At the outset of the Coca-Cola 600, Jeff Gordon struggled with handling, but he fully expected the handling on the #24 to be dialed in after nightfall. However, the car never performed to Gordon’s expectations and finished 15th in his final start in NASCAR’s longest race. At the front of the field, Carl Edwards scored his first win of the season and 24th of his career.
Gordon started 18th and worked his way into the top-15 by the end of lap 11. He ran 15th at the competition caution on lap 25. He restarted 13th on lap 30. Gordon took 11th from Jimmie Johnson on lap 36, but was unable to gain further ground. Paul Menard passed to take 11th on lap 64, and Greg Biffle sent Gordon back to 13th on lap 70. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 78 and cycled through in 18th place after adjustments. The next caution waved on lap 90 for Jimmie Johnson’s half spin in turn 4. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 21st on lap 94. He struggled on the restart and fell to 26th by lap 100. He steadily worked through traffic and ran in 21st place on lap 135. The third caution came on lap 136 for Justin Allagaier’s wall contact. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting in 19th place on lap 140. He picked up two spots after the restart to run 17th on lap 150. He came to pit road for a green flag stop on lap 188 and cycled through in 13th place. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 14th place as dusk enveloped the track.
A caution for Trevor Bayne’s wall contact on lap 230 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. A miscue on pit road resulted in Gordon coming back in to tighten lug nuts. He restarted in 17th place on lap 235 and gained one spot over the next 30 laps. The caution waved on lap 273 for Jimmie Johnson’s crash off of turn 4. The caution allowed Gordon to make up a 20-second gap to the leader. Pit stops ensued with Gordon restarting in 15th place on lap 278. Ryan Blaney’s engine expired on lap 281 to bring out another caution. Gordon stayed on the track while most of the lead lap cars pitted. He restarted in 8th place with 110 laps to go. Gordon moved to 7th on the restart, but fell to 9th at the 300-lap mark as Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski passed. He rebounded to take 8th from Matt Kenseth with 91 to go, albeit briefly as Kurt Busch passed two laps later. Kasey Kahne sent Gordon back to 10th with 85 to go. A caution with 72 to go for Michael Annett’s spin brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon exited pit road in 11th place. However, he faded to 14th just a lap after the restart. A caution for Ricky Stenhouse’s wall contact slowed the field with 64 to go. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 13th place.
With 40 to go, Gordon moved to 12th with a move around Austin Dillon. He advanced to 11th when Denny Hamlin pitted with a loose wheel. As drivers began pitting, Gordon moved into the top-5 with 20 laps to go. He ran 3rd behind Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle with 19 to go. Gordon came to pit road with 18 to go and opted for 2 tires. He cycled through in 16th place and finished the event in 15th.
“I never could get track position. We got it one time and held on to it OK and, I have no idea what sequence of events happened there at the end for us to finish 15th. That was a lot of darn work for us to finish 15th.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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