Desperate Gordon takes poke at tires
Jeff Gordon wasn’t pleased with his finish nor with the tire selection Goodyear used this weekend at New Hampshire.
Gordon finished sixth – not bad, but for a driver who desperately needs wins to make the Chase, it’s not going to help. Gordon remains 17th in the series standings.
“We’ve got to be up there battling for wins if we are going to make this Chase,” he said. “At the beginning I thought we were equally as good as anybody. From that second run on, it just went downhill.”
Gordon also hopes Goodyear makes a tire change before the fall race. “Goodyear has got to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “I’m hoping they can come up with something a little bit better than this.”
Not a great day for Ford: Sunday’s race wasn’t very good for the Ford camp and points leader Matt Kenseth.
Kenseth finished 13th and still leads the standings with a 16-point advantage over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Greg Biffle was the only Ford driver to finish among the top 10, finishing ninth. Carl Edwards, who finished runner-up in the title race last season, was 18th.
“It seems we struggle here as a company a little, but we were pretty good in the beginning,” Kenseth said. “We could never get it good enough to run with the real good guys, so then it’s really about pit-stop strategy and restarts.”
Penske stands with driver for now: Team owner Roger Penske said he will wait until A.J. Allmendinger receives the results of his “B” test before making any decisions on the driver’s future.
“You know, I’ve said it before, I’m more concerned about him as an individual than the situation,” Penske said. “The situation will take care of itself.”
Allmendinger was temporarily suspended last weekend after failing a random drug test. If his “B” sample also is positive, he will be indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.
Penske said if Allmendinger’s “B” sample is clean, he will return to the No. 22 Dodge immediately.
• This season’s Sprint Cup Series championship sure seems to be shaping up as another Hendrick Motorsports vs. Joe Gibbs Racing battle, much like 2010. Tony Stewart certainly will be in the mix – he has won three times – but as far as consistency goes, JGR’s Denny Hamlin is looking very stout as are Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at HMS. And regardless of the format, consistency still wins championships.
• If the black cloud ever lifted over Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Gibbs team this season, that group would also be a strong contender. Busch again was fast Sunday, leading the first 66 laps. But a pit-road speeding penalty and slow stop knocked him out of contention. Busch has the speed to win, he just can’t seem to get to the finish of races lately and in position to use it.
3 keys to victory
1. Kasey Kahne was fast all weekend, getting off to a good start by qualifying second-fastest.
2. Kahne stayed with Dennys Hamlin all day. He was right behind Hamlin after the first round of green-flag stops, behind Hamlin after pit stops on Lap 90, behind Hamlin after the second round of green-flag stops, and right behind Hamlin again after pit stops on Lap 191.
3. When Hamlin took four tires on the final stop, Kahne’s team got him out ahead of everyone who took two, and he grabbed the lead for the only time on Lap 236.
All the lead-lap cars pitted a final time on Lap 235, but whereas almost all took just two new tires, Hamlin stopped for four. Kahne then ran out to a big lead.
Things could have been different if …
Kyle Busch didn’t get caught speeding on pit road. He led the first 66 laps, but when making his first pit stop, he was too fast entering and his team had a slow stop. He ended up 16th.