J. Gordon looking for friends on track

THE BALTIMORE SUN

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Jeff Gordon had a once-in-a-decade kind of performance Saturday night in the Pepsi 400.

He finished 40th.

The last time he placed that low in a race at Daytona International Speedway came a more than a decade ago, in February 1996, when he placed 42nd in the Daytona 500.

In that race, Gordon ran just 13 of 200 laps. In the Pepsi 400 on Saturday, he made it 154 laps - and led for 27 - before a four-car collision knocked him out.

Also involved in the wreck were Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and J.J. Yeley.

"The guys were getting a little bit out of control there those last few laps," Gordon said. "And [a wreck] is usually what happens when guys drive like that."

Gordon entered the race at No. 8 in the Nextel Cup points standings. Daytona, though, hasn't been his place to shine this season. Gordon finished 26th at the Daytona 500 in February.

The recent performances are uncharacteristic of a driver who has six Cup victories at Daytona.

"It was just frustrating on a lot of levels," said Gordon, who attributed some of his problems to a lack of drafting help. "I definitely am going to have to go make some friends in the garage. I think me and [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] - neither one of us have any friends out there because there was nobody who seemed to want to work with us, and that's a part of restrictor-plate racing."

Gordon's finish was the worst of his career in the Pepsi 400.

Andrew Carter writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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