Never underestimate the importance of pit stall selection. After running in the top-5 in the late stages of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Gordon got into the grass to avoid Joe Nemechek’s car on pit road and dropped outside the top-10. He was later swept up in a multi-car wreck while running in the middle of the pack and finished 34th. Gordon fell to 14th in the series points standings, 12 points outside the top-10. At the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson led the most laps en route to a sweep of the Cup series races at Daytona in 2013.
Gordon started 23rd and entered the top-20 within 2 laps. Using the middle line, he moved to 13th on lap 8. However, he dropped back in the draft and ran 21st on lap 13. The first caution waved on lap 24 for Paul Menard’s engine. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for 2 tires and restarting 17th on lap 27. At the 100-mile mark, Gordon ran on the outside line in 22nd place. On lap 50, he moved to the middle lane and advanced to 17th in a draft with Trevor Bayne. However, 5 laps later he had slipped to 23rd. A caution for Joey Logano’s wall contact on lap 71 brought Gordon to pit road for tires and fuel. He restarted 23rd on lap 75. Gordon moved to the middle lane and advanced to 12th place behind Jimmie Johnson in the draft. He entered the top-10 for the first time just before the halfway point of the event.
On lap 92, he moved up to 3rd in a drafting line behind Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson. The next caution came at lap 98 for a wreck involving Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, and Juan Pablo Montoya. Gordon changed 2 tires during the round of pit stops and restarted in 3rd. Gordon ran 4th in single file for several laps before a caution with 33 laps to go for a crash involving Aric Almirola and David Stremme. After coming to pit road, Gordon moved to the grass to avoid Joe Nemechek and dropped from 4th to 12th for the restart with 28 to go. He briefly dropped to 14th before getting into a draft behind Kyle Busch and moved to 11th with 22 laps to go. Gordon ran the high line in 15th place with Carl Edwards directly behind him with 16 to go.
Mired in traffic, Gordon was caught up in a multi-car wreck with 11 laps to go. Gordon sustained heavy damage to the right side of the car. The race was red flagged for nearly 10 minutes for track cleanup. With a damaged radiator,
After the final pit stop, Gordon got into the grass trying to avoid Joe Nemechek and dropped from 4th to 12th for the restart with 28 laps to go.
JEFF GORDON POST-RACE COMMENTS (34th place): “We lost some track position there, we had a really strong car. A really good handling car, so I was happy about that… We were sitting there kind of riding along hoping that outside lane — I can’t say we were riding because it was pretty aggressive. But, just nowhere to go just riding the outside lane hoping that it would start to make progress. I don’t know, I just saw somebody spin in front of me (Hamlin) and we all tried to avoid him. Matt (Kenseth) got sideways and I didn’t have anywhere to go there. It got the right front and that just fed the car into the wall. So, it was unfortunate. I still think we had a great shot at getting the car to the front. We had a very strong race car. You gotta survive before you can ever get there. You gotta finish too.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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