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Jeff Gordon wins 84th Cup race at Pocono

Ties Waltrip and Allison for 3rd on all-time NASCAR list
Sunday, June 12, 2011

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Jeff Gordon
Getty Images for NASCAR
Jeff Gordon may be starting to feel his age, but he certainly didn’t show it in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway.

“I’m just so excited to be a part of this sport,” Gordon said in victory lane, after taking the checkered flag 2.965 seconds ahead of runner-up Kurt Busch. “I’m going to be 40 this year (Aug. 4). I’m an old man now.”

Statistically, the old man already is an important part of NASCAR Sprint Cup history. His victory Sunday was his second of the year, his fifth at the tricky 2.5-mile triangular track and the 84th of his career, tying Gordon with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for third on the all-time list.

As NASCAR’s elder statesman and four-time champion later pointed out, the race was won on pit road. The No. 24 Chevrolet crew got Gordon out ahead of Busch on a stop under caution for debris on Lap 156 of 200, enabling Gordon to streak away from eventual seventh-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya after a restart on Lap 160.

During a green-flag stop on Lap 177, the No. 24 crew again performed flawlessly, increasing the cushion Gordon held over Busch.

“If we can just get out front, I think we’ll be OK,” Gordon had told crew chief Alan Gustafson before the Lap 160 pit stop — and that’s exactly what happened.

“You guys won that one in the pits—way to go,” Gordon radioed to his crew after crossing the finish line.

Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Busch’s No. 18 Toyota, however, failed post race inspection, with the left front being too low when measured by NASCAR’s height stick. If penalties are forthcoming, they will be announced later in the week.

Montoya, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top 10. Series points leader Carl Edwards suffered an engine failure 58 laps into the race and finished 37th. Edwards’ lead in the standings shrank to six points over second-place Johnson and 10 over third-place Earnhardt.

Clean air proved decisive, as Kurt Busch, the polesitter, couldn’t close on Gordon significantly during the final 41-lap green-flag run.

“It was a great, hard-fought battle with Jeff Gordon at the end,” Busch said. “It started about 130 laps in, about 70 to go, where we were able to take the lead, stretch it out. Then there was a caution (the fourth debris caution of the race, on Lap 155). The 24 beat us out of the pits.

“I thought we could gain on him after 15 laps into the run. We were able to do that most of the day. We were able to do that again at the end, but we just couldn't close the gap far enough. The old ‘Golden Boy’ had it in him today.

“Neither one of us slipped those final few laps. It was just one of those, ‘I'm giving it all I got, and I can’t close the gap.’ ”

Denny Hamlin, a four-time winner at Pocono, led a race-high 76 laps, but a broken valve stem forced him back to the pits after a stop on Lap 160 and relegated him to 19th at the finish. Hamlin lost one position in the standings to 12th, as Gordon jumped past him into 11th, his highest position since winning at Phoenix in the second race of the season.

After a disappointing stretch that started with a crash in Las Vegas in week No. 3, Gordon feels his team is beginning to realize its potential.

“We were embarrassed by the way we were running,” Gordon said. “When I came on board with Alan (the result of a crew chief swap in the offseason), I knew that they were special and amazing. Phoenix came a little sooner than we thought, but I felt like we could do that this year.

“Then we went on a streak where we just weren’t competitive, but what it takes is a team that believes in you, and you believe in them, and you work together to get there. That’s what we did today.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 47/1 200 Running
2 1 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 43/1 200 Running
3 34 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 42/1 200 Running
4 14 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 41/1 200 Running
5 32 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Okuma 39/0 200 Running
6 21 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 38/0 200 Running
7 16 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 38/1 200 Running
8 27 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Affliction Clothing: Live Fast 36/0 200 Running
9 8 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 35/0 200 Running
10 31 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 34/0 200 Running
11 19 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 33/0 200 Running
12 17 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 32/0 200 Running
13 9 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 31/0 200 Running
14 2 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Pittsburgh Paints / Menards 30/0 200 Running
15 5 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 29/0 200 Running
16 12 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 28/0 200 Running
17 11 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 27/0 200 Running
18 10 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Farmers Insurance / GoDaddy.com 26/0 200 Running
19 4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 27/2 200 Running
20 33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 24/0 200 Running
21 15 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 24/1 200 Running
22 23 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 22/0 200 Running
23 20 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 21/0 200 Running
24 25 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 200 Running
25 28 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Medallion Financial 19/0 199 Running
26 40 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 18/0 199 Running
27 37 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 17/0 199 Running
28 18 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox / Kleenex 16/0 199 Running
29 30 34 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 15/0 199 Running
30 35 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 14/0 198 Running
31 41 32 Mike Bliss Ford U.S. Chrome / Southern Pride Trucking 0 197 Running
32 24 71 Andy Lally * Ford TRG Motorsports 12/0 194 Running
33 13 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 11/0 189 Running
34 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 10/0 154 Running
35 26 38 Sam Hornish Jr. Ford Long John Silver's 0 140 Running
36 38 37 Tony Raines Ford Black Cat Fireworks 8/0 124 Brakes
37 6 99 Carl Edwards Ford Kellogg's / Cheez-it 7/0 59 Running
38 42 7 Scott Wimmer Dodge Speed Energy / Harris Teeter 0 51 Brakes
39 43 150 T.J. Bell * Toyota Green Smoke 0 33 Electrical
40 29 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 29 Ignition
41 36 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 4/1 29 Electrical
42 22 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 2/0 23 Brakes
43 39 181 Scott Riggs Chevrolet WhitneysCollision.com 0 17 Brakes

* Denotes Rookie

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