NASCAR: Gordon wins in Texas
By Stephen Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas ó Jeff Gordon ended the longest winless drought of his career, beating Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson to finally win at Texas.
Gordon won for the first time in 48 races Sunday at the 11/2-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway, one of only two active tracks where the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion had never won a race.
It was the 17th Cup race at Texas, the track where Gordon has the only two last-place finishes in his 552 career starts. One of the 43rd-place finishes came last spring before he was the runner-up to Carl Edwards in the fall race after winning the pole.
“How ironic is this that when we go into this streak and we end it here in Texas, a place that’s just eluded us for so long,” Gordon said. “Incredible team effort. This whole year has been amazing. What a great car. I’ve never had a car like this at Texas. We finally had one and put it in position.”
Gordon, already the season points leader with four top-five finishes in the first six races, did a few burnouts on the frontstretch before grabbing the checkered flag and taking his No. 24 Chevrolet for a long-awaited victory lap ó his first since October 2007 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte.
The only track he now hasn’t won at is Homestead. He’ll have to wait until the season finale in November for a chance to change that.
During interviews in Victory Lane at Texas, before firing the celebratory six-shooters, Gordon had to sneak a peek at the logos on his car to remind himself of everybody he needed to thank. It had been a long time, especially by his standards.
Rick Hendrick wasn’t there, so Gordon tried to talked to him by cell phone from Victory Lane. Also missing were his wife and daughter.
“I’m just thrilled. I can’t wait to get home to Ingrid and Ella,” Gordon said. “I know (Ella) was saying ‘Go poppy go’ all day long. I hate that they couldn’t come.”
Gordon won by 0.542 seconds over Johnson with an average speed of 146.372 mph for his 82nd career victory, one behind Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time list. Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip are tied for third on that list with 84 victories.
Edwards, going for his third consecutive Cup victory at Texas, was leading when the final caution came out because David Stremme got loose and spun coming out of the third turn with 30 laps to go in the 334-lap race.
But Edwards’ crew had problems changing tires and he dropped 10 spots to 11th coming off pit row. Gordon had a flawless stop, moving from third to first and staying ahead the rest of the race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took only two right-side tires and went from 12th to first on a restart with 76 laps to go.
But Earnhardt quickly lost that lead between turns one and two when Kyle Busch, trying to regain a lost lap, got loose and bumped him. Earnhardt got pushed to the top of the track, allowing Gordon to charge ahead.
Gordon was still holding the lead with 39 laps left when he got caught in traffic and Edwards slid under him into first. Tony Stewart got past Gordon a few laps later and that was the running order when Stremme spun out.
Greg Biffle finished third, followed by Stewart and Matt Kenseth. Edwards finished 10th, a spot ahead of polesitter David Reutimann.
Reutimann, driving a No. 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip, didn’t even lead the first lap. Gordon did, passing him as they crossed the start-finish-line for the first time.
Gordon led six times for 105 laps in a race that featured 28 lead changes, nine more than any other Cup race this season and one short of the Texas record.
Gordon led the first seven laps, but gave up the lead because of some handling issues with his car. But he was never too far from the front, never out of the top 10.
Biffle, led three times for 93 laps and his Roush Fenway teammate Kenseth had three leads for 55 laps. Edwards one time in front lasted nine laps.