Jeff Gordon finally wins at Texas Motor Speedway
Jeff Gordon can rest easy. He won again Sunday... the first time in 47 races.
The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion held off teammate Jimmie Johnson the last 26 laps to win the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
This one, the 87th win of Gordon's fabled career, was a dandy. It came on a day when a bunch of hard-charging drivers had the lead at one time or another.
It was a long time between victory lanes for Gordon, the last one being at Lowe's Motor Speedway nearly two years ago.
Trailing Gordon and Johnson was Greg Biffle and another former champion Tony Stewart, who continues to impress veterans in the sport with his performance as an owner-driver. Both Stewart and Biffle led the event during the highly-competitive race.
Matt Kenseth, another former champ and another race leader, was fifth with ageless Mark Martin sixth.
Juan Pablo Montoya was seventh and Kurt Busch eighth. Jeff Burton was ninth and Carl Edwards, another of the numerous race leaders, finished 10th.
Fastest qualifier David Reutimann, another race leader, wound up 11th after missing his pit stall and losing a lap about halfway through the race.
Kyle Busch, a frontrunner at one point in the race, wound up 18th after a self-imposed accident cost him valuable laps.
Six caution flags slowed the field during the afternoon for minor incidents.
Gordon led the first lap on a wind-blown afternoon that promised plenty of competition over the one-and-a-half-mile tri-oval. Pole winner Reutimann quickly went back to the front and Daytona 500 winner Kenseth passed Gordon for second. Paul Menard, who shows more promise every race, followed suit and moved Gordon, the series point leader, to fourth.
After 20 of the scheduled 324 laps, Reutimann was in front, followed by Kenseth, Menard, Stewart, Gordon, Kyle Busch, David Ragan, Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya and Johnson.
Marcos Ambrose was 11th, continuing to impress fans with his adaptation to the stock cars after an impressive road racing career in Australia. By Lap 50, Ambrose was sixth and running faster laps than the leader Reutimann when all the drivers made pit stops beginning at Lap 52.
After the first round of scheduled pit stops, the leader was Kenseth, followed by Reutimann, Stewart, Menard, Gordon, Biffle, Ragan, Edwards, Ambrose and Kyle Busch. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was 11th after starting 20th.
Biffle was the man on the move, steadily moving into third behind Kenseth and Stewart, who was gaining on leader Kenseth at Lap 85. He passed Kenseth two laps later, getting sideways out of turn two in the process.
The first caution of the afternoon came out on Lap 97, a record number of laps run without a caution at the track. Obviously, the caution created a flurry of pit road activity with the Kenseth and Biffle crews getting their drivers back on the track first.
They were followed by Stewart, Reutimann, Edwards, Ragan, Gordon, Menard, Ambrose and Burton, who had worked his way into the top 10 for the first time in this 500-mile event. On Lap 111, Kyle Busch sideswiped John Andretti on the backstretch and cut a tire, which ultimately cost him nearly two laps when he needed two stops under green to repair the damage. In the meantime, Biffle passed teammate Kenseth for the lead on Lap 117.
At Lap 140, Biffle held the lead over Gordon and Stewart. They were trailed by Edwards, Ragan, Burton, Kurt Busch and Montoya. Busch and Montoya were on the move in this segment of the race, which was clearly anybody's race to win at this point. Every car in the top 10 was running within one-tenth-of-a-second, with several cars further back also recording fast laps. Kenseth was the first to pit under green at 152 laps but others followed a lap or two later.
On Lap 156, Elliott Sadler spun off Turn 4 bringing out the second caution of the day. Fortunately, all the leaders had pitted and Biffle was out front. The order didn't change much after the caution except for Mark Martin, who had jumped into ninth spot after the cycle of pit stops. Reutimann, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were penalized for pit road violations. Reutimann missed his pit box. Harvick was too fast exiting pit road and Busch was too fast entering pit road.
Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus made three stops under this caution to make changes on the defending champion's Chevy. Johnson had not been much of a contender at this point in the race.
At the halfway point, 167 laps, Biffle led with Kenseth right behind him. Gordon was third and Stewart fourth. Ragan, showing some strength, was fifth ahead of Kurt Busch. Burton was next with Edwards, Montoya and Martin rounding out the top 10. Earnhardt was 11th and Johnson 12th.
Jeff Gordon maintains his point lead following his win at Texas. Jimmie Johnson is second, followed by Kurt Busch in third. Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, David Reutimann, and Jeff Burton round out the top 12.
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