Jeff Gordon made a rare mistake Sunday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. A week and two days after he was added as the 13th driver in the Chase Gordon finished 6th at Chicagoland moving up six spots in the Chase 24 points out of the lead.
Sunday Gordon’s hopes to make up any ground took a big hit. After starting third Gordon quickly asserted himself and would go on to lead 36 laps. His hopes for a win however ended on lap 200 when Gordon, who was leading at the time, headed in for what should have been a routine pit stop during a debris caution. Gordon slid through his pits; NASCAR forced Gordon back in and he had to restart at the end of the longest line which was 22nd.
“I knew it was close. When I got in there, the front started to slide,” Gordon said. “And I knew I was carrying a little bit more speed. I knew it was going to be close but I was hoping it would stop just at the line. I saw the official react and I knew we were in trouble.”
Gordon was never able to make up the spots and ended the day 15th. Gordon said that once he fell back he knew making up spots would be tough.
“Well, I knew just from the way that the race was going, that passing was near impossible,” Gordon said. “And my car was a good race car, but it wasn’t a good passing car; not to mention the absolute chaos that goes on. The guys were four and five-wide running all over one another. Just being in the mix of that and trying to battle your way through each position was difficult enough. But our car, being back there, just different have the handling characteristics that we needed to pass cars. We had the handling characteristics of a car that needed good track position and we had it until I messed up.”
Even after the finish Gordon was able to remain positive despite losing 18 points a position in the Chase, and finding himself 42 markers out of first.
“Well, I’m excited with the way we’re performing,” Gordon said. “Chicago was great and this weekend was great and we just keep that up; we’re not far out of fourth. We lost quite a bit of ground to those guys up front but not too much as far as getting in the top 5 in points. I think we are very capable of doing it but the driver can’t make mistakes. Today was one of the days. This is a short race. Track position is so important. You can’t make mistakes. I made a crucial one and I can’t allow that to happen if we’re going to get ourselves in the top 5 in points this year.”
At the end of the day Gordon was able to clear his head.
“Oh, I’ve been doing this for 20-some years, man,” he said. “It’s not like I’ve never made mistakes before but you just hate to make them at a crucial time like that. So I’m very disappointed. And I’ll be disappointed until we get to Dover and start working on Dover.”