you.' And I went off my radio and talked to my guys and went back to his radio and we talked through it and he said, 'Yep, yep, yep.' So, Trevor came over to me (after the race in the garage) and said 'Hey, it wasn't me; it wasn't me. That's what I'm being told to do.' But I'm surprised that somebody didnít come back over (the radio). I just think it could have been handled better. If somebody is going to screw you, you'd like them to say it to your face you know? Or, at least on the radio (laughs). I would have been fine with that but I'm sorry; I would have been totally fine with that and understood."

DID YOU TAKE HIM UNDER YOUR WING IN DAYTONA?
"Yeah, but politics play out sometimes. He feels terrible about it. Listen, at that point you work with anybody that you can when you lose your partner then youíre desperate to find somebody. I was going to go with Casey Mears, but Trevor lined up behind me and when he agreed to it and I said hey, we can't go with a better person than that. He's got a fast race car; we already have history of working well together and I thought it was a no-brainer. But I probably should have known better."

WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU SAW IN HIM AT DAYTONA THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH HIM?
"Yeah, he had a fast race car" (laughter).

WHEN YOU SAY HE CAME OVER AND TALKED TO YOU, WAS THAT AFTER THE RACE?
"Yeah, right here. He came over to the car after the race."

SO IS THAT TEAM ORDERS AND/OR MANUFACTURER ORDERS?
It would seem to me like thatís it."


First Snap Of A Last Straw
Bank of America 500. Charlotte Motor Speedway: Finish: 21st

Rewind: If the blown engine at Kansas Speedway provided a major obstacle in Jeff Gordon's championship drive, then a 21st place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway may have put him too far gone to be shot back. Gordon finished a lap down in 21st place after a chain reaction spin with less than 40 laps to go. He trails Carl Edwards by 66 points with just 5 races remaining.

Gordon started 23rd and moved into the top-20 with a pass on Regan Smith on lap 7. He remained in 20th before coming to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 46. He ran in 21st and was unable to gain ground before the first caution on lap 78. He restarted in 23rd, but dropped four spots due to tight handling and ran 27th on lap 90. Gordon cycled through a green flag pit sequence on lap 122 and ran 24th. A debris caution on lap 146 brought the field to pit road. A tire violation sent Gordon to 26th for the restart. He steadily began moving forward and took 21st place on lap 175. After cycling through a round of green flag pit stops, Gordon ran 22nd on lap 200. He moved into the top-20 on lap 203 with a pass on Brad Keselowski.

With 96 laps to go, Trevor Bayne stopped on the track during a cycle of green flag pit stops. Gordon moved up to 13th and restarted inside the top-15 for the first time all night. Gordon caught a break with 47 laps to go when he stayed on the track during a green flag pit sequence and the caution waved for Dave Blaney's engine. Gordon pitted under caution and restarted in 8th place with 43 laps to go. On the restart, Gordon was clipped by Kasey Kahne in a three-wide situation and spun coming off turn 2. Gordon limped to pit road and fell off the lead lap. After Greg Biffle hit the wall to bring out the caution with 25 laps to go, Gordon restarted in 22nd place. He moved up one spot and finished 21st. It was the first time Gordon finished off the lead lap in back to back races since Homestead (Nov 2010) and Daytona (Feb 2011).

"Wish we could do it over. Dammit, baby, dammit. We had it in the air and just couldn't land it" - Eric Church

Road Ahead: 500 miles of pairs tag team racing awaits at Talladega Superspeedway. Despite changes in the restrictor plate, the race is expected to mirror the spring race with drivers working in pairs to move to the front. Gordon has already stated he will spend the bulk of the event working with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin.


Power Outage
Hollywood Casino 400. Kansas Speedway: Finish: 34th

Rewind: In the span of 30 laps, Jeff Gordon's season effectively came crumbling apart due to a blown engine. Gordon ran in the top-5 for most of the event at Kansas Speedway, but was shuffled to 14th on a late race restart. He began smelling smoke in the car and pulled to pit road with a blown engine 30 laps later. Gordon dropped to 10th in the standings and trails by 47 points with just 6 races remaining.

Road Ahead: Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway looms on the calendar. Gordon has struggled at Charlotte in recent years, but the team has turned a corner on its intermediate track program and seemed poised for a strong effort.

JG's comments: "I started seeing smoke inside the car. We had a really bad restart there and got shuffled back. Our day was pretty much over anyway and we were going to finish maybe 15th or something. Right there I started what smelled like burning oil and I saw the oil temp start to come up and I felt like it was just a matter of time before it blew up. I've got to thank Quaker State because the thing lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. I don't know what happened but my oil temp was just pegged for shoot, 30 laps and I knew it was just a matter of time, but to last that long was pretty amazing. That restart Tony Stewart took me three wide, all the way down to the apron, and we were on old tires and that just ruined our day right there. He did what he had to do, it messed us up but right after that we start getting smoke, we thought it was tire smoke, but it wasn't it was under the hood, obviously it ended out day."


