August 16 – – For the first 300 miles of the Carfax 400 at Michigan Speedway, Jeff Gordon put himself in a perfect position to contend for a victory. However, a cut tire with 47 laps to tire ultimately sealed his fate on a day where he posted a 27th place finish. It marked the first time this season that Gordon has gone four consecutive races without posting a top-5 finish.
Gordon qualified 36th, which was his worst career qualifying effort at Michigan. However, he posted the 3rd fastest lap in Saturday’s final practice and started off the race with forward momentum. Gordon gained 8 positions in the first two laps to move up to 28th. By lap 5 he moved into 23rd as he was able to run the low line in the corner to gain spots. On lap 9, he passed David Ragan to move into the top-20. His forward march continued as he took 16th from Kyle Busch on lap 18. He took 14th from Kurt Busch on lap 20 by driving hard off turn 4. The first caution waved on lap 32 for Kurt Busch’s blown engine. Gordon came to pit road for fuel and tires. A slow pit stop sent him back out in 16th place. He dropped to 19th within 3 laps of the restart on lap 42 while complaining of loose handling. Light rain brought the caution on lap 60 with Gordon entrenched in 19th place. He lost a spot on pit road and restarted in 20th on lap 65.
Gordon began moving through traffic on the restart and ran 14th on lap 70. Four laps later he passed Matt Kenseth to take over the 11th position. He entered the top-10 on lap 72 with a pass on Jeff Burton. Gordon took 8th from Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 80. At the halfway point, Gordon passed Jimmie Johnson for the 6th position. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 103. He cycled through the pit stop sequence in 7th place. On lap 109, Gordon took 6th from Kyle Busch. Five laps later he took 4th from Kasey Kahne. Gordon passed Tony Stewart for 3rd on lap 121. The handling tightened up later in the run which hindered his forward storm through the field. Gordon came to pit road on lap 140 and had a 13.5 second stop. He held 3rd through the pit stop sequence. A caution flag on lap 148 for Ryan Newman’s spin brought the field to pit road. Gordon opted for a two tire change and departed in 3rd place.
Gordon dropped to 7th within a lap of the restart, but drifted up the track in turn 3 with 47 laps to go after cutting a tire. Gordon dropped to the apron with a flat left front tire and damage on the right side of his car. Gordon limped around to pit road for a tire change and sledgehammer repairs to the right front. Gordon restarted 27th with 42 laps to go realizing that fuel mileage was his chance for a solid finish. He topped off the tank just before the green flag to ensure he could make it the rest of the way. Gordon advanced to 25th before a debris caution with 33 laps to go. Gordon came to pit road for two tires and restarted in 16th with 28 to go. He fell back in traffic and ran 21st on lap 180. Gordon soon fell to 27th — the last car on the lead lap. He remained second in the series standings but lacks bonus points for the Chase For The Championship, which begins on September 19 in Loudon, New Hampshire.
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