Monday, October 24, 2016

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Hellman's 500 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

by Stacey Owens

Few things in life are actually frightening. Some people are afraid of thunderstorms. Others fear heights or falling from great heights. There are even some people who are afraid of clowns. (OK, I understand that one.) For Chase drivers who want to advance to the Round of 8, however, the idea of having to win at Talladega Superspeedway is terrifying.

Fortunately, the No. 22 team doesn't scare easily. The team came together at crunch time and worked all afternoon to make improvements to a car that wasn't exactly the best one on the track.

Crew chief Todd Gordon spoke about the day after the team's impressive win at the storied Alabama track.

"Just super proud of everybody on the Shell-Pennzoil team," Gordon said. "Didn't exactly have the racecar that had enough speed to start the race. We kept working on it. Had a little mishap with the jack there that first pit stop. Fortunately got a chance to get back and get it cleared up. Wasn't any damage to the racecar.
            
"Guys did a great job to cycle us out. Got us to lead there later on a pit stop cycle. Joey did a great job driving forward.
        
"Proud of everybody at Team Penske and the racecars they put forward. Obviously, Brad had a lot of speed today. We had it there at the end when we needed it. Just proud of everything there."


Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs


Of the eight teams that advance to the Round of 8, Logano drives the lone Ford of the bunch. Does Gordon view that as detrimental to his driver?

"I don't think so. I think the great part about Team Penske is we really operate as one team with multiple cars. The effort is no less because it's one and not two," Gordon said.
            
"I think if you looked at last year, once Brad got bumped out last year, they came back and were on a tear.
            
"There's no letdown in Paul, Brad, the whole Miller Lite team. They'll focus forward on making speed, which will challenge us and help us build a better notebook. Actually, in ways it's not a negative, and may be a positive. We're that much more open to each other."
            
The race was a must-win for Team Penske.

"It was a tough weekend to come here because we were both [Logano and Keselowski] out of the top eight. We both needed something to be successful. We kind of knew what it was. We worked together.
        
"But going forward, it's all about just wins and success. The whole team will continue the path that they've been on," Gordon explained.

Four teams are no longer on that path and will conclude their seasons out of championship contention, as eight teams soldier forward to Martinsville next weekend in hopes of advancing to the final round.

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     Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.
 

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