June 2010 News

Satisfy My Soul
June 28 - - Jimmie Johnson paced the field in both practice sessions on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That turned out to be foreboding as Johnson made a late pass on Kurt Busch to win his 52nd career race on the 1-mile oval. Since New Hampshire in the first race in the Chase, make no mistake that Johnson will be the driver to beat -- both at Loudon and for the title.

For Jeff Gordon, a solid 4th place finish should serve him well when the series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in mid-September. Gordon started 16th and lost three spots before the tire pressures came up. Gordon then moved back into the 16th position on lap 7. One lap later he took 15th from David Ragan. On lap 14, he passed Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose to move into the 13th spot. Gordon gained two more spots on lap 18 with passes on Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski. He entered the top-10 on lap 22 by taking the low line in the corner to pass Joey Logano. Three laps later he took 9th from Sam Hornish. The caution flag waved on lap 35 for debris on the track. Gordon came to pit road for four tires and departed in 12th place due to several drivers opting for two tires. Gordon re-entered the top-10 on lap 40, and took 8th from Joey Logano on lap 43. However, his forward march stalled as Burton took 8th on lap 50. Ten laps later, Mark Martin pulled to the inside on the backstretch and allowed Gordon to move into 7th place. On lap 85, he got a strong run off turn two and took 6th from Kyle Busch. Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 108 and cycled through in 6th. On lap 121, he took 5th place from Tony Stewart.

At the halfpoint point, Gordon passed Juan Pablo Montoya for the 4th position. Gordon came to pit road for tires under green on lap 179 complaining of a loose handling condition. Following the cycle of stops, Gordon ran in 6th place. On lap 208, he took 5th from Kasey Kahne who was experiencing engine problems. Gordon fell back to 6th on lap 230 when Jimmie Johnson went by. However, he moved back into 5th when Tony Stewart pitted under green on lap 235. The caution waved on lap 236 when Kahne's engine blew. Gordon came to pit road for tires and departed in 4th place. On lap 248, Montoya slid into Gordon in turn three and pushed him up the track -- putting him back to 6th place. Gordon muscled his way around Montoya into 5th on lap 250. Kurt Busch eventually passed to put Gordon back in 6th. With 20 to go, Montoya wrecked in turn three after Reed Sorensen moved up the track. Gordon came to pit road and opted for two tires. He restarted in 4th with 13 to go. Johnson took the race lead from Burton and pulled away, while Gordon fell back to 5th. Two laps later he moved back to 4th when Burton and Kyle Busch spun in turn four to bring out a caution. Gordon moved to 3rd on the restart just before Kurt Busch nudged Johnson out of the lead. Stewart took the 3rd spot from Gordon with 6 to go with a strong move in turn two. With 2 to go, Johnson re-took the lead from Busch en route to the win.

JG post-race comments

"That's just all the type of racing you're seeing these days. Double-file re-starts get really hairy and wild and crazy. It was a little bit eventful with us and Juan Montoya there but we recovered. Again, we've got to work on the restarts a little bit. We had a really strong car early in the race, but lost that a little bit. So, we'll go back and do our notes and try to figure out how we can be better when we come back here for the Chase. But all-in-all it was a pretty good day."

"The first half of the race I thought we were one of the best cars. We started 16th and drove all the way up to the top five. I was really happy with it. But somewhere along the way I don't know if it was the cloud cover track conditions or how it changed, we just really lost the handling on it and could just never get the car to turn in the middle quite like it had earlier. From that point on we were just kind of out there. We weren't charging and moving forward and able to battle guys like we were earlier in the race. We really hit the set-up early in the race. Track conditions or just adjustments, I don't know, but we just kind of lost the handling on it a little bit. It got bumping and banging and got exciting like it always does here at New Hampshire, and I feel pretty good about bringing thec car home in 4th."

