Tag:Jeff Gordon
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:40 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:25 am

Video: Jeff Gordon blows an engine

Jeff Gordon


"There has been so much reliability testing that if we had seen some high temps or some high water pressure, then I would have kind of expected some of this to happen. But, I was actually seeing some surprising low temps and low pressures. I don't know, maybe something was off there.

"Boy, it is a shame. Our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong. We were just biding our time and being patient and working with guys. Every once in a while we could get up there to the front. But, we weren't even really trying at that time.

"You're racing out there, but in order to actually make a big move to get to the lead, you have to push. Then you do take a risk of getting the temps up. It just wasn't time to do that. But, we were in a great position. Great pit stop there.

"I just have to thank Drive To End Hunger for everything they do for all the older Americans dealing with hunger issues. Thank DuPont. Thank Pepsi Max and Chevrolet; all of our sponsors. This is not the way we wanted to start the season or the Daytona 500. So we'll go on to Phoenix."


"My temps were looking good. Temps are such an issue here right now at Daytona. But all the temps looked good. All the gauges looked good. Just kind of came out of nowhere. First it popped and then it went up in a big ball of flames. So, you know that is down in the bottom end, and that is never good. So, I knew our night was done for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I can't thank them enough for all they do for the older Americans dealing with hunger issues; DuPont and Pepsi Max, Quaker State, Chevrolet; all of our sponsors.

"Gosh, I am just so disappointed. It's not the way we wanted to start this season or the Daytona 500, and it is a shame to be out like this."


"Well, lap one got everybody's attention. I don't know what happened. Who got in the back of Jimmie (Johnson). I just saw him get turned sideways. After that everybody was using their heads. You have got guys that are racing the bottom line and trying to manage their temperatures. Then, you have got guys on the outside that are able to manage their temps a little bit better, which is where I was. But, it takes a little bit more of kind of a team effort to get that lane up to the front. Most everybody that I was around looked like they were just doing what they needed to do to get to the end of this race. I can promise you, the end of this race is going to be intense. I was really looking forward to being a part of that battle."


“The good thing is you can go back-up your temps and everything. My gauges all looked good. I was not having any temp issues at all and no water pressure issues. If anything, it was alarmingly low. We are going to diagnosis that and we can get a lot more information with the new EFI system. Anytime you have a failure like this you want to get as much information, valuable information; that you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”


“Yeah, that was strange. I haven’t seen it. I just saw Jimmie (Johnson) get turned and it was really unfortunate for him. I know some other people got caught up in that. From that point on, everybody was really being calm and using their heads. The race was going along really smooth. The bottom line seemed to be able to maintain a little bit faster pace, but guys had to watch their temps a lot more. The outside lane had to work together as a team a little bit more to try to get up there, but you didn’t have to watch your temps as much. We were in the perfect position as far as I am concerned. It’s calm right now. It’s going to get insane. The only way you are going to be able to win this race is to really push hard. The cars, especially if the tires have some laps on them, they don’t drive very well when you start pushing.”

Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:30 pm

Hopes high at Hendrick Motorsports

By Pete Pistone

  Rick Hendrick(R), Owner Of Hendrick Motorsports, And Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet,
(Johnson is hungry to bring Hendrick another Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012 - Getty Images)

Jack Roush
put his entire stable of then five Sprint Cup Series drivers into the 2005 Chase field. 

NASCAR has since forced team owners to dial back to a four-car operation, but Rick Hendrick believes there’s no reason why his whole fleet can’t make this year’s playoffs. 

Optimism always runs high at this time of the season as organizations prepare for the upcoming campaign. But Hendrick is unusually pumped up about the prospects for 2012 and what the quartet of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and newcomer Kasey Kahne can accomplish. 

I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t have all four cars in the Chase and I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I can’t remember having four teams this solid, this strong, at the beginning of the year. 

“I think we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been and if we don’t get it, it's going to be our fault.” 

After a season that saw Johnson’s five year reign as Sprint Cup Series champ come to a halt, the entire Hendrick group seems to be re-energized to put the team back on top again in 2012. 

Hendrick’s positive outlook that the goal can be accomplished in due in large part to the elimination of some unknown quantities that lingered heading into the 2011 effort. 

"Looking at last year, I didn't know how Dale and (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) were going to work,” Hendrick said. “I didn't know how Jeff and (crew chief Alan (Gustafson) were going to work. I thought they would be good, and they were much better than I anticipated. 

