Gordon breaks 47-race drought with Texas win
By: By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
FORT WORTH, Texas—Chalk up No. 82—at long last.
Jeff Gordon broke a 47-race drought in Sunday’s Samsung 500, winning for the first time in 17 starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I’ve got me a win in Texas—I love you!” Gordon shouted to his crew as he crossed the finish line .378 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who rallied from early handling problems to finish second.
In extending his lead in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup standings to 162 points over second-place Johnson, four-time champion Gordon collected the 82nd win of his Cup career, sixth best all time. Cale Yarborough is alone in fifth place with 83 victories.
“How ironic is this that we go on this (winless) streak and we end it here at Texas, a place that just eluded us for so long,” said Gordon, who now has won races at every active Cup track except Homestead-Miami Speedway. “This was an incredible team effort. This whole year has been amazing, and what a great car. We’ve never had a car like this at Texas, and we finally had one and put it in position.”
It was Gordon’s crew that established that position by getting him off pit road first under caution on Lap 305 of 334 at the 1.5-mile speedway. That same stop was the undoing of 10th-place finisher Carl Edwards, who entered pit road in the lead and restarted 11th on Lap 309 after an uncharacteristically slow stop.
Third-place finisher Greg Biffle had one of the fastest cars on the track, but like Edwards, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, he fell victim to a pit road catastrophe when lug nuts came unglued from his tires during a stop on Lap 252.
A third Roush teammate, Matt Kenseth, lost track position on the same stop, also with lug nut problems. Kenseth, who had led 55 laps to that point, rallied to finish fifth.
Tony Stewart continued his strong start with his new Stewart-Haas team with a fourth-place run. Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton and Edwards completed the top 10.
Ten laps after Gordon streaked away from the Lap 309 restart, Johnson began to gain ground, closing a gap of almost two seconds to three car-lengths at the finish.
“We were both driving as hard as we could,” Johnson said. “It was nice to get our car up front and get some clean air on it. We had to work really hard all day long to keep the car right. I’m very proud of the team. We have our old style back where we just keep plugging away and have it right at the end of the race.
“Another five laps and we would have been racing with him. I’m not sure what would have happened, but it was a great race altogether, and I’m very happy for Jeff. Now he’s got a victory, and he’s going to be tough this year—awfully tough.”
Polesitter David Reutimann’s race went south on Lap 157 during a pit stop under caution for Elliott Sadler’s spin off Turn 4. Reutimann slid through his pit box and drew a one-lap penalty when his crew began work on the right rear before the No. 00 Toyota was pushed back into the stall.
Thanks to a free pass as the first car one lap down, Reutimann finally regained his lap under caution for Robby Gordon’s blown engine and restarted 18th on Lap 259. By the end of the race, he had improved to 11th.
Using a two-tire call under caution, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the green flag in the lead on the Lap 259 restart but surrendered it to Jeff Gordon when Kyle Busch forced Earnhardt up the track into the oil-dry compound in the outside groove. Earnhardt stayed solidly in the top 10 until contact with the outside wall on Lap 288 forced him to pit under green. He finished 20th, one lap down.
NOTES: Martin and Biffle were the big movers in the points standings. Martin moved up nine positions to 18th, and Biffle gained eight to 15th. ... Burton moved into the top 12 for the first time this season. He is 12th, the final Chase-eligible position. Montoya also moved up a spot and is 13th, 16 points behind Burton. ... Johnson posted his ninth top-10 finish in 12 starts at Texas. ... Gordon finished 43rd in last year’s spring race. The only two 43rd-place finishes in his Cup career have come at Texas.