As is the case with racing at Talladega Superspeedway, one mistake by another driver can end a promising day in seconds. Jeff Gordon was taken out of contention on lap 136 when Brad Keselowski spun into his line. Gordon posted a 39th place finish — his worst finish since Michigan in June 2013.
Gordon started 11th and stayed on the inside line in the opening stages. He ran behind Danica Patrick and drafted with her into the top-5. On lap 8, Gordon moved to the middle and led the event with a drafting push from Carl Edwards. The first caution waved on lap 14 when Brad Keselowski made contact with Patrick and spun entering turn 1. Gordon came to pit road for two tires and restarted in 3rd place. However, Gordon was caught in the middle lane and dropped to 11th by lap 23. Ten laps later he worked his way back into the top-5 on the outside line. By lap 50, he ran in 8th place prior to a debris caution. Pit stops followed with Gordon opting for four tires. Problems on the pit road dropped Gordon to 22nd in the running order for the restart. He moved up to 12th by lap 58 as he locked into a draft behind Trevor Bayne. Gordon re-entered the top-10 on lap 60. However, as is normally the case at Talladega, Gordon slipped to 15th in a drafting line by lap 65.
On lap 75, Gordon dropped back in the draft to 33rd place. He fell to 39th on lap 78 as he stayed behind the lead pack. He stayed in the rear of the field and ran 40th on lap 85. A round of green flag pit stops came on lap 96 with Gordon opting for two tires. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 18th place in the draft. A debris caution slowed the field on lap 105. Gordon restarted 32nd after getting boxed in his pit stall. He remained in the rear of the field after the restart and was content to log laps at the tail end of the draft. On lap 130, Gordon locked into a draft behind Paul Menard and moved into the top-20. On lap 136, Gordon was caught up in a melee coming out of turn 4 when Keselowski triggered a multi-car crash. The #24 car sustained heavy damage on the front and right side.
Gordon brought the damaged car to pit road for repairs before heading to the garage. He returned to the event and finished in 39th place, which snapped his streak of 11 consecutive top-15 finishes. Gordon remains the NASCAR points leader by 3 points over Matt Kenseth.
Gordon started moving from the rear with 60 laps to go, which put him in prime territory when Brad Keselowski spun up the track into his line.
“Oh man, we had a great car. The car always looks really good. This car was super-fast. (watching replay). Yeah, that is not the best angle and that’s what I saw. I could see where the 2 came from the outside lane and came back down to the inside lane, or middle lane, then wiggled and got turned. I would like to see a different angle to see what turned him. Not exactly sure why he was driving the way he was driving to begin with but obviously he was trying to get his lap back and felt that was the way to do it. It was unfortunate what happened to him early, but more unfortunate what happened to many of us in that incident.”
DID YOU FEEL IT WAS AGGRESSIVE EARLY BY ANYBODY?
“Danica (Patrick) made a mistake early. I don’t think that was an aggressive move I think it was just a mistake that got the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) turned (earlier in the race). She just misjudged him. Other than that I saw a fairly respectable race going on out there. We were battling up toward the front and everything was great. Our car was really good. Once we got shuffled to the outside lane and feel back it wasn’t worth it to me, we went to the back. We just felt like we were getting closer and closer to needing to get our way further to the front to get ready for that next pit stop. From that pit stop on it is on. You have to go for it. We got caught up in the wreck at that time.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THAT ACCIDENT?
“Not much I just saw the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) get turned. I had seen him for several laps driving over his head being pretty aggressive I guess trying to get his lap back. I knew he was laps down, but he wasn’t doing anybody any favors, nor himself. Then ultimately that was a wreck. I would like to see the video to know exactly what happened. Somebody might not have given him an inch there, but he was certainly taking probably more than he should have been in the situation he was in. I’m disappointed myself that we have all talked that we needed to get further to the front for that next pit stop. I don’t know if I had of waited a couple of more laps we might not have been in that one. We were making our way up there so I was pretty happy the progress we were making. Of course all it takes is one little incident like that and then you are in it.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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