Jeff Gordon started off loose, but the car eventually tightened up as the opening run progressed. He ran 11th when the competition caution waved on lap 50. He ran 13th-15th over the next 100 laps battling a tight handling car in the center of the corners before a caution for Robby Gordon’s wall contact. At the halfway point, Gordon was running in 11th place — but the handling seemed to be improving as he turned the fastest laps just before a caution for Bobby Labonte’s spin. However, chassis adjustments proved to be his underdoing as he dropped to 15th and was in danger of going a lap down. A debris caution on lap 344 allowed Gordon to come to pit road for adjustments. He failed to make in-roads toward the top-10 over the last 150 laps and finished 14th. He remained 19th in the series standings, but would qualify for the Chase (if that became an issue in March!) due to his win at Phoenix.
Road ahead: Gordon has just one top-10 finish in his last 7 races, and just two top-5 finishes in the last 21 events. The series heads to the 2-mile speedway in Fontana, California, for Sunday’s race. Crew chief Alan Gustafson led Mark Martin to three straight top-6 finishes there. Jeff Gordon had solid efforts there in 2010, but an engine issue and a pit road penalty hindered his finishing position.
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY:
“It was more down than up, I think. We had one run where the car was just unbelievable on the long run and we had a long run and I don’t know how far we drove up there but I drove by a bunch of cars and I was pretty optimistic at that point. And I was still a little bit tight, which is what we’d been fighting in the center of the corner; and we freed it up and was so loose I couldn’t drive it after that. And we just went back and forth and back and forth. We salvaged a 14th place finish out of it, which you can’t complain too much about that. It was definitely not our day so we were frustrated at times and fighting hard but I felt like we worked well together as a team to get through kind of a rough day and come out here with a decent finish.”
HOW DID THE TIRE TREAT YOU?
“Well, it doesn’t have a lot of grip but we didn’t have any tire problems, or the #24 team didn’t have any tire problems. I don’t know if anybody else did. I know Goodyear’s intentions were good to try to get the drivers’ more grip, which is what we like to have. That’s what that first tire had. But we’ve got to have one that puts rubber down on the track too. This seemed like a good fix.”
YOU’RE NOT VERY HAPPY WITH BRAD KESELOWSKI. WHAT HAPPENED?
“The guy was three laps down. I understand. He’s trying to keep from going a lap down and hey, you’ve got to give him credit. They fought back and got back on the lead lap and got a decent finish out of it. I’ll just tell Brad that the next time I’m three laps down, and he’s on the lead lap, just expect the same out of me, you know? I don’t expect him to just let off. He had a fast race car. But when you’re three laps down and then you door-slam the guy trying to pass; that’s what ticked me off is when he got loose underneath me and got up into me, I got pretty mad then.”
In Car Audio
MP3 Download – without spotter chatter
[audio:http://www.scannerbytes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Jeff-Gordon-2011-03-20-Jeff-Byrd-500-Bristol.mp3|titles=Jeff Gordon – 2011-03-20 – Jeff Byrd 500 – Bristol]
MP3 Download – with spotter chatter
[audio:http://www.scannerbytes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Jeff-Gordon-2011-03-20-Jeff-Byrd-500-Bristol-with-spotter-chatter.mp3|titles=Jeff Gordon – 2011-03-20 – Jeff Byrd 500 – Bristol – with spotter chatter]