October News

Jeff Wins At Martinsville
GOODY'S 500 - Martinsville Speedway. Finish: WIN

In a day that stretched into night and a race marred by mayhem, Gordon passed AJ Allmendinger with 22 laps to go to win the Goody's 500 on the sport's most historic track. With the victory, Gordon's very first of his final season, he is now guaranteed to be one of four racers who will compete for a championship in Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22. It was his 9th victory at Martinsville and 93rd of his career.

In an atmosphere Gordon described as "surreal," he was greeted in Victory Lane by friends and rivals, loudly cheered by the thousands of race fans who stayed to watch him bask in his moment of victory.

"Oh my gosh, I didn't think they could get any better, but to win here at Martinsville in front of this crowd that stuck around," said Gordon. "I tell you there's nothing better than crossing the finish line and have that kind of reaction from the crowd. That reaction from my team, and to have my family come up ... this is unbelievable. I feel like I'm dreaming right now. I'm afraid I'm going to wake up and this is not going to be true. We were just trying to do our best throughout the whole day."

Crew chief Alan Gustafson, who has been through a lot of good and bad with Gordon, agreed with his driver's gratitude of the fan appreciation. Last week, Gordon won the pole at Talladega; this week the race. Both times, it was to thunderous applause.

"We qualify on the pole, you can just hear the place (Talladega) erupt," said Gustafson. "I don't know how to describe the sensation. It's just an amazing feeling. Then here the same way. You can hear the crowd. You don't even have to really know what's going on. You can hear the crowd and you can kind of figure it out.

"To me that's one of the most satisfying things. It makes you feel really good. It makes you feel like you accomplished something that's really special, to have the reaction from the crowd."

The reactions of Gordon and Gustafson are understandable. On the whole, this has been a down year for Hendrick Motorsports, the team Gordon has driven for his entire career. Gordon is the lone Hendrick driver still left in the Chase and the Martinsville victory was the first for the team since July Fourth weekend, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Talladega.

For most of the year, Gordon and Hendrick were eclipsed first by Joe Gibbs Racing, which has won 13 of 33 races, and then by Team Penske, which had Joey Logano win three in a row coming into Martinsville.

The Penske duo led 350 of 500 laps on Sunday before both drivers crashed Brad Keselowski accidentally and Logano after getting run over by Matt Kenseth. Once they were out, the race became Gordon's to win.

Afterward, Gordon was in disbelief. "It was just unreal. I mean that: unreal. I couldn't believe that. I thought this could not be happening," Gordon said. "I mean, it's not that unusual for us to win a Martinsville race. That's not what I'm talking about. It's to be able to do it when so much is at stake, when you know that this is how you get to Homestead, to be one of those final four.

"For us to be a team that nobody, nobody, had picked to be able to make it to Homestead, I love that we just keep proving them wrong and finding a way to move on." That he has. All the way to NASCAR's biggest stage. In three weeks, we'll see what he does when he gets there.

Southern Comfort Zone
CAMPING WOLRD 500 - Talladega Superspeedway. Finish: 3rd

Jeff Gordon finished 3rd at Talladega to advance to Round 3 of the NASCAR Chase. Gordon ran in the top-10 for most of the event, and tied his best finish of the 2015 season. He posted top-10 finishes in all 3 races in Round 2.

Gordon started on the pole and led the opening 8 laps before Dale Earnhardt Jr moved to the top spot. He dropped to 4th on the outside line on lap 10, before working with Joey Logano in a draft to move to 3rd. On lap 20, he moved to 2nd behind Earnhardt Jr in a single line with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 41. He ran 5th on lap 44 on the outside line. Gordon ran there for the next 25 laps before being shuffled to 10th on lap 70. He elected to play it safe and dropped to 15th on lap 77, and came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 81. Gordon ran 8th at the halfway point.