Take No Prisoners
June 21 - - The picturesque rolling hills of Northern California saw some of Jeff Gordon's fiercest racing of the season as he posted a battle-tested 5th place finish. Gordon had several dust-ups with competitors on the track in a race that came down to Marcos Ambrose's mental error under a late race caution. Ambrose slowed on the track and failed to maintain pace car speed, which allowed Jimmie Johnson to take the lead and his fourth win of the season.

Gordon started 5th and held the spot in the opening laps, save for a damaged rear bumper due to Marcos Ambrose's aggressiveness. Gordon ceded the spot to Ambrose on lap 6. He then followed Ambrose past Kasey Kahne at the exit of the chute. The first caution waved on lap 10 after Clint Bowyer spun in the esses and Jamie McMurray was caught in the chain-reaction. Gordon slipped to 7th on the restart, but regrouped to take 6th from Martin Truex on lap 17. Three laps later he moved to the inside of Kevin Harvick to re-enter the top-5. Gordon then closed in and passed Tony Stewart with an inside move in turn 11. Gordon took 3rd from Kurt Busch on lap 25 by outbraking him into turn 11.

Gordon moved into the runner-up spot on lap 26 when Ambrose came to pit road for a green flag stop. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 33 and was passed by Juan Pablo Montoya exiting the pits -- lending credence to a misjudgement on the tachometer in the #24 car. After the stops cycled through the field, Gordon ran in 7th place. He took 6th from Kurt Busch on lap 47 as his best lap times came on older tires. He moved back into the top-5 one lap later with a move around Montoya. Gordon ran 4th when Mattias Ekstrom in the 83 car came to pit road. He took 3rd when Ambrose came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 53. The second caution waved on lap 58 for Dave Blaney's car stopping on the track. Gordon came to pit road since he was 13 laps short of making it on one more stop. He was the 3rd car to exit the pits and restarted in 9th due to 6 cars staying out.

On the restart, Gordon was tapped in the right rear by Montoya who made an aggressive move at the exit of the chute. Gordon gained 2 spots but complained of a potential tire issue. One lap later at the exit of the chute, Gordon pushed into Ekstrom, who spun David Ragan. Gordon lightly hit the front of Ragan's car going by. In turn 11, Gordon moved to the inside and spun Truex entering the corner. He fell to 8th when Montoya went by. On lap 64, the caution waved for Brad Keselowski's off-course excursion in turn 10. Gordon had body damage on the left side of the car from the Ekstrom contact, and nose damage from hitting Truex. The restart created a chain-reaction mess and resulted in a red flag after six cars stacked up in the middle of the field. Truex, Denny Hamlin, Max Papis, Sam Hornish, and Regan Smith were among those collected in the melee. Truex vowed fire and brimstone revenge on Gordon next week at Loudon while being interviewed by the media. Gordon turned off the engine in 7th place for the red-flag delay. Gordon stayed on the track and restarted 5th on lap 67.

Gordon moved to 4th on lap 70, but was distantly behind Jimmie Johnson, Ambrose, and Kevin Harvick at the front of the field. He came to pit road for his final green flag stop on lap 79. A caution for Joey Logano's spin (off of Montoya's front bumper) slowed the field on lap 86. Gordon restarted 9th with 24 laps to go. He moved to 7th before a caution with 18 to go for Ekstrom's spin. A jam on the restart sent Gordon from 7th back to 10th. With 12 laps to go, Gordon bumped Elliott Sadler in turn 11, which sent Sadler into Bowyer. Gordon then moved up to 8th in the running order. Keselowski's spin with 8 laps to go necessitated a caution after fluid was dropped at the exit of the chute. On the restart with 6 laps to go, Gordon eased his way around Kurt Busch to take the 6th spot exiting turn two. With 4 to go, Gordon moved to the inside and took 5th from Greg Biffle. He crossed the line in 5th and moved from 7th to 5th in the series standings.

JG post-race comments

"Crazy. We had an awesome race car on the long runs. We needed those long runs. We weren't very good on the short runs. On the restarts you just got used up. Guys making it three wide and I'm as guilty of it as anybody. After they started doing it to me, I had to do it to others. There is some things that I'm not proud of that I did today; certainly with Martin (Truex, Jr.). I mean, I completely messed that up and I will try to patch that up. Other things that happened out there were just really hard racing incidents. We fought as hard as we could to bring the DuPont Chevrolet home fifth."

