After qualifying in the top-5, Jeff Gordon entered the Save Mart 350 with high hopes of scoring his first win of the season. However, after battling handling issues, Gordon finished 16th. It was just his third finish below 9th place in the last 21 races at Sonoma. The finish snapped his streak of 9 consecutive top-10’s at Sonoma.
Gordon started 5th and took 4th from Matt Kenseth on lap 4. He took 3rd from Kyle Larson on lap 8 but was unable to close on Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger at the front of the field. The first caution waved on lap 22 for David Gilliland’s crash. Gordon followed the leaders to pit road and restarted in 11th place after several drivers stayed out. He slipped to 12th prior to the next caution on lap 28 for Martin Truex’s crash. He moved up to 10th when two drivers came to pit road. On the restart he took 9th from Kyle Larson and moved to 8th on lap 34 with a move around Brad Keselowski. Gordon took 7th from Justin Allgaier on lap 35 and advanced to 6th by passing Jamie McMurray. He re-entered the top-5 by passing Ryan Newman on lap 40. However, after battling handling issues, he fell to 7th on lap 45 when Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. went by. His struggles continued as Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne passed on lap 50. After David Ragan took a position, Gordon came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 51. When the cycle of stops was completed, Gordon ran in 11th place.
The third caution waved on lap 74 for JJ Yeley’s crash. Gordon came to pit road for adjustments as spring rubbers were pulled out of the right rear. Gordon restarted at the rear of the field because of a pit crew penalty for throwing equipment. He advanced to 25th when David Ragan and Carl Edwards wrecked on lap 78. Gordon worked his way back into the top-20 with 16 laps to go. He ran 18th when the caution waved with 12 laps to go for Casey Mears’ broken axle. Gordon stayed on the track and restarted in 3rd place behind Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray with 8 laps to go. On the restart, Gordon held 3rd until Kyle Busch took a spot in turn 11. Clint Bowyer took a spot from Gordon with 5 laps to go. Kurt Busch dropped Gordon to 6th. One lap later he fell to 8th when Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano went by. With 3 laps to go, he fell out of the top-10 when Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman passed. Gordon faded to 13th with 2 to go, and finished the event in 16th place.
“We had to make some big adjustments and lose track position, but the car was really good there at the end. “It was a great weekend. Nothing’s going to take away from this weekend for me. I know it wasn’t the finish we all wanted, but it was fun to hang out with some of my friends. I hate that we weren’t a little bit better. The (ending), that was just taking some risks on the last pit stop. We didn’t have anything to lose.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
MP3 Download -without spotter chatter
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