16 February 2007
Press Snoop: Gordon wins before Room of Doom.
JEFF GORDON won the second Gatorade Duel on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, which helped set the field for Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup Daytona 500.
This was his fourth victory in the Duels, and his thirteenth win at Daytona, which has included four Daytona 500 races, and, in Victory Lane, Gordon admitted that the feeling was 'awesome'.
"I am so exited to be here in Victory Lane," he said, "It's neat to see things going our way right now. It's a great feeling to get back here into victory lane at Daytona."
His win Thursday would have put him on the outside of the second row for Sunday's Daytona 500 race but, as the old saying goes, it ain't over until the Fat Lady sings. While Gordon was in the media centre after his victory, his car was in the so-called Room of Doom, the technical bay in the NASCAR garage. JOHN DARBY, NASCAR Nextel Cup director, among others, was under the car, there were consultations with officials and Gordon's crew chief, STEVE LETARTE and, even before Gordon left the media Centre, word filtered back that there was a problem and that his car was illegal. Gordon seemed genuinely stunned, at first thinking it was a journalist joke. Then his face froze and he left for the garage.
After more than two hours of inspection and discussion, NASCAR's VP of competition, ROBIN PEMBERTON, announced the obvious. There was a problem. Gordon's car was indeed too low, and his penalty would be to start outside of the last row instead of outside the second row. The only person starting behind Gordon will be DALE JARRETT, who will take the first of his six allowed past champions provisionals.
Basically, Gordon's car was roughly an inch lower in the shock mount area in the rear. The serrations were misaligned, not matched up correctly, resulting with a loose pin, which could also be potentially dangerous if it fell off. The actual part was confiscated and added to the display in front of the NASCAR hauler - perhaps the largest ever such NASCAR display.
Unlike all the others caught out with technical violations this week, neither Gordon or his owner, RICK HENDRICK, will be fined or lose any points. NASCAR determined that the violation was unintentional but unsafe. Gordon is still the winner of Gatorade Duel 2, and he is the first Chevrolet caught in NASCAR's net.
Meanwhile, back at the race, the Busch brothers made a sandwich of DAVID STREMME, who finished third in the second Duel. KURT BUSCH finished second - the top Dodge - and little brother KYLE finished fourth.
MATT KENSETH finished fifth after starting last in the 31-car field - the top Ford. He was one of those penalised by NASCAR for technical violations. Kenseth said before the race that the violation was overblown and not such a big deal.
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