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November News


Gustafson Wins MOOG Award
November 29 - - Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Jeff Gordon's team, won the 2011 MOOG "Problem Solver of the Year" Award . The year-end MOOG Problem Solver award is presented to the crew chief who delivers the most consistent problem solving performance throughout the season. Gustafson will receive his MOOG Problem Solver of the Year trophy and a check for $75,000 during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon on December 1 in Las Vegas.

Gustafson led Sprint Cup crew chiefs with four weekly MOOG Problem Solver awards, which are presented to the crew chief whose car posts the highest increase in average lap speed over the second half of the race. Seven crew chiefs Ė Darian Grubb (No. 14 Chevrolet), Drew Blickensderfer (No. 6 Ford), Steve Letarte (No. 88 Chevrolet), Gil Martin (No. 29 Chevrolet), Bob Osborne (No. 99 Ford), Shane Wilson (No. 33 Chevrolet), and Paul Wolfe (No. 2 Dodge) Ė each had three MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Awards.

"Alan was consistently excellent on pit road this year. He made great calls in key races and did a remarkable job of maximizing the performance of the chassis," said Michael Proud, director of marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul. "Our weekly and season-ending awards are all about having a feel for the racetrack and the car and making the precise steering and suspension adjustments necessary to come out on top. No one did that better than Alan in 2011."

The MOOG Problem Solver of the Year Award and the weekly MOOG Problem Solver of the Race Award are sponsored by Federal-Mogul Corporation, the global automotive components supplier and manufacturer of MOOG steering and suspension parts.


One For The Ages
Miami 400. Homestead-Miami Speedway: Finish: 5th

Rewind: Tony Stewart claimed his third NASCAR championship by winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Stewart's victory thrust him into a points tie with Carl Edwards, who finished second. However, Stewart won the championship due to the first tiebreaker -- victories. It was the sixth consecutive season that Hendrick Motorsports' chassis and engines won the series title. Stewart won 3 out of the last 4 races in the season to claim the championship.

Gordon started 7th and moved to 4th by the conclusion on lap 8. Rain on lap 12 brought out the first caution flag. Gordon came to pit road and exited in 13th place after taking four tires. He re-entered the top-10 on lap 23 and moved up to 5th by lap 30. He passed Ryan Newman for 4th place before a caution on lap 34 for Dave Blaney's spin. After racing resumed, he took 3rd from Kevin Harvick on lap 46 and moved into the runner-up spot on lap 50. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 80. The field cycled through before David Ragan's blown engine on lap 83. A caution for rain on lap 108 brought the leaders to pit road for a red flag period.

The race resumed after nearly a 90-minute delay at 6pm. Gordon came to pit road for tires and exited in second place behind Kevin Harvick, who opted for two tires. Gordon took the lead after the restart, but lost the top spot to Tony Stewart after pacing the field for 6 laps. Edwards took the 2nd spot from Gordon on lap 130. A caution for Trevor Bayne's wall contact brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted in 5th place on lap 140. However, he slipped to 10th before a caution for Jimmie Johnson's spin on lap 145. Gordon steadily moved back up to 7th on lap 153. A caution for a multi-car wreck involving Landon Cassill, Trevor Bayne, and Cole Whitt slowed the field on lap 155. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 5th place. He fell to 9th on the restart, but regrouped to take 8th from Newman with 100 laps to go. With 85 to go, Gordon moved into 6th place as championship contenders Edwards and Stewart battled at the front of the field.

Gordon came in for a green flag pit stops with 68 laps to go and cycled through in 6th place. A caution flag for rain with 55 laps to go slowed the field. After a lengthy caution period, Gordon ran 10th with 35 to go while Stewart and Edwards battled 1-2 at the front for the Sprint Cup title. With 20 to go, Gordon moved up to 7th place as Stewart led Edwards by more than a second for the Cup series championship. With 10 to go, Gordon advanced to 5th place.

For the first time, Gordon scored more victories in a season than Johnson. In addition, he led more than 920 laps in a season for the first time since 2007.

Road Ahead: After some down time over the Thanksgiving holiday, Jeff Gordon will head to Las Vegas for the NASCAR banquet on December 2. Following that, he'll visit Rwanda with his family to view the health situation as the pediatric cancer care center is built.

