Jeff Gordon wound up having a pretty good day in Sunday’s Bank of America 500.
His teammates at Hendrick Motorsports couldn’t say the same.
While Gordon came in eighth place in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his three teammates all finished far back – two of them not even running at the finish.
“We didn’t even start off the race very good,” said Gordon, who started 22nd. “But with the sun being out and heating up the track, it moved around enough where we could maneuver through some traffic and work our way up there.”
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 28th – four laps behind race winner Joey Logano – after hitting the wall twice and developing handling issues.
Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson was 39th after falling out with engine problems while racing in the top three; and Kasey Kahne was 43rd – the first car out of the race – after hitting the wall twice.
Kahne was the first Hendrick driver to experience problems, brushing the wall on Lap 39 between Turns 1-2 when his right-front tire went down, costing him two laps in the pits. The tire would blow again on the 61st lap, sending him into the wall again, and bringing out the race’s third caution.
“We don’t know why either one of those tires went down,” Kahne said. “Obviously, we were doing something wrong to have two tire failures like that. It’s discouraging, but that’s the way it goes.”
That yellow flag also marked the start of Earnhardt’s problems – he brushed the first-turn wall on the restart after being bumped by Carl Edwards’ Toyota, and debris from his blown right-front tire brought out the fourth caution.
Earnhardt lost two laps making repairs, and even more time when he hit wall again on Lap 190 after getting into what he said was oil left by a broken line on Justin Allgaier’s Chevy that NASCAR officials missed.
“A lot of us went into Turn 1 on that restart, went around the speedy dry and right into the oil,” Earnhardt said. “That was the worst thing that could’ve happened to us, because we had gotten a lap back and was in position to race for the ‘Lucky Dog.’ Our day was over after that.”
Then there was Johnson, who had raced his way into the top five on Lap 80 after staying on the track during the race’s fourth caution. He was running third when his Chevy suddenly slowed on Lap 258, coasting onto pit road.
“We had a problem with the oil pump,” Johnson said. “It finally seized up, and then the engine tried to protect itself and only let me have 2,000 rpm. It’s a bummer – we had a fast race car. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the result we wanted.”