FORT WORTH, Texas – Jeff Gordon said it has been a long time since he had a day like he had Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I haven’t felt this lost at a race track since my rookie year,” said Gordon, a four-time Cup Series champion whose rookie season was in 1993 – more than 500 races and 81 victories ago.
“I can’t remember the last time we struggled this bad.”
Gordon started 18th in the Samsung 500, but 12 laps into the race he was 36th and literally just having trouble getting the No. 24 Chevrolet around the race track.
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Gordon lost control in Turn 4 on Lap 107 and spun into the wall. He took his car directly to the garage and spent more than 100 laps before going back out to see if they could do anything to solve the problems that plagued them here all weekend. Gordon did return but made only six laps before coming in again.
After more changes, he tried again but after a few more laps he parked for the day.
Gordon completed just 124 laps and finished 43rd. It’s only the second time in Gordon’s career he’s finished last in a Cup race – the other time was at this track in 1999.
“We’ve tried every set-up we can find but none of them seems to work,” Gordon said.
“I was just hanging on every single lap. You get frustrated. The car is not doing what you want it to do. You’re trying to figure stuff out and change your line and everything and I lost control and got into the wall.”
Gordon has won at every track where the Cup circuit now races except for Texas and Homestead. He had finished outside the top 10 here just three times in his past 10 starts here, but Gordon said he just does not have this place figured out.
“We have been very hit or miss here,” Gordon said. “If the car is pretty close at this race track, I am terrible. I can’t get around this track, I don’t know what it is.
“I just don’t think I have ever been very good at Texas, that is why we’ve never won here. We have had our moments when the car has been really good. But you know what, when the car is off I am lost here.”
Gordon’s struggle Sunday at Texas was eerily similar to the way Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson’s car was so far off at Las Vegas that he finished two laps down in 29th.
“It’s the same sensation he (Johnson) was feeling,” Gordon said. “It’s just boggling my mind. There are some crazy set-ups going on in these cars right now and I guess when you don’t hit it right it’s not too much fun.”
But Gordon said he doesn’t think the problem his team faced Sunday was all about missing a set-up. Johnson ran in the top five much of the day and Gordon’s team had a very similar set-up to the one Johnson was running.
“Nothing we have done has fixed the problem we are having,” Gordon said. “We have never felt anything like this. ...Something else is going on and we are trying to figure it out. ...We have to find it because we can’t go through the year like this.”