"I had Mark (Martin), knowing it was his last year. I had Kasey waiting to come. I didn't know if we were going to get (crew chief) Kenny (Francis), and then I get Kenny and their engineer and Kasey, and they are here and they're fitting in like they've been here forever. Then all of the sudden, I know, I've got a better 88 team. I've got a better 24 team. I've got a pissed-off 48 team, and I've got a something-to-prove 5 team with a guy who had one of the best Chases of anybody. So that gives me the confidence that, if we don't blow it up, we're going to be good." 

Johnson has made no bones about the fact that he’s using last year’s result as motivation for the coming season. The anger that came from not having his name engraved on the Sprint Cup trophy for the first time in five seasons is pushing Johnson hard at the dawn of a new year. 

“Yeah, and we're pissed off at ourselves," said Johnson. "There could be a lot of good coming from this." 

Johnson sees it as a time to learn from mistakes and in a way re-invent himself as a driver. 

“Through losing the championship last year, I think I can strip some layers down and figure out how to do things differently,” he said. 

“There’s a lot that I’ve thought about and once I get into the season I’ll know more and really be able to work through those things,” Johnson continued. “But I feel like over the five years of winning championships, there are certain things, even as basic as the way I approach a weekend and the notes I take and what I do from a driver’s standpoint, that’s all been well documented. Every driver does it now. Were they doing it then? No.

“I need to find new ways to do a better job as the driver of the 48 car and that’s what this year is about for me. That’s what this offseason was about for me. Really, the first half of the season is going to be about understanding how I can do my job better.” 

Earnhardt thinks he and the entire No. 88 team can also do better. Although they made tremendous improvements last season in a performance that saw Earnhardt make the Chase and ultimately finish seventh in the final standings, the sport’s Most Popular Driver sees even more success in 2012. 

“We definitely took a step in the right direction with the changes we made last year,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t know what our potential is past that, but we’re going to work hard to see if we can find it and find more and be more competitive. We were close to winning a few races and hadn’t had that in a long time.

“Working with Steve, he gave me the opportunity, whether it was our strong performance or his strategy, one way or another, he’s given me the chance I didn’t have. I felt closer to winning than I felt before.” 

Gordon was able to win and once he broke the winless drought he was engulfed in the previous season, the four-time champion showed several flashes of brilliance throughout the schedule. 

He also brings a great deal of confidence into 2012 after last season’s effort and shares his employer’s optimism about the entire organization. 

However with that view there does come a bit of stress. 

“I agree with Rick, it’s the strongest combination we’ve ever had coming into a season, and when you see that, it gives you some pretty high expectations and puts the pressure on,” Gordon said. 

Kahne and Francis don’t appear to be feeling any pressure as the new kids in the house. The duo has already made it clear they are quite at home at Hendrick turning in a very impressive Daytona testing performance last month. 

Kahne knows there will be growing pains but believes he is in the best position of his Sprint Cup career to excel.

“It definitely takes time because it's all different,” Kahne said. “The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny, that's something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn't take us too long. 

“The biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I just need to make the best out of it” I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever.” 

Hendrick has ten Sprint Cup championship trophies in his possession and the way he sees it not getting number eleven last season may actually have been a good thing overall.

“Getting beat sometimes is not a bad thing,” he said. “If you’re a very competitive company, you got to know you’ve got to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. So we’re motivated.” 

That could be bad news for the rest of the Sprint Cup garage area.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 12:14 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 12:23 pm

NASCAR closer to Daytona rules package

By Pete Pistone

  A Group Of Cars
(Whether this year's Daytona 500 features the two car tandem draft or the old school pack racing remains to be seen)

The January science experiment is over and now the NASCAR professors need to sift through the data. 

Last week’s three day Preseason Thunder test session at Daytona gave NASCAR officials a lot to digest before coming back to officially start the season next month at Speedweeks. 

“Once we leave here, obviously there will be a lot of energy spent on looking through all of the data that we've collected this week, looking through lap times and speeds and watching film and footage like everybody else does,” said Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby

“You know, I would like to have the final rules package out as quickly as we can just to make sure the teams have enough time to react to everything I guess is the right way to put that.  And we'll do our due diligence and get it out as fast as we can.” 

A variety of rules and adjustments were used during the three-day session in hopes of coming up with the best competitive package possible for the biggest race of the season – the Daytona 500. 

“Our goal and our responsibility is to try to make decisions so that the racing is as good as everybody expects it to be or better during the Daytona 500,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton at last week’s test.

