Talladega, Ala., — If Jeff Gordon didn’t have bad luck he wouldn’t have any luck at all. Gordon sat on the pole for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, but ended up in the garage on lap 143 after a melee that sidelined several cars.
“This is just one of the most bizarre years that this team has ever gone through,” Gordon said. “It’s almost comical at this point.”
There was nothing comical about the incident that took out Carl Edwards, Aric Almirola, Dave Blaney, Juan Pablo Montoya, Landon Cassill, Terry Labonte, Joey Logano, Martin Truex, Jr., and Michael Waltrip.
The incident started when several cars began acting as if they were running out of fuel, but the fuel issues may have been a vapor lock rather than running the tank dry.
“We took off and the guy in front of me didn’t go, I let off and I got clobbered, it’s just chain reaction,” said Waltrip.
Almirola went on to finish 12th with only slight damage to the right quarter panel, but fuel issues with the No. 43 even though a fuel issue triggered contact with Blaney to begin the chain reaction. Edwards said it appeared as though some guys were running out of fuel.
“Going down in there in Turn 3 the guys in front of me stopped and it was just over,” said Edwards. “When people run out of fuel like that – I don’t know if they miscalculated their fuel mileage or if they were stretching it but that was really tough.”
Truex said they almost made it through the mess, but spinning down the track was the end of it.
“I think the 24 (Jeff Gordon) came along and hit us and that’s what really killed the car,” said Truex.
Gordon said he didn’t see what happened, but that there were bigger issues than fuel. Gordon was vocal earlier in the weekend after winning the pole award about cooling the cars and says the issue needs to be addressed.
“When you can’t even run in the fifth or sixth position because you are overheating or going to overheat,” said Gordon. “I think that we all knew coming in here that the opening on the grill and some of the things were probably not sufficient.”
“There is just that fine line between getting the temperatures right and not being able to push,” Gordon added. “To me right now we are teetering on the side of having to be just a little too conservative.”
Gordon would prefer being up front racing three-wide, and pushing cars.
“It’s just too risky at this point in the race,” Gordon said. “That is why we were in the back where we were.”