Jeff Gordon stood forlornly in his No. 24 team’s garage stall Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His chances at winning his final race at a special race track were rapidly disappearing.
Gordon watched as his crew diligently worked on repairing his Chevy – rebuilding is more like it – after Gordon spun and hit the wall on Lap 50.
The wreck, which was precipitated when Gordon took evasive action after Clint Bowyer spun in front of him, caused significant damage to Gordon’s car.
“We were just racing there on a restart,” Gordon said. “I was side-by-side with Kasey Kahne and I saw the No. 15 (Bowyer) get sideways and was just trying to avoid him and we both kind of got loose. I got loose. The car came around and it was just everything I could do to try to recover and not hit the No. 15. And then it spun around and got into the outside wall and tore-up the nose.”
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With all the technology available these days in motorsports, rubber hammers and duck tape did as much as anything to piece Gordon’s car back together. Ultimately, the front end was replaced with a new one, but the rear of the car was patched together with tape.
Gordon, who is retiring after this season, ended up finishing 42nd, 54 laps down. It was as bad a day as he’s ever experienced at Indianapolis, and was a sour end to a week that had been filled with farewells and goodbyes from the citizenry of a state he had moved to as a teenager.
“Today was an unfortunate day,” said Gordon. “It seems like in recent years it’s been kind of feast or famine for us here. But I tell you what, from the first time I came here all the way through last year and even this year the fans have been amazing, the experiences have been amazing, the wins. Everything has been incredible and I feel so fortunate to have just gotten an opportunity to race here. Certainly to have five wins here is just unbelievable as well.”