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Closing The Chapter
GOODY'S 500 - Martinsville Speedway. Finish: 6th

Jeff Gordon's 8-race return in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr concluded with a 6th place finish at Martinsville Speedway, which was his best finish of the 2016 season. It was his record-breaking 38th career top-10 finish at Martinsville.

Gordon started 10th and dropped to 11th in the opening laps as the outside line hindered his progress at the outset. The first caution came on lap 22 for Ricky Stenhouse's crash. Gordon stayed on the track during the pit stop sequence and restarted in 5th place. However, Gordon struggled on the older tires and dropped to 11th by lap 35. He ran 13th when the caution waved on lap 61 for David Ragan. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 14th place. Gordon got a strong restart and moved to 12th on lap 70.

He patiently worked traffic and moved into the top-10 on lap 120 with a move around Kyle Larson. A debris caution on lap 133 brought pit stops with Gordon restarting in 12th. However, the outside line hurt his efforts as he dropped to 14th on lap 145. Gordon regrouped to take 13th from Kurt Busch on lap 150. Ten laps later, he regained 12th place by passing Austin Dillon. Gordon regained his footing in the top-10 by passing Kyle Larson on lap 173. He ran 9th when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 198. He restarted in 7th place on lap 206. The inside line proved advantageous as Gordon passed Joey Logano to take 6th on lap 212. He entered the top-5 on lap 215 by passing AJ Allmendinger, and took 4th from Martin Truex Jr prior to the halfway point.

Gordon held 4th for the next 100 laps as Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch ran 1-2-3 at the front of the field. Just after losing 4th place to Martin Truex, Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 355. A caution for Carl Edwards' flat tire slowed the field on lap 357. Gordon restarted in 6th on lap 385 after NASCAR needed extended time to determine the running order. He dropped to 7th on lap 398 when Truex went by. Gordon took 6th from Jamie McMurray on lap 419. With 55 to go, Brad Keselowski took a position from Gordon. With 30 to go, he took 6th from Truex where he finished the race.

JG's comments
ON FINAL RACE: "As far as I know. I didn't anticipate running the races that I did this year. But I think it is. I just can't thank Greg Ives and this #88 team enough. Congrats to the #48, Jimmie, that was impressive. I think everybody had him written off. He had damage on the left front. I hadn't seen him in my mirror. Yeah, they caught a break, but boy he had to go up there and drive it and go race the #11 the way he did. I could see it from a distance and it was impressive. This #88 team deserves a lot of credit. They've had to overcome a lot of crazy madness this year with different drivers, the situation with Dale Jr. I couldn't be more proud of my last run in this car -- certainly this year, I know for a fact. But I think it will be for the future as well. I'm glad it was Martinsville, I had a lot of fun. It feels good to go out on a positive note. It wasn't a win, but I thought it was a really solid effort. The team did an excellent job with the car all weekend. There were times when I thought, 'If we could get a little more track position, we might be able to compete with those guys.' That last one running 30 laps under caution, I don't know what it did to my tires but they were just balloons after that. I didn't have the balance or grip. So, I had to settle for 6th. I had a great battle with Martin Truex. That was a lot of fun. I was trying to chase down the Gibbs guys, but just couldn't quite get to them."

ON JIMMIE JOHNSON:
"You put those guys in a situation like this where they can advance to go to Homestead, they're going to be working hard for that race. I know Homestead isn't known as their best track, but when a championship is on the line -- especially #7 -- watch what Jimmie and Chad and that 48 team can do. All of Hendrick Motorsports will put every effort behind them to help them get that championship."


Avoiding The Carnage
CITIZEN SOLDIER 400 - Dover International Speedway. Finish: 10th

Jeff Gordon posted his best finish in 7 races in the #88 Chevrolet in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the second half of the NASCAR season. Gordon finished a lap down in 10th place at Dover International Speedway. He led 7 laps during a green flag pit sequence, which were the first laps he's led this season. In addition, this is the 24th consecutive season where Gordon has posted a top-10 finish.

Gordon started 18th and dropped to 20th by lap 5. As the run progressed, he advanced back to 18th by lap 20. He ran in 16th when the first caution waved on lap 35 for Kevin Harvick's cut tire. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 16th place on lap 39. He dropped a spot after the restart, but regained 16th place on lap 85. He ran 15th when the caution waved on lap 104 for Ryan Blaney's wal contact. Gordon restarted in 14th place following pit stops. He took 13th from Kurt Busch on lap 116, and worked his way around Ryan Newman to claim 12th by lap 160. After Jamie McMurray dropped a cylinder, Gordon took 11th on lap 165. The third caution came on lap 184 for Kyle Larson's wall contact. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarted in 11th place. He dropped to 15th prior to a caution for McMurray's blown engine on lap 195. He came to pit road for tires and restarted in 14th place. At the halfway point, Gordon moved into the top-10 for the first time with a pass on Carl Edwards.

Gordon moved around Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin to advance to 8th place on lap 220. He slipped to 9th on lap 240 when Austin Dillon passed. He came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 280 and cycled through in 8th. Race leader Martin Truex put Gordon a lap down on lap 327. As the run progressed, Gordon dropped to 10th as Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson went by. Gordon stayed out longer on the green flag pit stop sequence and led 7 laps. He eventually came to pit road with 26 laps to go and cycled through a lap down in 12th place. With 13 to go, Gordon moved into the top-10.

JG's comments
ďI felt like we had a really good race car all weekend long. I realized real early on we were going to have our work cut out for us, starting 18th. It was really tough getting through traffic. I kind of led them down a path. We were loose that first run and over-tightened it and that didnít do us any favors. But we got it tuned up and had some great pit stops and got our way into the top 10. I wanted to get a top-10 in this car before my time in the car is over. We got that. Now let's go get a top five or something better at Martinsville."



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