Top-12 Finish for Gordon in No. 24 Axalta Racing Debut
While the No. 24 Axalta Racing Chevrolet driven by Jeff Gordon was fast, restarts were the Achilles Heel for the No. 24 team in Sunday's Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway. In position to battle for a top-10 finish in the closing stages, several late restarts cost Gordon and he finished 12th in the 160-lap race. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson won the event.
Gordon, who started 11th, fell to 17th before pit stops began at lap 25.
"I have no drive off (the corner)," said Gordon. "I'm loose all the way through (turn) 2 and all the way through (turn) 3."
After major chassis adjustments during a lap-28 pit stop, Gordon began making up positions while still battling a loose car. When the day's first caution waved at lap 65, the 87-time race winner was running 14th. Fast work by the crew gained Gordon another two spots, and he restarted 12th on lap 70. One lap later, he was down to 17th.
But the No. 24 Chevy SS would come to life after a few laps. Gordon, whose lap times were comparable to the leader, was again up to 14th when a caution waved at lap 124. Again the No. 24 pit crew gained him some spots, but again Gordon would lose those spots on the restart. After restarting 11th, he was down to 15th in one lap. Several laps into the run, the charge up the leaderboard would begin.
On lap 132, Gordon would gain two positions and move up to 12th and, on lap 137 when Brad Keselowski's car and Tony Stewart's car collided, Gordon would move up to ninth. But he lost three positions during two late-race restarts and finished 12th.
"The car was fast, but we just struggled too much on the restarts," said Gordon, who remained 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. "We just couldn't carry any speed for the first three laps after the green flag.
"And the restarts at the end did not do us any favors."
Next Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400. TNT and MRN Radio will broadcast the 1 p.m. EDT race live.
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