JG's comments

"When the sun went down it didnít work as well for us. We were good when it was slick and when the grip came, somehow the balance...and this happens to us a lot and when the balance changes from the cooler track temperatures it seems to shift us into an area that we have a hard time adjusting. But it was a great day, a top-five, great year. We had three wins, got number 85, and came up short in the Chase but we look forward to next year and battling it out for the Sprint Cup."

THE WAY THE CHAMPIONSHIP ENDED WITH TONY AND CARL ITS JUST GOOD FOR OUR SPORT ISN'T IT?
"It's great for the sport and I think Tony is just one of the all-time greats and he proved that over these last ten races and especially tonight. And it showed Carl what he is made of as well. I think that is awesome. Look at the people standing up... they stuck around to see how this one was going to unfold. You thought he was down and out and then he came back and you really thought he wasnít sitting in the best position and he had to stretch the fuel and everything. And gosh if he didnít do that too. That is amazing."

WAS IT AS FUN OUT THERE FOR YOU AS IT WAS FOR US WATCHING?
"This is a great racetrack. It offers so many different grooves, and you are slipping and sliding around, which is our kind of race track. It changed for us a little bit when the sun went down. We were not quite as good as we were when the sun was out. We had to make some adjustments, but just a great effort by this team. In the pits they were awesome, and we adjusted, we got it better there at the end and started working our way back to the front. Great top-five finish to end the season. I just have to thank Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys. They just worked so hard this year, they are a great team; I canít wait for next year. Congratulations to Tony Stewart, my gosh, what an amazing run he had in these final ten races. He has done some incredible things in his career, but I am guessing that this one is going to top them all. He did it in a fashion that everybody dreams of doing."

CERTAINLY YOU WANTED TO WIN THE RACE, BUT A TOP-FIVE FINISH IN THE LAST RACE OF THE SEASON HAS TO FEEL GOOD GOING TO THE OFF SEASON LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012:
"Well, we have never won here. We have a lot of top-fives so we added to that. At times I thought we had something for Carl ( Edwards) when Tony ( Stewart) got up there, I said "Uh-oh" he had a little bit extra that me and Carl did not have and he took that and went on to win the race."


Elimination Day
Kobalt Tools 500k. Phoenix Raceway: Finish: 32nd

Rewind: It was a day to forget for Jeff Gordon at the reconfigured Phoenix Raceway. He battled handling issues in the first half of the race, and brake problems in the second half. Gordon finished off the pace in 32nd place, six laps down. It was Gordon's fifth finish lower than 20th in the 9 Chase races. Gordon was mathematically eliminated from the title picture with the finish, though he was realistically eliminated several weeks ago.

Gordon started 23rd and moved to 18th in the opening 10 laps which were sandwiched around two early cautions. He moved to 15th by lap 25 and passed Jimmie Johnson for 14th before the competition caution on lap 40. He gained three spots on pit road and restarted 11th on lap 44. However, he faded to 14th on the restart and spent the bulk of the second run mired outside the top-10. A caution on lap 93 brought the leaders to pit road with Gordon exiting in 14th place. The restart provided an adventure as Gordon was shuffled back to 21st. He was running 19th when a green flag pit stop sequence began at the halfway point of the event.

A caution flag trapped Gordon a lap down on lap 160. Gordon came to pit road to fix a brake issue during the next caution flag on lap 167. After the pit stop, Gordon ran in 29th place. The next caution waved on lap 177 when Brian Vickers intentionally wrecked Matt Kenseth in turn three. Gordon's brake problems continued when the race resumed and he went a second lap down on lap 212. An extended pit stop under caution on lap 220 focused on the brakes. It took just 20 laps for Gordon to lose a third lap to the leaders. He ran the rest of the event at least 10 miles per hour off the pace and finished 32nd -- six laps down.

Road Ahead: The 2011 NASCAR season concludes at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- just one of two tracks on the NASCAR circuit where Gordon has not scored a victory in the Cup series.