On lap 105, he drafted with Kevin Harvick into the top-5. He ran 2nd on lap 120 when a cycle of green flag stops began. Gordon ran 5th on lap 125 in a single file draft. The first caution waved on lap 132 for Justin Allgaier's engine. After a 2-tire change, Gordon restarted 4th on lap 139. With 40 to go, he ran in 10th place on the outside line. Five laps later he entered the top-5 in a draft with Jimmie Johnson. With 20 to go, Gordon ran 8th on the inside. He came to pit road for a gas only stop with 18 to go, and ran 10th in a single file line with 14 to go. With 5 to go, he drafted up to 5th place by pushing his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jamie McMurray's blown engine brought out the caution with 4 to go to set up a green/white/checkered finish.

Gordon restarted 4th but the start was called off after Jimmie Johnson was spun prior to the start/finish line. The field regrouped for a second attempt with Gordon lined up in 4th behind Joey Logano on the outside line. Gordon was scored 3rd as drivers began wrecking just after the green flag waved. Gordon advanced to Round 3 of the NASCAR Chase.

JG's comments
"Talladega can surprise you at any time. I actually had a lot of fun out there. We had an awesome car. It was so much fun battling up front, even if we got shuffled back a little bit I was able to drive up through there. I was looking forward to working with Dale Jr there at the end. When those guys swapped, I was like, 'Man, this is going to be tough.' I thought maybe my only chance was splitting Joey Logano, getting inside of him, getting 3-wide and maybe shuffling him out. I had no idea about all the crazy stuff behind me. I know the first green/white/checkered restart, I kind of misjudged it and I nailed the 22 and almost spun him out. Then they started stacking up behind us. So, crazy...absolutely crazy. But what a relief. I know my wife sitting at home was very relieved as well. We're in. This season's been a crazy season for us. Since the Chase started, the attitude of this team, the momentum, and execution. The things we weren't doing earlier in the year, we're doing them all right now at the right time. Watch out, we've got something for them these next 3 or 4 races."

The Kansas Grind
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 - Kansas Speedway. Finish: 10th

Jeff Gordon posted a 10th place finish at Kansas Speedway and moved to 7th in the NASCAR points standings, with a 7 point gap over the Chase cutoff line with one race remaining in Round 2.

Gordon started 6th and struggled at the outset as he dropped to 11th by lap 7. He slipped to 12th by lap 20. The first caution waved on lap 29 for JJ Yeley's crash. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 15th place. Handling issues persisted as Gordon fell back to 19th by lap 55. On the next round of caution flag stops, chassis adjustments were made with Gordon restarting 25th on lap 70. He gained two spots over the next 20 laps to run 23rd on lap 90. Kyle Larson's spin on lap 109 brought out the caution. Gordon had to make a second pit stop under the caution for loose lug nuts and restarted in 23rd place. At the halfway point, Gordon re-entered the top-20. The next caution came on lap 155 for Austin Dillon's cut tire. Gordon gained 4 spots on pit road and restarted in 16th place.

He entered the top-15 on lap 165 prior to a caution for Clint Bowyer's crash. Gordon came to pit road for additional adjustments and restarted in 12th place. He moved to 11th with 80 to go when Brad Keselowski hit the wall. Gordon slipped back to 12th when Ryan Blaney passed a few laps later. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop with 49 to go and cycled through in 12th place. The next caution waved on lap 244 for Justin Allgaier's wall contact. With just 12 cars on the lead lap at the time, Gordon came to pit road. He restarted in 12th with 19 laps to go. The next caution came with 4 laps to go when Joey Logano spun Matt Kenseth while battling for the lead. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 10th place for the green/white/checkered, and that's where he came across the line to complete the event. JG's comments:
"We just grind it out. I'm extremely proud of the team for never giving up, fighting so hard, having solid pit stops, and trying as hard as we could. We qualified really well and it had me optimistic, but, boy, we really struggled in [Saturday] practice. We were hoping today we would hit on something, but we just never did. We really struggled with the front grip. Every time we tried to get it to turn, we didn't have much rear grip. It was a struggle. We held onto the lead lap -- which I don't know how -- but we did. At the end we were able to take 2 tires and had a pretty good restart. I thought we had the 2 car at the line, but they said he beat us. Still, all in all, a never give up effort. Somehow we pulled off a top-10."

