After a winning weekend at Martinsville on Oct. 27th that placed four-time Champion Jeff Gordon up to third in the NASCAR Chase Point Standings, Texas was the one to disrupt the momentum the driver and team had found.
So what caused the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet to hit the wall early on in the race on Lap 75?
Here’s Gordon’s take on it – (obtained via Team Chevy post-race interview transcript):
Q) ON WHAT HAPPENED?
Gordon: “I just know that the left front went down as I was going down the front straightaway. I felt it before I got there, and I just couldn’t get it slowed down enough. I don’t know; the wind was so strong that the car was doing funky things down the straightaways. I don’t know if that was a slow leak, or if it just went all of a sudden. Our car just didn’t take off very good, but boy was it strong on the long runs. We just needed to get some better track position; get on the inside on those restarts, and we actually had a really, really good race car. But, unfortunate. This is definitely going to hurt. We just get what we can out of this day and go on to Phoenix.”
A Goodyear Racing spokesman reported that Gordon’s tire “somehow lost air,” as there were no obvious cuts in the tread. In Gordon’s case, the spokesman said the sidewall over-deflected and separated at the belt edge and lost pressure.
Q) DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING WHATSOEVER?
Gordon: “It is hard to say. I drove around to come in the garage area, and sometimes that will do that. It didn’t give me enough of a warning, that is for sure. I was going down the front straightaway and I felt the car move around a little bit. That was odd. But, the wind was buffeting and blowing so strong, the cars are moving around anyway. Just before I got to turn one, I felt it go down. I did everything I could to slow it down. I even had time to come on the radio and say ‘Ut oh’. Well, I might have not said that, I said something else. I knew I was going to hit the wall. It is so unfortunate. This Drive to End Hunger No. 24 team has done such an amazing job. I am so proud of them to get us where we are. You just can’t have things like this happen if you are going to make a run at a championship or battle with those guys. We had a great race car. We just didn’t take off good on the restarts, but once we got going by eight to 10 laps into it, boy were we really strong.”
Gordon ran a total of 147 laps on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing 38th – 187 laps down.