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Gordon Wins M’ville, Earns Shot At Championship

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2015
Jeff Gordon secured a berth in the final round of the Chase playoffs by winning at Martinsville on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

Jeff Gordon secured a berth in the final round of the Chase playoffs by winning at Martinsville on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

RacinToday.com

Jeff Gordon will head to the season-ending Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month with a chance to win his fifth championship and in his final season as a driver.

That, thanks to winning Sunday’s Chase Eliminator Round-opening race at Martinsville chase 15 logoSpeedway.

Gordon got the win by avoiding a series of late race wrecks – one that was perhaps a payback job in the rolling-boil feud between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth – and then a couple of late restarts.

The victory was the first of the season for Gordon but his ninth at Martinsville.

After exiting his car, Gordon exploded with emotion.

“This is the sweetest, most amazing feeling,” Gordon shouted. “You want to talk about holding back emotions, right now, man, wow, we’re going to Homestead (to be part of the four-driver finale). I can’t believe it.”

Jamie McMurray finished second and was followed by fellow non-Chasers Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Chasers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were next respectively.

Among other Chasers, Kevin Harvick finished eighth, Carl Edwards was 14th, Brad Keselowski was 32nd after wrecking, Kurt Busch was 34th after crashing and Logano was 37th after being crashed by Kenseth with just under 50 laps to go.

“We knew coming into the three Eliminator Round races,” Truex Jr. said, “that Martinsville was going to be a tough challenge,” said Truex, who recorded his 21st top 10 of the season. “Considering some of the handling issues we struggled with today, coming away sixth is a pretty good feeling.”
 
Cole Pearn of Truex’s Furniture Row Racing team, one of two rookie crew chiefs in the Eliminator Round, was also pleased with the finish.
“This was our wildcard race,” said Pearn. “It was typical short track racing today and it’s never easy here. We got better at the end and I am pleased with our finish and feel good about where we are going for the next two Chase races (Fort Worth and Phoenix).”

 

Logano, who had won the last three races, started the race from the pole and dominated the first half of the race.

Team Penske teammate Keselowski took the lead from Logano on Lap 293 of the 500-lap race. Once out front, Keselowski used the longest green flag run of the day to post leads of over 8 seconds over Logano.

With 130 laps to go, Keselowski put fellow Chaser Carl Edwards of Joe Gibbs Racing a lap down.

With 123 laps to go, Keselowski’s big lead vanished when the caution flag waved. On the restart with 113 laps to go, Keselowski held his lead for a lap and a half. But with 112 to go, Logano passed for the lead.

Five laps later, back came Keselowski to take the lead.

With 90 to go, Logano took the lead once again as he eased passed Keselowski. Following Logano around Keselowski and into second place was Kevin Harvick.

With 82 to go, Danica Patrick rammed David Gilliland into the wall to bring out another caution. On the restart with 75 laps to go, Logano broke free and Keselowski tucked in behind.

With 79 to go, Jeb Burton spun to force another caution. Pitting unexpectedly was Harvick, who had sustained body damage in the pits the previous caution when he made contacted with Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch. Harvick restarted 14th.

On the restart with 66 to go, trouble struck the front of the field as Chasers Keselowski and Kurt Busch clipped each other and wrecked. Both cars, which were running in the top five, were heavily damaged. Keselowski’s car was taken to the garages. Busch followed him after attempting to race on for a couple laps.

On the ensuring restart, which came with 57 laps to go, Logano led and Gordon was second.

With 47 laps to go, Matt Kenseth, whose Chase hopes took a huge hit when he was dumped by Logaon with five laps to go at Kansas, apparently decided to get his revenge. As Logano was passing him to put Kenseth another lap down, Kenseth hooked Logano and wrecked him hard.

Fan favorite Kenseth got a huge ovation from the crowd.

Logano called the incident a “complete coward move”.

Kesneth denied the contact was intentional. He said damage sustained in the Keselowski-Kurt Busch wreck caused steering problems.

“Hate the way it ended,” he said.

The contact was not the first between Logano and Kenseth Sunday.