"Every point means something, it just doesn't mean anything as far as our approach for Talladega next week. I'm confident in our race cars and our race team. I'm excited about our chances of actually winning there. I just don't like the chances of being in a wreck, because they're usually high. But we're going to approach it where we're going to be aggressive and race hard. We'll see where the points end up."

Deeper Meaning
BANK OF AMERICA 500 - Charlotte Motor Speedway. Finish: 8th

Jeff Gordon began the second round of the NASCAR Chase with an 8th place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gordon struggled at the outset with handling, but improved after the halfway point by racing his way into the top-10. He moved to 7th in the NASCAR standings, +8 over the Chase cutoff with 2 races remaining in the second round.

Gordon was running between 11th-15th at Charlotte before Karsyn came to watch the race on the couch. She gave me a very special bear as a gift. As I blinked away tears, Jeff gained three spots and finished 8th. I've probably watched 1,000 NASCAR races. This one was by far the most memorable for reasons well beyond the finishing order.

Chase Advancement
AAA 400 - Dover International Speedway. Finish: 12th

Jeff Gordon finished 12th at Dover International Speedway and advanced to the next round of the NASCAR Chase. Gordon ran in the top-10 for the balance of the day, but lost spots in the closing laps. He advanced by a mere 2 points over the final cut off line in the opening round.

Gordon started 10th and dropped to 12th just before a caution for Jeb Burton's spin on lap 3. He used the outside line to his advantage on the restart to re-enter the top-10. He advanced to 9th by lap 15, but dropped a spot to Kyle Busch on lap 20. He held the 10th spot until the competition caution on lap 40. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 8th place. He ran 6th on lap 50 after taking a spot from Jamie McMurray. He slipped to 7th when Kurt Busch went by on lap 70, and fell to 8th when Dale Earnhardt Jr passed on lap 105. A debris caution on lap 111 brought pit stops. Gordon exited pit road in 12th place after a slow entry to his stall. He ran 10th when the next caution came on lap 191 for Jeb Burton's crash. Gordon gained a spot on the restart and ran 9th when a debris caution brought pit stops on lap 232. Gordon opted for four tires and restarted in 11th.

After the restart, Gordon re-entered the top-10 and eventually took 9th from Matt Kenseth on lap 283. He took 8th from Kyle Larson at the 300-lap mark. A caution for AJ Allmendinger's spin on lap 311 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon restarted in 10th place on lap 316. He advanced to 9th prior to a caution with 46 to go for Brett Moffitt's wall contact. Gordon restarted 9th after a four-tire change. A caution for Landon Cassill's engine with 29 to go slowed the field. Gordon stayed out and restarted 9th. He lost spots in the final laps and came across the line in 12th place. Gordon advanced to Round 2 of the Chase by a mere 2 points over the cut off line.

JG's comments
"I was freaking out there at the end. We were pretty solid in the top-10 all day long. I'm really proud of this team and what they've accomplished this year. We've gone through a lot and it hasn't been pretty. That's kind of the way today was. We knew we needed to be top-10, 11th, maybe 12th if we were lucky. We did that until the end. The caution came out and people swapped up their strategy. We just got ate up on the restart and were falling back. I didn't know what was going to happen. It wasn't easy, but I'm real proud of this entire team. Now we reset and see what we can do in the next three races."

"We definitely gained some positives from this round. I thought our performance at Chicago was fantastic. I'm looking forward to the next 1.5-mile track we can get on, which is Charlotte. Hopefully we can have a similar kind of performance, but with the results I think this team is capable of."

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