Sixth-Place Finish for Team DuPont at Pocono
Although Jeff Gordon finished sixth in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, it was a "little bit of a bummer" result for the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Leading with 30 laps to go in the event, Team DuPont elected to change four tires while other teams chose to change right-side tires only. Greg Biffle, one of those on new right-side rubber only, checked out once the race restarted to grab the victory.
Gordon, who qualified fourth, was leading the 200-lap event by lap 3. But teammate Jimmie Johnson passed him on lap 20, and Johnson built a commanding six-second lead as the race approached halfway.
But crew chief Steve Letarte kept adjusting on the No. 24 Chevrolet and, after a fast four-tire stop by the DuPont crew on lap 108, Gordon set his sights on the top position. He cut into Johnson's lead and passed the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion at lap 120.
On lap 146 during a caution period, Gordon again stopped for four new tires and chassis adjustments. He restarted fourth on lap 150, and was pacing the field one lap later.
He led until Mother Nature decided to make things interesting. Gordon was out front when rain briefly red-flagged the event, but the moisture quickly disappeared. Or did it?
With 30 laps to go, Letarte called Gordon onto pit road for four new tires. Many chose right-sides only, so the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet was forced to restart 11th. But the rain returned as the field circulated lap-after-lap under caution. Nine valuable laps were completed at a reduced rate before the track was dry enough to continue on lap 179.
After the restart, positions were hard to come by. Gordon was able to maneuver up to eighth by lap 185, and he bypassed Sam Hornish for seventh with four laps to go. One lap later, Gordon passed teammate Mark Martin for sixth - the final position he would gain before the checkered flag waved.
"I was hoping for more rain when we were leading," Gordon joked after the event. "We had a really good car today, and we made good adjustments on the DuPont Chevrolet during the event. The track temperature changed a lot with the clouds, the sun and the rain, so we did a really good job staying ahead of the track.
"We just needed a break there. If we knew nine guys were going to take right-side tires only, then we would have done the same. But everyone we were running with took four, and none of us were able to fight our way back to win the race.
"It was a little bit of a bummer (finish for us)."
Next Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Watkins Glen International for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. Gordon will enter the final road course event of the season second in the point standings. ESPN and MRN Radio will broadcast the 1 p.m. EDT race live.