“That's the one variable that all the teams, once they get through doing everything they think they can accomplish and get done, all of them know let's wait and see what NASCAR does. We have a reputation for [changing things], but it's all in the best interest of having the best racing on the race track that we can deliver.” 

NASCAR has made it no secret part of the process during the test was to find a way to if not eliminate at least limit the two-car tandem draft. There were several times when the sanctioning body encouraged drivers to spend time in the more traditional pack that had been the restrictor plate track norm before the tandem style became so predominant.

Most drivers understand the reason for NASCAR trying all it can to bust up the tandems. 

“We’re all about making a better show for the fans, and I feel like they like to see pack racing,” said Denny Hamlin. “They don’t like to see the cars strung out as much as it was with the tandem, and I think speeding these race cars up is going to do that.” 

While most of the pack sessions during the test went off relatively well – there were a few minor incidents involving the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Juan Pablo Montoya – it remains to be seen whether the large groups will return under actual racing conditions. 

“Yeah, that's a hard question because you don't know what pleases all folks, and everybody has got a difference of opinion,” said NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton no doubt referring to both drivers and fans.  “So I think there will be a solid mix of all kinds of things, and you never know.  In today's world something else might pop up that becomes the advantage for a driver, a team, a group.  We'll see.   
“But so far, we like what we've seen.  It's been a good mix of what they can do in a larger pack and how close they can get for a limited time to push.” 

Of all the changes used at the test including a smaller spoiler, softer springs and different sizes of restrictor plates, modifications to engine cooling systems as an effort to limit the push Pemberton refers to is the most controversial. 

Smaller radiators and overflow tanks helped engine temperatures soar after only a handful of laps when the second car was tucked behind the rear bumper of the tandem leader. 

The magic number at the test appeared to be in the seven to eight lap range before drivers had to bring some fresh air into the engine compartment. 

“I think that if we get it figured out how to maintain those temps, then you will, you'll see it all day long,” said Jeff Gordon. “But it looks like it's more challenging, more difficult, and especially if we're in a pack trying to do it. 

"I'm not saying it's going to be eliminated, but I don't think it's going to be what we've seen in the past. I think you're going to see more pack racing, more cars driving in packs, and the 500 is a long race. Survival is important, and you've got to figure out what is going to get you there to the end so that you can hook up with somebody and win the race.”

But even with potential limitations, as Gordon points out don’t expect drivers to magically stop using the tandem draft come Speedweeks. Most all believe that despite the changes, the style will remain in the arsenal to be used as an advantage when possible.

What everyone does agree on is for NASCAR to not get involved in outlawing the tandem or having to police its use during a race.

"Anytime you tell us not to do something then when we do it, it's up for a judgment call after that," said Hamlin. "That's why they don't want to get into making rules about it.

"They want to fix it by fixing the rules to where it's not as beneficial as it was before. They have closed the gap - no doubt about it."

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 6:34 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 12:41 pm

Preseason Thunder comes to a close

By Pete Pistone

Jeff Gordon found his way to the top of the speed charts again on Saturday afternoon as Preseason Thunder testing wound up at Daytona International Speedway.

Gordon's top lap of 200.562 mph was the best of the afternoon session, the sixth and final one of the three day gathering in Daytona.

A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

NASCAR was pleased with the January test as the sanctioning body puts together a rules package for teams to race with when Speedweeks in February kicks off the season at Daytona.

NASCAR's vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said he appreciated the input and work from the teams and is confident a competitive package will be in place in time for the Daytona 500.

"We have all worked hard to find what we feel works and doesn't work," said Pemberton. "I'm very happy, we all are, with where we've landed after the time spent down here and I believe when we come backl for Speedweeks we'll have a competitive landscape for everyone."


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Posted on: January 14, 2012 2:34 pm

Opening Saturday session led by Jeff Gordon

By Pete Pistone

Jeff Gordon continued his fast Preseason Thunder practice at Daytona International Speedway leading Saturday's first session.

Gordon, who topped Thursday's opening round, turned a lap of 201.545 mph.

Teams used the smaller restrictor plate that started the three-day test in favor of the larger plate NASCAR introduced during Friday's two sessions.

Mostly single car runs and a few two-car tandems were the order of the session with more pack drafting expected Saturday afternoon, which will be the last on track time at Daytona before Speedweeks rolls around in February.


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Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:02 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 3:11 pm

Jeff Gordon leads first Daytona test session

By Pete Pistone

Daytona Preseason Thunder testing kicked off Thursday morning with the first session of the three day gathering at Daytona International Speedway.