Balancing Act
AAA 400. Dover Speedway: Finish: 12th

Rewind: Jeff Gordon posted a 12th place finish in the AAA 400. He hasn't finished inside the top-10 in the last four races at Dover Speedway. Gordon faced an uphill struggle from the outset after starting 34th. He ran as high as 9th during the day, but was never a factor for the lead. He slipped to 9th in the series standings and trails the leaders by 19 points.

Gordon started 34th and gained six spots in the first 4 laps to move into 28th place. He gained four more spots and ran 24th on lap 10. By lap 17, he was on the cusp of the top-20 as he took a spot from Juan Pablo Montoya. Light rain slowed the field on lap 19 with Gordon in 20th place. At the competition caution on lap 40, Gordon ran 19th. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 26th place. He re-entered the top-20 on lap 70, and took 19th from Tony Stewart on lap 73. Gordon moved up tp 14th before a round of green flag pit stops on lap 112. After a 13-second stop, Gordon cycled through in 13th place. He took 12th from Mark Martin on lap 121 and closed in on Kevin Harvick for entry into the top-10. A caution for contact involving Casey Mears on lap 136 slowed the field. Gordon opted for two tires and restarted in 9th place. He dropped to 10th on lap 156 when Harvick went by. Battling a tight handling condition, he dropped to 12th by lap 160. A debris caution brought the field to pit road on lap 175. Gordon opted for four tires and restarted 13th. However, he struggled on the restart and dropped to 17th on lap 190. As the run progressed, Gordon moved back up to 14th on lap 210.

Gordon re-entered the top-10 on lap 235 with a move around Harvick. Following a round of green flag pit stops Gordon ran in 15th place. A caution flag for rain came on lap 255 and allowed Gordon to pit to top off the gas tank. He made his way to 14th on lap 280 and ran 13th when the caution waved on lap 300. With 85 laps to go, Gordon moved into 12th place. Mike Bliss' crash with 47 laps to go slowed the field and brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon advanced to 11th when Greg Biffle crashed with 39 laps to go. Gordon finished the race in 12th place and dropped to 9th in the series standings.

Road ahead: Kansas Speedway looms on the horizon -- following a mid-week jaunt to the Arizona desert for a test session at the revamped Phoenix International Raceway. "Kansas is a good track for us," Gordon said. "I'm very excited about going back there. I feel like Kansas is where we really turned the corner this year with our 1.5-mile program. We ran really strong there and I felt like we had a shot at winning that race."

JG's comments

YOU STARTED 34TH AND ENDED UP 12TH. YOUíRE NOT HAPPY WITH THAT BUT WHATíS UP WITH THOSE RESTARTS? WAS THAT THE PROBLEM TODAY?
"Yeah, thatís been a struggle for us here at this track this year. It's like there is no air in the front tires for the first eight laps and so we just donít have any speed to take off and then once we get going there, then we've got a great race car. It started off good and we worked our way forward pretty quick from that 34th position, which we were hoping to do; but once we got up there I made some mistakes today and we just didn't have it on the restarts. Other than that, we had a great fight from this race team. I'm so proud of the effort. We've just got to run better than that."

YOU LOST FOUR POSITIONS IN THE POINTS AND ARE NOW 9TH. GOING TO KANSAS, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUíLL HAVE THERE?
"Well, we gained on some and lost on some others. It's so tight right there; all the way back to 9th or 10th. Kansas is a great track for us. I can't wait to get there. If we can run the way we ran there earlier in the year, weíll make up a bunch of those points that we lost today."

YOU PRACTICED WELL BUT HAD A BAD QUALIFYING EFFORT. DID YOU HAVE A FEEL ON HOW TODAY WAS GOING TO GO?
"I knew it was going to be tough. It doesn't matter how good your race car is; well, unless youíre Carl Edwards. They had an awesome race car. But you've got to have position here. It wasn't so much the 34th. We actually took off there at the beginning and made some good passes but as the race went on, the restarts just killed us. The front tires just would not hook up. And we really struggled getting the car to roll through the center until we got 12 to 15 laps, and then we were just about as good as anybody. And so, it was a struggle. We finished 12th. We salvaged something out of it. It could have been a lot worse and we go on to Kansas."

HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE YOUR CHANCES AT THIS POINT? YOU OBVIOUSLY DONíT HAVE THE START YOU WANTED FOR THE CHASE
"No, I knew this was going to be a struggle for us. I think Chicago was a big surprise for us. I think had we finished good in Chicago, had the run that we had in New Hampshire, which we thought we could have; and then came here and had a 12th place finish, I'd be feeling pretty good about it. So, you know again, it all depends on the average finish. So that means we have to go and perform better. Every time we have a finish like this it means we've got to perform that much better in the next couple of races."

DID THE TRACK CHANGE DURING THE RACE?
"I thought it was pretty standard. I think the pace was a little bit higher than normal and the grip was a little bit better just because of the cool temperatures."

AND YOU FIGURED JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS GOING TO BE GOOD HERE
"I think had they not qualified as good as they had, it might have been a little bit tougher for them. But they qualified so good they were able to maintain that track position. You get Jimmie and that team a good qualifying effort here, they're going to be tough to beat and they were."



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