Gordon Survives Tire Nightmare to Finish 33rd at the Brickyard INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 28, 2008) - When the green flag fell for the 15th running of the Allstate 400 at the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the main concern on everyone's mind...
Gordon Survives Tire Nightmare to Finish 33rd at the Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 28, 2008) - When the green flag fell for the 15th running of the Allstate 400 at the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the main concern on everyone's mind was tire wear. Throughout the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, most teams struggled due to the tire compound chosen to race on the abrasive track surface, including the No. 7. Tires showed extreme wear after minimal laps had been completed. As a result, NASCAR informed the teams on Sunday morning that there would be many competition cautions to monitor the tire wear and ensure the safety of the drivers, with the first scheduled on Lap 10.
The first caution though came out before the scheduled competition yellow, when the No. 55 spun on the fourth lap. Gordon and the No. 7 Johns Manville / Menards team decided to stay out until the re-scheduled competition caution on Lap 14 in order to evaluate the tire wear on the short run.
The second caution came on Lap 14 when the No. 29 and No. 2 made contact in Turn 1, thus eliminating the need for the competition caution. While most teams came to pit road for two tires, the No. 7 team decided to take four tires. NASCAR prohibited teams from taking fuel until the next scheduled caution.
Gordon radioed his crew on Lap 26 that he feared he had a right rear flat. Wanting to take no chances, Gordon brought the No. 7 to pit road for right sides only on Lap 27. As soon as Gordon exited pit road, the yellow flag waved again. This time for the No. 42, who blew a right rear tire, putting Gordon one lap down.
This caution allowed teams to finally pit for fuel and a needed tire change. Even though the No. 7 team needed to pit for fuel, they decided to stick with their race strategy to take no chances. Gordon brought his Dodge back in for four fresh new tires and fuel, despite just stopping for right side tires prior to the caution.
During the fourth caution of the 160-lap race, Gordon was forced to enter pit lane early due to a right rear flat. As a penalty for pitting too early, he had to restart at the tail end of the longest line.
Due to the race that was unfolding on the hot, humid afternoon, Gordon decided that he needed to continue being conservative, so he backed off the gas quite a bit. He radioed to his crew chief that he was "just riding around," because he wanted the No. 7 would be around at the end of the race when it mattered. This strategy paid off when Gordon was awarded the Lucky Dog on Lap 98.
The remainder of the race became routine for the 43-car field. After roughly ten laps of green flag racing, NASCAR would throw a competition yellow. The tire wear did not improve for the No. 7 during the race as it did for some teams. Even though Gordon wasn't driving at full force, his tires still showed extreme wear each time he pitted.
The eleventh and final caution of the day flew on Lap 150. Together Gordon and his crew chief, Walter Giles, called for two right side tires for a shot at bringing home a top-20 finish. For the first time all day, the tires looked decent and showed little wear. Gordon decided that it was time to go racing in order to improve his finishing position. Unfortunately, the tires prevented Gordon from giving it all that he had.
When the checkered flag finally fell on Lap 160, Gordon brought the No. 7 Johns Manville / Menards Dodge home in 33rd position.
"We had a long, frustrating day. Tires kept blowing, and you couldn't really pass." Gordon said. "Our race strategy changed to a survival strategy to make sure that we finished the race, which isn't what we had in mind when we loaded for Indy. As the race progressed, I slowed down and just rode around, which isn't a good way to race. We continued to work on the car during the race, but we never really got it any better. Track position is really critical. We got stuck in the back early and never really made up any ground. Any ground we did make up on the track, we lost on pit road. It's really a big disappointment for our team. It wasn't very good racing, that's for sure."
Gordon and the No. 7 crew head to Road Atlanta to test both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week before going to Pocono.