JG's comments

DESCRIBE YOUR DAY, THIS PLACE ON BRAKES IS SO CRITICAL
"Yes. You know, I'm questioning what we had going on there because it seems like something contributed to that. I don't know. Disappointing day. Disappointing weekend. We weren't good here in the test. We weren't good when we got here. We made a little of gains there and worked our way up there a little bit, but the restarts were hurting us really bad. It's really slick out there and we were fighting and battling but then the brake problem happening and that pretty much ruined our day."

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING PHYSICALLY WRONG WITH THE BRAKES?
"Nope."

YOU HAD SUCH HIGH HOPES COMING INTO THIS CHASE; THIS HAS TO BE DISAPPOINTING THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS.
"We knew we were out of it, but you want to close the season out on a positive note and carry some momentum into the off season as well as more as high in the points as you can. It hasn't been our Chase at all and not the kind of year we wanted or the way we wanted to close out the year. This is a very good team and we've got a lot to look forward to in the future."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO RUN THIS TRACK WITHOUT BRAKES?
"I had brakes, I just didn't have enough to go fast. Every time I tried a little faster and use a little more brakes, then all of a sudden the pedal would start going to the floor and then I'd just have to back off and cool them back down. Just something we have to look into because we had a lot of opening to cool them. It shouldn't have gotten hot."

CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TRACK?
"I think the corners are not bad; but that dogleg in the back is ridiculous. It's almost dangerous. I'm not a fan of that. But I think they are going to have a really nice race track here. The surface I liked as it moved into a wider groove. As it wears, Goodyear will be able to build a tire than can wear and have a little more grip so that we can race a little bit better."


Six Shooter
AAA 500. Texas Motor Speedway: Finish: 6th

Rewind: Tony Stewart captured his second consecutive victory and closed to within 3 points of Carl Edwards with just 2 races remaining in the 2011 season. Jeff Gordon finished 6th after battling a loose handling condition when the sun went down. Gordon started 23rd and steadily marched forward. He moved into the top-15 by lap 80 and entered the top-5 in the second half of the race. He ran as high as third before handling issues surfaced on the longer run. Nevertheless, the 6th place finish is Gordon's best effort at Texas since winning at the track in April 2009 -- a span of 5 races.

Road Ahead: The penultimate race of the 2011 season takes the Cup series to the reconfigured one-mile oval in Phoenix. JG scored the victory in Phoenix in February, prior to the reconfiguration which added banking and a different angle on the backstretch.

JG's comments

ON HIS RACE
"Great effort by the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, real proud of everybody, did not qualify well, we had to start in the middle of the field and this place can be tough to move up there and we moved up right away and at times I thought we had a car that could compete for the win with those guys up-front there, got up to about fourth, but when that sun went down it changed for us and we just could not keep up with the track conditions and lost a little bit there at the end. Compared to the way we ran here earlier in the year, this is almost like a win for us."

GREAT RUN HERE TONIGHT, YOU HAVE TO BE FAIRLY HAPPY WITH THAT I WOULD GUESS?
"I am. If you look at our history here in Texas, it is not my best track and we struggled a little bit this weekend, so when they dropped the green and we were driving forward I was pretty happy, we made some adjustments to make it even better and at one point in the race I thought we had something that could compete with the guys up-front for the win. When the sun went down, we lost the handling a little bit and got real loose, so we fell back. Still sixth is a great day."

TALK ABOUT THE TIRE STRATEGY?
"We took the two tires and we got a couple of good restarts and got up there into third and fourth which I was very happy with. But, we wore the left rear tire out and the car got extremely loose. So, we had to come in and pit. We were just loose in general on that last run and a lot of guys closed up on us. That is why we lost a couple of spots. We took four on that last stop. I thought Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) played the strategy perfectly. We made huge strides and this is really something to build on at this race track."

ANY THOUGHTS ON THE POINTS BATTLE BETWEEN TONY STEWART AND CARL EDWARDS?
"I'll tell you, it's incredible. It is kind of fun to watch those two battling. What these next two weeks are going to be like is going to be incredible. I don't think anybody expected Tony to have a Chase like this, but, you know what, heís a champion. He's a great driver and when they get their setups in the cars to where they are right now, watch out for those cars. Carl's not done yet. Those guys are solid and really strong. Iíll tell you, Phoenix is going to be interesting. To me Phoenix is the unknown with this new pavement and I think we are all going to be anxious to see not only how the race goes, but how this championship unfolds."



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