Just after the scheduled mid point of the race, Kenseth made good on a threat to punt Logano when he got the chance. Logano, who had led 149 laps at that point, was running second behind Keselowski when Kenseth, who was dumped by Logano and knocked out of the Chase at Kansas, nudged him aside.

As a result of the second Kenseth-Logano incident, Gordon took the lead. But on the ensuing caution, Gordon opted to pit.

On the restart, Hamlin had the lead as he opted not to pit. Same with AJ Allmendinger who also restarted on the front row. Gordon was third.

With 28 to go, Gordon bumped past Hamlin on his fresher tires and began chasing Allmendinger.

With 24, Gordon was Allmendinger’s rear bumper. Two laps later, Gordon made the pass for the lead.

From there, Gordon’s job was to hold off a charging McMurray.

He appeared to be doing that but with seven laps to go, Sam Hornish Jr. spun to bring out another caution.

On the final restart, Gordon took the low line. Behind him was teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon and McMurray went side by side through three corners before Gordon got the advantage and the win.

(This story will be updated shortly)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Sunday, November 01, 2015

  1. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, $199836.
  2. (4) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 500, $158301.
  3. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500, $131335.
  4. (22) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 500, $117160.
  5. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500, $138391.
  6. (2) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 500, $121985.
  7. (7) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500, $124615.
  8. (12) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 500, $146715.
  9. (24) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500, $104790.
  10. (13) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 500, $119004.
  11. (3) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 500, $133298.
  12. (21) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500, $133051.
  13. (23) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 500, $113973.
  14. (14) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 500, $88865.
  15. (26) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 500, $97065.
  16. (8) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500, $125201.
  17. (19) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 500, $110023.
  18. (30) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500, $124176.
  19. (9) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500, $114423.
  20. (31) Cole Whitt, Ford, 500, $98823.
  21. (27) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 500, $85815.
  22. (41) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 499, $95087.
  23. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 498, $85265.
  24. (33) David Gilliland, Ford, 498, $93015.
  25. (28) David Ragan, Toyota, 498, $111954.
  26. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 497, $115598.
  27. (35) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 496, $85365.
  28. (20) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 493, $107560.
  29. (39) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 492, $81090.
  30. (36) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 492, $82515.
  31. (32) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 491, $125465.
  32. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 490, $129231.
  33. (43) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 489, $80665.
  34. (15) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 486, $98615.
  35. (34) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 479, $80565.
  36. (42) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 459, $80515.
  37. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 458, $139538.
  38. (18) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, Parked, 443, $112688.
  39. (29) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 423, $79680.
  40. (16) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 391, $75680.
  41. (40) Kyle Fowler, Ford, Brakes, 373, $63680.
  42. (37) Ryan Preece, Ford, 365, $59680.
  43. (17) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Accident, 185, $90338.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  69.643 mph.

Time of Race:  03 Hrs, 46 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.335 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  18 for 109 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano 1-8; M. Truex Jr. 9-35; J. Logano 36-43; J. Gordon 44-53; J. Logano 54-59; Kurt Busch 60-81; J. Logano 82-158; A. Dillon 159-164; J. Logano 165-198; K. Harvick 199-236; B. Keselowski 237-239; J. Logano 240-255; B. Keselowski 256-282; J. Logano 283-292; B. Keselowski 293-388; J. Logano 389-393; B. Keselowski 394-410; J. Logano 411-453; J. Gordon 454-456; D. Hamlin 457-459; A. Allmendinger 460-478; J. Gordon 479-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Logano 9 times for 207 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 143 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 38 laps; J. Gordon 3 times for 35 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 27 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 22 laps; A. Allmendinger 1 time for 19 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 6 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 3 laps.

Top 16 in Points: J. Gordon – 4,047; Kyle Busch – 4,039; M. Truex Jr. – 4,039; K. Harvick – 4,037; C. Edwards – 4,030; B. Keselowski – 4,013; Kurt Busch – 4,011; J. Logano – 4,009; D. Hamlin – 2,251; R. Newman – 2,231; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 2,221; J. Mcmurray – 2,201; M. Kenseth – 2,197; J. Johnson – 2,193; P. Menard – 2,177; C. Bowyer – 2,124.

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2015
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