PIR notebook: Luck not with Gordon this time - East Valley Tribune: Sports

PIR notebook: Luck not with Gordon this time

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Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:39 am | Updated: 11:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Last spring at Phoenix International Raceway, the breaks went Jeff Gordon’s way and he snapped his 0-for-16 string on the mile oval by posting his 76th career win.

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A lucky break on a pit stop just before a caution saved him from falling a lap behind and actually gave him the lead heading into the restart.

Such luck wasn’t there Saturday night in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Gordon, starting 11th, was pumped heading into the race, having discovered a setup late in Friday’s final practice that had his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet handling quite well.

But come race time, his car was loose handling, and his pit timing was also off early in the race when he made a green-flag stop and got caught in the pits when the caution flag came out. That put him a lap down, and made it a long shot to repeat his 2007 spring win.

“Yeah, we missed it at the start and we were real loose,” Gordon said. “And we got caught on pit road and that didn’t do us any favors.”

Gordon eventually got his lap back midway through the race, but didn’t have enough car to reach the leaders. He finished 13th.

“I was proud of the fact that we were able to fight back,” Gordon said.

BABY TIME

The Sprint Cup Series takes next weekend off, but Jeff Gordon and his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, don’t have anything exotic planned during the rare in-season down time.

Their daughter, Ella Sofia, will get most of the attention.

“Nothing but baby time planned,” Gordon said. “We don’t have any plans for going anywhere. We are just going to stay home. I don’t know, do some spring cleaning (laughs). Just hang out, relax.”

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup drivers had Easter Sunday off, and after this off-week, their next break isn’t until mid-July. “We have been traveling so much, we just wanted to really do as little as possible,” Gordon said.

NO NEED TO ORGANIZE

Several drivers this weekend expressed the need for a tougher drug-testing policy after learning that suspended Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike told ESPN The Magazine that he used heroin the day of a race last July.

But with no driver organization, the drivers have little power to persuade NASCAR on certain labor issues like drug testing.

And while Jeff Burton favors a tougher drug-testing policy, he also believes the way to get any labor issue changed in NASCAR isn’t through the creation of a driver organization.

“My fear in the drivers having an organization is that a group of drivers with power isn’t necessarily in our sport’s best interest.”

He cited the example of the NBA players union’s negotiated drug policy from a few years ago that does not suspend players testing positive for marijuana until the third positive test.

“One of the reasons that the drug-testing policies in other sports have been really lax is that the players, players unions and the players union representatives put up huge fights about (drug testing)…

“That’s an example of how I don’t believe that a group of athletes that have power over a sport, can force the sport into decisions that aren’t good for the sport.”

PIT STOPS

Grammy-nominated quintet Emerson Drive sang the national anthem prior to Saturday’s race. …

Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, still looking svelte 10 years after dropping 200-plus pounds eating sandwiches, gave the command for drivers to start their engines.

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