"He should be, you know. And whatever is coming back to me, I understand. When you blatantly get into a guy like that, you can say you are sorry all you want and I certainly had no intentions on what happened with him. I have the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) behind me dive bombing me into the braking zone and where I made a mistake is trying to out-brake him. I will try and explain that to Martin. I fell terrible because Martin races and a lot of guys clean out there. He had a good run going and I ruined that for him."

"It was pretty wild and crazy. I made a lot of guys mad today. I certainly owe Martin Truex and apology. He was just racing as clean as he could and I was racing with Juan Pablo (Montoya) and I just got in there and took him straight out. I feel awful about that. Other than you, you just had to race so hard there at the end. Guys were just running people off the race track. Running into the back of them. It was like being on a short, dirt track. I know we've made a lot of people mad. We finished top-five, we'll just take it. It tore our race car up and we never had a shot of winning after that but, a lot of guys didn't finish in the top-five like we did either, so oh well."

"Kurt Busch had everything coming to him that I gave him because he gave it to me on the restart before that, so I don't feel sorry about that. I certainly do with Martin. With Elliott (Sadler), I feel bad. I was racing him hard, he was blocking me but we was trying to race somebody else too but that was probably my fault as well. There was a lot of that going on out there. I got a little frustrated because we had a good race car and we got shuffled there a little bit on some of those restarts and we were playing catch-up from that point on. Congratulations to Jimmie (Johnson). I know how bad he wanted a win on a road course and he did an awesome job today. Happy Father's Day."

Distant Echoes
June 14 - - Jeff Gordon turned in his usual solid performance at Michigan Speedway, but once again it wasn't enough to procure a victory. Gordon finished 4th but did not lead a lap in a race dominated by Denny Hamlin, which produced another victory for Joe Gibbs Racing as they wrestle for supremecy in the sport with Hendrick Motorsports.

Gordon started 6th and dropped two spots in the opening laps. He regained his starting position by the first caution flag on lap 18. Shortly after the restart he reported a loose handling condition and slipped back to 10th in the running order. A pit stop on lap 48 allowed crew chief Steve Letarte to make adjustments. Gordon moved to 6th on lap 53 and entered the top-5 on lap 63. A two-tire pit stop under caution on lap 98 moved him up to 3rd, before he lost a spot at the halfway point.

Gordon held the 4th position for the long green flag run, through a round of pit stops on lap 142. He remained distantly in 4th for the balance of the next run while trailing race leader Denny Hamlin by more than 10 seconds. Green flag stops came on laps 176-177 with Gordon holding the 4th spot. A debris caution on lap 182 removed Hamlin's comfortable margin over the field. Gordon opted to stay out, thus putting a premium on track position over fresh tires. Gordon briefly moved to 3rd after the restart, before falling to 4th with 11 laps to go.

Post-race comments
"It was just really challenging, those restarts, especially late in the race. It was a challenging race, just trying to get the balance of the car from one end to the next. And getting track position, so there was a lot on the pit crew. And Steve Letarte making the calls, as well as just trying to get in position we were a third- or fourth-place car today, and to come home fourth, it's a good day for this team. It was a challenging day, but it wouldn't have taken but a few more things to make this great and a chance to win. We're real happy with today to get a top-five. It was a good points day, and we know that we're way behind [Denny Hamlin], and we've got some work to do there."

Slip Sliding Away
June 7 - - The momentum that Jeff Gordon and the DuPont team had in the early spring from several near-wins has become a thing of the past as Gordon has struggled over the last three races. Gordon posted a 32nd place finish at Pocono Raceway after battling loose handling issues for the majority of the event. A late race fuel gamble backfired and Gordon fell through the field after restarting in 6th with 29 laps to go, before being collected in a last lap crash.