Single car runs were the order of the opening session and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon was fastest of the 31 cars that recorded times.

Thursday's afternoon session will include drafting and give drivers, teams and NASCAR a better idea of how the many rule changes put into play in hopes of breaking up the two-car tandem will work.

Session 1

1. Jeff Gordon: 192.773 m.p.h.
2. Paul Menard: 192.369 m.p.h.
3. Kurt Busch: 192.361 m.p.h.
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 191.959 m.p.h.
5. Juan Pablo Montoya: 191.853 m.p.h.
6. Jimmie Johnson: 191.763 m.p.h.
7. Greg Biffle: 191.542 m.p.h.
8.  Danica Patrick: 191.473 m.p.h.
9. Jeff Burton: 191.412 m.p.h.
10. Trevor Bayne: 191.400 m.p.h.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 191.388 m.p.h.
12. Tony Stewart: 191.359 m.p.h.
13. Kyle Busch: 191.339 m.p.h.
14. Joey Logano: 191.249 m.p.h.
15. Ryan Newman: 191.042 m.p.h.
16. Denny Hamlin: 190.994 m.p.h.
17. Matt Kenseth: 190.945 m.p.h.
18. Kasey Kahn: 190.840 m.p.h.
19. Kevin Harvick: 190.775 m.p.h.
20. Clint Bowyer: 190.682 m.p.h.
21. Mark Martin: 190.577 m.p.h.
22. Marcos Ambrose: 190.525 m.p.h.
23. Aric Almirola: 190.456 m.p.h.
24. Jamie McMurray: 190.400 m.p.h.
25. Regan Smith: 189.978 m.p.h.
26. AJ Allmendinger: 189.797 m.p.h.
27. Carl Edwards: 189.733 m.p.h.
28. Brad Keselowski: 189.458 m.p.h.
29. Casey Mears: 189.442 m.p.h.
30. Martin Truex Jr.: 188.945 m.p.h.
31. Joe Nemechek: 186.320 m.p.h.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 1:47 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 3:46 pm

2011 Team Review/Preview: Hendrick Motorsports

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Jimmie Johnson's run for a sixth straight Sprint Cup Series championship in 2011 came up short for Hendrick)


For the first time since the 2005 season Hendrick Motorsports did not celebrate a Sprint Cup championship. 

Jimmie Johnson’s amazing run of five straight titles came to an end last season putting a period on one of the most incredible accomplishments in sports. 

"Just thinking about it, like wow, it really is over," Johnson said. "I'm disappointed that it is over but very proud of what this team has done. What we have done over the last, really, 10 years, the last five obviously stand out, but what we have done as a group over the 10-year run so far has been truly amazing." 

Johnson did make the Chase as did his Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. but none of the trio was really able to mount a run at the title. 

Johnson’s regular season included 17 top five finishes including a victories at Talladega and Kansas. But once the playoffs began, Johnson could not muster the championship magic that brought him titles from 2006 through 2010. 

“We had a lot of things that happened with the wreck in Charlotte and Talladega,” team owner Rick Hendrick said analyzing Johnson’s Chase performance. “We played our cards wrong at Talladega, our whole organization did, to have cars as good as we had and end up where we did. But that’s racing. I think when you’ve tasted the success they have, and now you’ve been beat, you’ve got to go to work, and you’ve got to come back stronger.”

Jeff Gordon came back to perform stronger in 2011 than he has in recent years and scored three victories with new crew chief Alan Gustafson. 

It marked the first time Gordon had put together a multiple win season since 2007. 

Gordon’s victory in the second race of the season at Phoenix kicked off the solid season that also included wins at Pocono as well as an historic effort at Atlanta when the four-time series champion registered his eighty fifth career victory.

The win put Gordon alone in third-place on the all-time series victory list and he was overwhelmed by the presentation from NASCAR president Mike Helton in victory lane.

"Everybody knows when Mike Helton speaks he has a way with words," Gordon said. "So to be up there, get presented that beautiful plaque that they put together with all the victories, just looking back on all the people that have contributed to it from Hendrick Motorsports, different crew chiefs and crew members and guys in the engine shop. I mean, it’s a team effort." 

But despite carrying tremendous momentum into the Chase, Gordon stumbled and in the end was eighth in the final point standings. 

