Jeff Gordon reminded everyone at Martinsville Speedway why he is a four-time Cup series champion. Gordon came back from a three lap deficit to win the Advance Auto Parts 500 by three car lengths. "There is something special about this place,"...
Jeff Gordon reminded everyone at Martinsville Speedway why he is a four-time Cup series champion. Gordon came back from a three lap deficit to win the Advance Auto Parts 500 by three car lengths.
"There is something special about this place," said Gordon. "We lost so many incredible people out of this organization and racing community (the fall race here). I think it is only fitting for us to get this victory. I know how much it means to Rick Hendrick and his family and all those other families.
"It means a lot to this race team."
Gordon had a loose wheel on the No. 24 Hendrick Chevrolet at lap 46 that forced him to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop rendering him three laps down. Gordon painstakingly made his laps back to be able to position himself for the win. With 44 laps to go, Gordon booted then leader Kurt Busch to grab the lead and go on to record his sixth win at Martinsville.
"We just never gave up the fight, you know?" continued Gordon. "That's what it takes week in and week out, especially here at Martinsville. We had a problem where we got down, but we fixed it and we never lost sight of winning this race."
It is Gordon's second win of the season and 71st of his career.
Kasey Kahne was second, garnering his second top five finish of the year. Not a bad birthday for Kahne who celebrated turning twenty-five Sunday.
"I crashed a couple of cars early in the season that didn't need to be crashed and we lost a lot of points," said Kahne. "We've run fifth, 14th and now second the last three weeks, so I'd really love to win but second at Martinsville is a great finish for myself and for my whole team.
"Last year we really struggled here in the first race. We learned some things here the second race and now in the third race we feel like we've had a car that was capable of winning."
Mark Martin was third marking his 21st top-10 finish in 39 starts at Martinsville. It is Martin's fourth top-10 finish of 2005.
"We had such a great race car," said Martin. "I know we've won here twice, but that is the best race car I've ever had here. Unfortunately, Jeff Gordon and those guys were a little bit better there at the end and I used my car up trying to stay ahead of him. By the time he got by me I was about out of brakes and I didn't have anything left to race Kasey with. But with 50 to go I think it was a legitimate shot to win the race and I'm honored to be driving for such a great race team in my salute tour year. It's really special."
Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace complete the top five.
"I made a big mistake," said Wallace. "On that very last stop I should have hollered for two tires instead of four. I saw Newman stay out, and I expected that. Then the 40 car stayed out, but I had a real good car and I think two tires might have won me the race. I was just too late hollering to Larry (Carter, crew chief). I feel good about a top five, but I don't feel good about not winning."
As per usual at Martinsville, fabricators will have a busy week repairing bent up race cars. There were 16 cautions for 91 laps and 17 lead changes among 11 drivers.
Tony Stewart, who was the class of the field Sunday, lost a wheel on the No. 20 Gibbs Chevy on lap 433 and the team had to make extensive repairs. Stewart wound up 26th after leading a race-high 243 laps.
"I can't even describe it right now," Stewart said. "I guess the thing I am proud of is that I am handling it the way I am handling it right now. It's bad. But it is like I told the guys, on the radio and told them again when I got out of the car; we have a lot to be proud of. When the emotion of the disappointment goes away, we are going to have a lot of good things to look forward to.
"This was the best car I ever had here."
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead series standings. Greg Biffle (-160), Elliott Sadler (-182), Mark Martin (-198), Tony Stewart (-203), Jeff Gordon (-205), Rusty Wallace (-206), Ryan Newman (-224), Kurt Busch (-231), and Dale Jarrett (-245) complete the top ten.
Eight of the top-10 positions in point standings changed after the event at Martinsville. Currently, only 23 drivers are within the 400 point window of leader Johnson.