Jeff Gordon Wins at Pocono for the Fifth Time in His Career; Team Chevy Drivers Score Six of Top-10 Finishing Positions; Chevrolet Extends Lead in Manufacturers' Cup Standings
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jeff Gordon sealed the deal today at Pocono Raceway with an exclamation point. Leading three times for 39 of the 200-lap race, he piloted his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to Victory Lane for a record-tying fifth time at the track known as the "Tricky Triangle". He is now tied with Bill Elliott for the most number of wins at Pocono Raceway (5).
Starting from the inside of row two, Gordon was never out of the sight of the leaders throughout the race. But is as usually the case at Pocono, clean air rules the day and when he broke out to the lead the final time on lap 182 after the final round of green-flag pit stops cycled through, Gordon set sail and took the checkered flag with a 2.965 margin of victory.
The win was the second for Gordon this season and the 84th of his NSCS career, all behind the wheel of a Chevrolet race car.
The victory extended Chevrolet's lead in the Manufacturers' Cup standings to 15 points over the second place manufacturer, Ford.
With his fourth-place finish, five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, pulled within six points of the current series point leader (Carl Edwards) with 14 races in the record books. Johnson has one win to-date.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Okuma Chevrolet, finished fifth to give Team Chevy three of the top-five finishers in today's 5-Hour Energy 500. Harvick remains fourth in points, just 11 points out the lead and one point out of third. He has three wins so far this season, the most of all the competitors in the Race to the Chase.
The third-place points position is held by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, who was sixth at the checkered flag, his eighth top-10 finish of the year.
Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet, was the seventh-place finisher after starting 16th in the 43-car field. He was credited for leading three times for 38 laps and moved up two positions in the standings to 13h place.
Ryan Newman brought the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet to the finish in ninth place to give Team Chevy six of the top-10 finishers. Newman remains 10th in points order.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, battled handling issues most of the race but battled to the 16th finishing position. He is eighth in the standings with 12 races remaining until the start of the Chase.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, was steadily marching to the front of the field from his 15th starting spot to be a strong contender in the top-five until he lost third gear in the late stages of the race. He finished 21st and sits ninth in the point standings.
Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Kyle Busch (Toyota) complete the top-five finishers.
Next stop on the NSCS schedule is Sunday, June 19 at Michigan International Speedway.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER: ON TODAY'S RACE:
WHAT HAS CHANGED IN LAST TWO WEEKS? "Oh my goodness. Just a lot of hard work has gone into this. We were embarrassed by the way we were running. When I came on board with Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and his crew, 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. What it takes is a team that believes in you and you believe in them and you work together to get there. And that is what we did today. We just never gave up. Awesome race car. Awesome pit stops. I have to thank DuPont, AARP Drive To End Hunger and Pepsi. Of course the fans, the fans are just amazing here. Welcome TNT TV. This is a great way to get started."
Great pit stops by my team.
TWO WINS NOW, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LOCKED IN THE CHASE? "No, there is too much racing left to go. You have guys like (Denny) Hamlin who are really strong and a bunch of other ones that can ease up. (Greg) Biffle, there are guys that can win multiple races. I feel a lot better about it though. That is for darn sure.
"Man, I am just so excited to be a part of this sport. I mean, I am going to be 40 this year. To have Ella (his daughter) here and say hi to Leo (his son) at home and my wife Ingrid here, this is just an amazing experience to share this with my family. I haven't had a chance to do that even when I won at Phoenix, the kids were missing so this is awesome.
"Thank you Sprint for all they do."
YOU DROVE HERE THIS WEEKEND: "I always drive to Pocono. I enjoy that. If I could drive to more tracks, if they were close enough, I would. I drive to Martinsville. I love that little two hour drive if I can make it happen whether I am in New York or Charlotte. It is very relaxing. The most relaxing thing is having a race car like that with these guys behind me. That was awesome. Congrats to Alan and say hi to Rick (Hendrick) I know he is at home watching. This is awesome."
ON HIS DAY: "Well, you know there weren't a lot of cautions so you had to have the car right. Luckily we had it pretty close. We just made some little adjustments to keep the car up front. Great pit stops by my team. They were awesome. I just can't thank them enough for that effort.
“But I really have to thank Alan Gustafson and all the engineers on this DuPont Chevrolet. They just worked so hard to get me what I needed to go fast. They never lacked confidence in what I could do out there. That is so important and that is what makes it a winning effort like this. I have to thank them and all those guys and everybody back at the shop. This is awesome. To win at Pocono again, to do it in the fashion that we did it today. To have DuPont on board and of course AARP Drive To End Hunger and Pepsi Max. Great day."
DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAD LOST CONFIDENCE IN YOU? "When we don't win, I get down and everybody does in this sport and you start to question everything. When our teammates are outrunning us, then you have to look at that as well. This team went to work and we made big improvements and we've shown that the last couple of weeks. Today was proof that all that hard work can pay off. The balance of the car was great all weekend. The grip was there and then you follow that up with great pit stops. That is an amazing effort. We talked about it before the race started and it all came together today."
THE SHIFTING, ANY CONCERNS? "I definitely had concerns. We put a temp gauge in there during practice to check it out and we felt like we were pretty good there. I was more concerned with what it did to the car. How unstable the car was when I would shift. I started shifting a little bit more than I had when the pace dropped. We got real loose that last run. Kurt (Busch) was coming. He was tough. When he was out front, I could hang with him but he was good on the long runs. There at the end I knew we had to pull away early and we did. But then he started creeping back in there on me. I got a little worried. I made a few mistakes. Got real loose and said, all I could do was drive it smooth and straight and see what happens and we started driving back away from him.
"This is awesome. I have to thank all the fans. Pocono has the greatest fans. Thank to them for all their support for all these years. This feels awesome to get back to victory lane at this race track. The safer barriers, that was awesome. I don't think anyone tested them today, but I'll tell you what, it is sure nice to know they are there. Just a great DuPont Chevrolet team today. Thank them and Sprint for all they do as well."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER: CONGRATULATIONS: "I have to catch my breath! I am really happy for DuPont first all. They have stuck with us. We have had some terrible runs in their car so it feels good to win one for them. They have always supported the No. 24 car. I'm real happy for them. Have to thank everybody at HMS (Hendrick Motorsports) for sticking behind us. We've had a terrible start to this season and a lot of work coming back. These in the No. 5/No. 24 shop have done an awesome job getting us here. I have to thank Mark Whitten in the chassis shop first and foremost. This is the clip of the week and it won a race so I have to give him a hard time."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 4TH:
YOU HAD A GOOD SOLID RUN TODAY, WHICH IS WHAT YOU NEEDED “Yeah, it was a great day. It was a great day in the pits and on the track. Man, I really thought I had a shot there on that restart at the end and kind of got stuck in the middle and lost a bunch of track position and just had to recover from that. But it was a great day today. I’m very happy to see the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) in victory lane. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been working very hard to make sure that the cars are getting speed in them and they’ve done that. Our engine package held up today with the abuse we gave it. It was a great day all in all.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 OKUMA CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY: "It was a total team effort to get our Okuma Chevy up there. They did a great job at the beginning playing the pit strategy and we got to the top-10 before we even got to half way. Good solid day for us. We just have a little bit of work to do before we came back."
THIS IS THE KIND OF DAYS YOU HAVE TO HAVE: "We had a good car in qualifying, I just didn't do a very good job of qualifying. That is probably about where we should have finished. Solid top-five and we'll go on with this."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 6TH:
ON THE DAY “I’m real happy with where I finished. On the last restart of the race, we were 18th with 30 to go. And we drove back up to sixth so I’m real happy about that. The car was pretty good. We had a little struggled with the handling in the middle part of the race. But it was really good at the start and really good at the end. We had good speed all weekend. And hopefully when we come back we’ll have good balance again.”
HOW WAS THE SHIFTING? “I was good with it.”
HOW HAPPY ARE YOU NOW WITH ALL THIS FINISHES YOU’VE BEEN STRINGING TOGETHER? “Today, some guys that were behind me finished in front of me. But I’ve got to go home and look at NASCAR.com and see what the finishes look like. But I’m really happy to be running well and being up front. It’s surely a difference from the last couple of years, so I feel fortunate and feel lucky to be able to compete.”
With like 25 laps to go I lose third gear.
TONY GIBSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET – FINISHED 9TH:
“With 21 laps to go, we lost third gear in the transmission. And we thought we were going to be okay but it started running hot, the transmission did, and started pumping fluid out. We didn’t know it at the time. It smoked a little bit in the corners, but then it cleared up and went away and we ran the last 15 laps with no smoke. I think what happened was it just kind of dumped all the fluid out of the transmission; it just got hot and started pumping it out. So, we were just very, very lucky today to finish this race. For once a break went our way. We didn’t need a green-white-checkered and we needed to finish with a broken transmission. So like I said, it worked out good for today and we’ll take it and go on.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED 15TH:
"We might have been a little better than 15th, but overall that's pretty much what our Furniture Row Chevrolet had today. We lost some track position early, but thanks to our pit crew late in the race we managed to make a pretty good gain. We're just okay with top 15s, and really want to those top 10s and top fives. We've been a little inconsistent lately and hopefully today's result will trigger a streak of solid finishes."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 7TH:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY “We had a really good car all day. We had a great car. With like 25 laps to go I lose third gear. It was kind of weird. It was a good thing we didn’t have another caution because we would have been completely done. We’ve had some problems with the gear box and things lately but I don’t know. Our Target Chevy ran good all day.”
-source: team chevy