Gordon Gets The Chicago Blues

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JOLIET, Ill. - It’s a pretty good bet Jeff Gordon wasn’t whistling “My Kind of Town” on his way out of Chicagoland Speedway.

A lost cylinder late in Sunday’s Tropicana 400 dropped the three-time Winston Cup champion to 17th in the final standings. The disappointing finish wiped out his 48-point advantage in the season standings and allowed Dale Jarrett to move up to tie Gordon for the lead.

“I’m just thrilled to beat Todd Bodine,” said a frustrated Gordon after the inaugural Chicago race. “We were outrunning him on the racetrack, but it was a tough day. We fought hard today to get from way back there in the field to the front. All we needed was a little bit better track position.”

After finishing 37th at Daytona last week, the Chicago run was particularly upsetting to Gordon and his DuPont team. “We’re going through a tough time right now, but as long as we’re tied for the points lead, we’ll take that.”

Jarrett’s fourth place finish at Chicagoland was his third Top 5 in the last six races. After losing the championship points lead to Gordon at Dover in early June, the 1999 champ has crawled back into the title hunt.

“We had a good car all day, the guys did a great job,” said Jarrett. “The key was getting track position because the cars would get an aero push. You just had to do what you could. We got two tires and that made my car a little tight, but we’re pleased with the run and especially the finish.”

While Jarrett has somewhat quietly gotten back to the title lead, Ricky Rudd has been on a tear of late to pull within 18 markers of the leaders. Rudd has finished in the Top 5 in four of the last five races and seems rejuvenated since his Pocono win in mid-June.

“I owe it to this Texaco Havoline team,” Rudd said after his third place Chicago run. “Everyone on this team, I owe them a lot. We came back from a long way today, we had a great racecar but I found we were too tight. We pushed all day and they kept freeing up the car. We got four tires when most everybody else got two and it ended up turning out to be the way to go at the end of the race.”

So the championship chase moves to New Hampshire International Speedway, a track where all three title contenders have experienced success. Gordon, for one, can’t wait.

“I’m looking forward to Loudon and to every track we race at,” he said. “The guys at the shop are working hard getting us ready for New Hampshire, We’ve got to do something there. We’ve got to make up a little bit of the ground that we lost here.”


Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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