Darlington: Goodyear Racing race report

Event: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Dodge Avenger 500 (Race No. 11 of 36) S.C. Weather: Mostly cloudy and warm on Sunday, after the Saturday rainout Winner: Jeff Gordon, driver of the ...

Event: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Dodge Avenger 500 (Race No. 11 of 36)

S.C.

Weather: Mostly cloudy and warm on Sunday, after the Saturday rainout

Winner: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports

Top-five finishers: Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards

Race recap: For the second week in a row, a NASCAR Nextel Cup race scheduled for a Saturday night had to run on Sunday due to rain. And for the second consecutive week, a Hendrick Motorsports team won the race.

This week at Darlington, it was Jeff Gordon taking the honors. The move of the race came on lap 346 when Gordon decided to stay out on the track and not pit under the yellow flag, opting for track position over fresh rubber. The move paid off as the four-time series champion inherited the lead and never gave it up over the final 22 laps around the abrasive Darlington Raceway. Gordon overcame an overheating problem that dogged his Chevrolet over the final third of the race. By a 0.978-second margin, he went on to defeat Denny Hamlin, who led the most laps of all drivers on the day -- 179 of 367.

The victory was the eighth in the last nine Nextel Cup races for Hendrick Motorsports, including all five that featured the "Car of Tomorrow." He also marked seven wins on the track nicknamed "too tough to tame."

Overall there were 21 lead changes among 10 drivers, and 10 caution flags for a total of 44 laps, and the winner averaged 124.383 miles per hour.

Gordon extended his championship lead over teammate Jimmie Johnson to 231 points, with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton trailing in the top five.

Goodyear Quote -- Chad Fletcher: "The Goodyear engineering team was very pleased with the tire compound and setup employed at Darlington this weekend. We had great wear and performance, especially highlighted during Sunday's Nextel Cup race on a highly abrasive race track that was made extremely 'green' after heavy rains washed off all the rubber laid down throughout practice and the Busch Series race on Friday night."

The Nextel Cup Series holds its All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, N.C. next weekend before returning to points-paying action at Lowe's the following week.

***

Companion event: Denny Hamlin led 79 of 147 laps to win the NASCAR Busch Series race at Darlington on Friday night. He outpaced second-place finisher Mark Martin and championship points leader Carl Edwards in third.

-credit: goodyear

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