Although he is an accomplished master at NASCAR’s short tracks, Jeff Gordon has not won at Bristol Motor Speedway since 2005. For a time during Sunday’s Food City 500, it looked as though Gordon might finally break into the win column. It wasn’t to be however as Gordon suffered the same fate as several others late in the going.
From his 11th place starting position, Gordon was able to race his way into second by lap 95 of the 500. But he began to fade. Crew chief Alan Gustafson elected to take only two tires on a pit stop during a caution period on lap 322. That move put Gordon into the lead but would ultimately prove disastrous.
Gordon held the lead until lap 389 when the right front tire on his Chevy let go. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports car shot into the outside wall.
“Well we also wanted left sides (tires) because we heard left sides were helping the cars turn,” Gordon said. “We saw some of the guys do that. It definitely did that. The car was really good out front there on the restarts and got clean air. We were setting sail. The right fronts (tires) never blow out when you are up against the wall. “
“As soon as I went to go under a lapped car - boom - it popped down at the bottom of the race track and went all the way to the top, and we got the wall,” he added.
As the car hit the wall, it collected a hard charging second place runner Matt Kenseth in the process.
“I really hate that we collected Matt Kenseth in that; he had a great car,” Gordon said. “He was coming it was just a matter of time before it got us. We needed points. This is definitely not going to get us many.”
For his part, Kenseth, who won the week prior in Las Vegas, had no blame for Gordon.
“There was not a lot either one of us could have done about that,” Kenseth said. “But, really encouraged -- Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made awesome adjustments again. I thought we had that run the fastest car, one of the only cars that could pass out there today. And man, we just got a little behind and I just finally had it made up and wanted to be in the lead for that last pit stop so we could get ourselves some track position there and blew a tire right in front of us -- just nowhere to go. We had a great car again today. We just didn't make to the end unfortunately."
Both drivers ended the day in the garage, Gordon was scored 34th with Kenseth right behind in 35th.