Another dose of bad luck bit Jeff Gordon at Kansas Speedway. For the second consecutive race at Kansas, Gordon experienced late-race engine issues resulting in a sub-par finish. Gordon started 20th and gained four spots in the opening 10 laps. He ran 12th on lap 35 before coming to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 46. Over the next 80 laps, Gordon ran 12th-13th while battling handling issues. A caution flag on lap 142 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon failed to move foward and was mired in 15th. A caution on lap 187 for Juan Pablo Montoya’s wall contact brought pit stops. Gordon restarted 17th and moved to 12th with 70 laps to go. He entered the top-10 with 60 to go and took 9th from Kevin Harvick four laps later. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop with 44 to go. While running 9th with 35 to go, Gordon dropped a cylinder. He struggled to maintain minimum speed and came to pit road. He finished the race in 21st place, three laps down. Gordon dropped from 17th to 18th in the series standings. It was his 5th finish of 21st or worse in the last 10 races.
Gordon was running 9th when he dropped a cylinder with 35 laps to go. Although Gordon was not in contention to win the race, he seemed primed to pick up career top-10 #399 before the engine issues.
“We lucked out in some ways, I feel like, by finishing 21st. It could have been a lot worse. We struggled today. We missed the setup. And we were still going to finish 7th or 8th. So I think that says a lot about our race team. But yeah, we obviously had a valve spring I believe, something in the valve train that broke. They gave us more gear here this time and I think that took a toll on not only us, but on a lot of guys out there. I felt like it was turning a lot of rpm, even though we have a rev limiter to keep it from going over what we think it needs to and it never did; but still, it caused a problem.”
ON RUNNING THE FULL DISTANCE ON THIS SURFACE BEFORE REPAVING KANSAS SPEEDWAY
“It’s a handful. There’s no doubt about. There’s not much grip out there and you’re slipping and sliding around. It was a lot harder to pass today than I expected. I don’t know if that was the cooler temperatures that caused that. But yeah, things didn’t go quite as we expected today but we’ll see what this new surface is going to be like. Until we get on it with the tire and do some testing and run some laps, all we can do is be helpful right now and be excited about what they have coming here.”
ON NOT YET OBTAINING THE HENDRICK 200TH WIN
“I think if you look at Martinsville, it was so meant to be there. And it just didn’t happen. We’re going to get it. It’s just very competitive right now. And we, on the #24 team, need to qualify better. We’re working toward that. I think some of it’s me and not getting the most out of it. But as a group, we know it’s coming. It’s just when you have a target, it always makes it more challenging. When you’re relaxed and not focused on it, it just comes naturally and sometimes easier. So we’re trying not to put too much pressure on us with that and just trying to go out and do our thing and do our job. This year we’ve had great race cars. Today wasn’t our best but Jimmie (Johnson) was up there and Junior. Everybody is running good; we’ve just got to run a little bit better.”
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