A heavy rainstorm delayed the start by nearly 2 hours, and Gordon took the green flag under sunny skies just after 3pm/eastern time. He started 10th and moved up to 7th by the end of lap 2. On lap 6, he moved to the inside of Dale Earnhardt Jr and took 6th at the entrance to turn one. Gordon moved into the top-5 after passing Tony Stewart on lap 10. A competition caution on lap 15 brought the field to pit road with Gordon holding the 5th spot through the stops. After the restart he took 4th from Matt Kenseth on lap 22. He held 4th through a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 50. Gordon's car was too loose on the long green flag run and crew chief Steve Letarte opted to drop the track bar during a green flag pit stop on lap 77. On lap 84, Gordon lost two spots to Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne while battling a loose handling car. Jimmie Johnson went by on lap 85 to send Gordon back to 7th, and Jeff Gordon sent Gordon to 8th on lap 92.

The second caution waved on lap 97 for debris. Gordon came to pit road for adjustments and departed in 8th place. He moved into 7th on the restart on lap 101, but fell to 10th after AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, and Kasey Kahne passed within a two lap stretch on laps 104-105. Joey Logano took the 10th spot one lap later as Gordon's fall through the field continued. Gordon later passed Biffle to re-enter the top-10. However, he dropped out of the top-10 on lap 121 when Earnhardt Jr went by on the frontstretch. Gordon pitted under the green flag on lap 132 for adjustments and ran 13th after the cycle of pit stops. A debris caution on lap 154 brought the leaders to pit road. A slow stop sent Gordon back to 17th place for the restart on lap 158. A caution for Casey Mears' spin followed the restart and Gordon came down pit road to top off the fuel. Crew chief Steve Letarte told Gordon that he was 2 laps short, but some caution laps might help him stretch it to the end. Keyword: Might.

Gordon restarted in 24th position with 35 laps to go. On the restart, David Ragan moved up the track in turn one and clipped Jamie McMurray to bring out the caution. Most of the lead lap cars came to pit road, while Gordon remained out to gain track position. He restarted in 6th place with 29 laps to go. He lost positions to Matt Kenseth and Regan Smith, before Denny Hamlin passed to send Gordon back to 9th with 26 to go. A debris caution slowed the field and set up another restart. Gordon opted to stay on the track and lost positions on the restart. He dropped to 17th with 20 laps to go as his hopes for a solid finish began evaporating in a hurry. With 15 laps to go, he backslid to 21st place. With 2 to go, he was running 23rd when Joey Logano spun in turn three to set up a green/white/checkered finish. Gordon came to pit road for tires. Gordon restarted 26th and was collected in a major wreck on the final lap after drilling Kasey Kahne's wrecked car. Gordon posted his worst finish at Pocono since a 34th place effort in 2006 -- notable for the heavy wall contact he made after spinning into the turn one wall. His understated comment after the wreck was that it just hadn't been his day. He exited the car under his own power and quickly headed east.

Testing The Roads
June 4 - - Jeff Gordon completed a two-day tire test for Goodyear at the Watkins Glen International road course on June 1-2 in the hopes of recapturing the magic he had at the track in the late-1990's. On Wednesday afternoon, he swapped cars for a few laps with Marcos Ambrose. Although car swapping at a test session is fairly routine, (it is believed that) Gordon's laps in Ambrose's car were his first in a Toyota on a NASCAR track. Following the test, Gordon attended a charity event for Baby Buggy in New York City.

A Heart In New York
June 1 - - Jeff Gordon was tailed around his adopted hometown of New York City on May 18-19 by Associated Press NASCAR writer Jenna Fryer and USA Today's Nate Ryan. Gordon had a morning appearance at ESPN Upfront (the network's annual sales/advertising showcase), went home for the Tuesday conference call with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates & crew chiefs, a brief song to Ella, followed by a subway ride to a workout at a private gym. On Thursday, he filmed a Time Warner Cable commercial with Raquel Beezley, 2008 Miss California USA.

Jenna Fryer's article | Nate Ryan's article

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