Vegas Gamble Does Not Pay Off For No. 24 Team
Jeff Gordon battled a loose race car during much of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a late-race gamble to salvage a good finish did not pan out and he finished 25th. Matt Kenseth won the 267-lap race while Gordon's finish dropped him to 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
With qualifying rained out on Friday, the field was set by the final 2012 standings with Gordon rolling off 10th. But he voiced his concerns with the handling on the No. 24 Chevrolet immediately.
"I have no rear grip whatsoever," said Gordon. "I am dead loose when I'm on throttle."
Changes to the car on lap 45 helped "only about 20 percent," and Gordon continued to fall down the scoring pylon. By lap 135, he was running 20th and a lap down to the leaders.
When a caution waved on lap 194, crew chief Alan Gustafson asked Gordon to remain on the track. When the leaders pitted, Gordon gained his lap back and restarted 17th at the tail end of the field. Each driver would have to stop once more for fuel, but Gordon would be forced to stop earlier since he did not pit during the caution period.
That pit stop occurred on lap 216 and the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion returned to the track in 23rd--two laps down--with everyone else still needing to stop for fuel. Unfortunately, another caution waved seven laps later before pit stops had cycled through.
Mired in traffic, Gordon lost two positions after the ensuing restart and was unable to make up any more spots before the race ended.
"We definitely struggled with the handling today," said Gordon. "We're not happy with our performance, but we'll have to put this race behind us and focus and run well at Bristol next weekend."
Next Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. Fox and PRN Radio will broadcast the event live beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.
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