"It's just disappointing because I feel like Alan is a guy that deserves a championship and deserves to be up there battling for one,” Gordon said. “He proved it with Mark (Martin) and I thought we were going to prove it this year with the way we were running leading into the Chase so it's disappointing, but I'm hoping that next year now having a year under our belt and we get along well. I've got just a ton of respect and belief in him and I feel the same thing is in return that puts us in position to have a great year next year." 

Like Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoyed a comeback season that saw the sport’s perennial most popular driver make the Chase for the first time in three seasons. 

While Earnhardt wasn’t able to end his now three year winless drought, he was as competitive as he’s ever been during his tenure at Hendrick and finished the campaign seventh in the standings. 

Earnhardt gave much of the credit for his turnaround to the relationship shared with new crew chief Steve Letarte, who took the reigns of the No. 88 team last season. 

"We just have a lot in common and our personalities make it where it seems like it's easy for us to have a conversation," Earnhardt said. "I've been spending a ton of time around the hauler all day long during each day on Friday and Saturday and when you're sitting there you just never know when that idea or that thought is going to come into your head or come into [Letarte's] head about what might really be able to help the car.

"And if you just sit around long enough, eventually it's going to pop up and I want to be there for that conversation; I don't want him texting me on the phone while I'm in the bus going, 'Hey, I think I know what we can do.' I want to be there so that I can understand and talk about it. I think that's helping us." 

Unfortunately the lone Hendrick driver to not make the Chase last season was veteran Mark Martin, who ended his tenure with the organization in 2011.

Martin and crew chief Lance McGrew struggled to find the right balance most of the season. Martin, who will join Michael Waltrip Racing next season, finished the year with only a pair of top 5 finishes.



Martin’s departure makes way for Kasey Kahne to take the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet. After a one year stint at Red Bull Racing, which included a November victory at Phoenix, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis bring their considerable chemistry to the Hendrick organization.

"I'll be so excited and happy to get back in a race car, it's crazy," Kahne said. "Joining Hendrick is exciting. It feels good. They've given me such a good opportunity, I need to take full advantage of it and perform. It may take a little bit of time to figure everything out, but I think we can get off to a pretty quick start."

Kahne figures to be a formidable foe for all of his Hendrick teammates including Johnson, who is using the end of his championship streak as motivation in 2012.

“We have a lot to learn from this year and [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] and I have already been in meetings throughout this last week setting up wish lists of what we think we can do better, how we can do a better job at it,” Johnson said. “We are moving forward on next year and figuring out how we can dissect weak spots, if it is on track, you know pit calls have changed dramatically this year, what can I do differently as a driver, all those different components, we are addressing and working on them now.”

Gordon also plans on taking what was accomplished in 2011 as a foundation to build for a better new season.

"It's easy for us to be hanging our heads and think about the disappointments, but I'm also reminded and encouraged of how great of a year this has been for us," Gordon said. "With the three wins -- we did have incredible momentum coming into the Chase so I think as a competitor and as a race team, we certainly are very focused on what we did wrong and what we're going to do to make it better next year."

And season number two of the Earnhardt-Letarte combination also comes with high hopes from the duo.

“We learned a lot last year and had some success,” said Letarte. “We didn’t finish the job by winning races or the championship but I’m very convinced this race team can accomplish those goals in 2012.”


Only by Hendrick’s high standards could 2011 be considered a down season for the organization. That will happen when you take home five straight titles. But the entire four-car stable should all be considered championship contenders heading into the new season and the entire quartet could very well be in the Chase. All eyes will be on newcomer Kahne as he finally gets an opportunity to run with a stable and solid team, something that was missing during his tenures at Richard Petty Motorsports and Red Bull. Johnson is determined to snap back to championship form while Gordon and Earnhardt bring positive momentum and confidence into 2012. Overall this powerhouse team will be a major factor in the coming season.


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Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:05 pm

Jeff Gordon top NASCAR collectable seller

By Pete Pistone

The list of ten best selling die-cast cars came out Monday from Lionel NASCAR Collectables and the winner was.....Jeff Gordon with the No. 24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet:

The full rundown:

1. Jeff Gordon No. 24 AARP/Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet

2. Kevin Harvick No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet

3. Trevor Bayne No. 21 Motorcraft Daytona Win Ford

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 Amp Energy Chevrolet

5. Tony Stewart No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet

6. Dale Earnhardt No. 96 Cardinal Tractor Ford

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 National Guard Heritage Chevrolet

8. Tony Stewart No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88 Dale Jr. Foundation/Vh1 Save the Music Chevrolet

10. Kevin Harvick No. 29 Budweiser Military Tribute Chevrolet

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Category: Auto Racing
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