Gordon Gets Back To Winning Ways At Pocono
Jeff Gordon took a big step toward securing at least a wild card berth in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship when he won the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon.
The victory was the second of the season for the four-time champion, who started the day 13th in points. He became the only driver not in the top 10 in points with two victories.
It was the 84th victory of Gordon’s career and his fifth at Pocono.
His other victory this season came at Phoenix in the second race of the year.
Gordon waved off talk about being locked into the Chase saying, “Too much racing left to go.”
Gordon did say the victory, which tied him with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for third on list of all-time Cup winners, was most welcome.
“I’ll put it in perspective of the great Mark Martin,” Gordon said. “These days you just never know when it’s going to be your last win and when that next one’s coming. I guess it’s because we haven’t won as much recently that you definitely take that into account and you appreciate those wins a whole lot more when they come.”
Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch, who started the race from the pole, finished second – 2.9 seconds behind Gordon.
“The old boy Jeff Gordon had it in him today,” Busch said. ” We ran him strong, we ran him hard. I’m real proud of our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge today, our team, our teamwork. We were in a back-up car, so we didn’t know what to expect, but we ran it as hard as we could. I shifted every lap. I overworked it, but it made it through the 500 miles. This Dodge was great for us today.
However, Busch’s care reportedly failed post race inspection for being too low. Busch could be issued penalties later this week.
Busch also ran into trouble on the track. Kevin Harvick, who has been feuding with Busch and who drives for Richard Childress Racing, banged Busch a couple of times during the race.
Both were told on the radio by NASCAR to stop the on-track bumping.
“I’m not really sure to be honest with you,” Busch said when asked what Harvick was up to in the race. “I was running my own race. It was another car I had to pass. Seemed like he (Harvick) was trying to make it awfully difficult on me. There’s a couple times where I just had to back off and wait, got back to him and tried to pass him again. Maybe kind of shows his character and who he is, how he feels he needs to race on the race track. But it’s not my fight. He’s trying to turn it into one.”
Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, was fourth.
Fifth was Kevin Harvick while Dale Earnhardt Jr., another Hendrick Chevrolet driver, was sixth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Juan Pablo Montoya, who led 38 laps, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
Gordon grabbed the lead away from Montoya on the final restart of the day which came with 40 laps to go.
Gordon kept the lead after the final round of green-flag pits stops cycled through with about 20 laps to go.
Carl Edwards, who started the day in the points lead – 40 over Jimmie Johnson – fell out of contention early when his engine let go.
“One of the valves got in an argument with something in the engine and lost,” Edwards said.” We broke one valve. We don’t think it is from an over rev or anything, we just think it was a parts failure.
“We were running really well and I was babying the engine a little bit and not shifting too much. It is just one of those things. Sometimes things break. The good news is that we haven’t had to deal with this very much with this FR9 engine. Doug Yates and those guys have done such a good job with this engine that I don’t end up in the garage watching them work on it very often at all.”
Edwards finished 37th and saw his advantage shrink to six points over Johnson and 10 over Earnhardt Jr.No Comment