Jeff Gordon wins at Kansas again; no. 8 Budweiser Team sixth after starting from Bud Pole position. Jeff Gordon dominated the late stages of Sunday's Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway, grabbing his second victory at the 1.5-mile oval, ...
Jeff Gordon wins at Kansas again; no. 8 Budweiser Team sixth after starting from Bud Pole position.
Jeff Gordon dominated the late stages of Sunday's Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway, grabbing his second victory at the 1.5-mile oval, making him the only driver to win a Winston Cup race at the track that opened in 2001. Gordon survived a three-lap sprint to the finish when a late red flag period stopped the action on lap 262. Gordon had to hold off Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace, who were second and third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were in fourth place on the final restart on lap 264, but contact with the car of Matt Kenseth broke the momentum of both cars and Dale Jr. lost two positions on the final lap, finishing sixth. The team earned their second Bud Pole position of the 2002 season (and sixth career Bud Pole) with a track record lap in Friday's qualifying session. With the bonus points for leading 10 laps, Dale Jr. and the team move to 13th in Winston Cup points, their highest position since the race at Charlotte in May. Since winning the first Bud Pole at Michigan in August, the team has scored four top-10 finishes in seven races. Gordon's teammate, rookie Jimmie Johnson, took the lead in Winston Cup points for the first time in his career, as the points race continues to stay remarkably close with unexpected twists and turns. The top nine drivers in points are separated by only 201 points with seven races remaining.
The Key Moments: Dale Jr. and the Bud team led the first lap of the race, fell to second on lap two, and then began a rollercoaster afternoon where they yo-yo'ed up and down the standings. The first 30 laps were marked with a series of yellow flags, and the Bud team stayed in the top three until pitting on lap 30. The stop for four tires dropped them to 26th place, but Dale Jr. was able to streak back into the top 10 in less than 20 laps, and into the top five in less than 40 laps. The capacity Kansas crowd erupted in cheers when Dale Jr. swept to the outside of Kevin Harvick in turn one on lap 95 to again take the lead. The red Bud car remained in the top five for the next 50 laps until a slow pit stop on lap 143 dropped them back to the 20th position. For the remainder of the race, Dale Jr. made a steady charge, one spot at a time. With the race nearing an end, it was developing into a fuel mileage battle between the No. 8 car and the car of Matt Kenseth. Had the race remained under the green flag, those two would have been the only cars able to run to the finish without stopping to refuel. However, a yellow flag on lap 248 bunched and jumbled the field. After a pit stop for four tires, Dale Jr. restarted ninth and made a breathtaking charge into fourth place in two laps, where he remained until the red flag.
Dale Jr's Quotes: "Somehow we took a first or second place car and finished sixth... NASCAR needs some sort of award or stat for passing the most cars, because I think we would have won that award at the last five or six races. We had a nice little race car - a great car -- today. We were never too far off of the set-up all afternoon. At times, it was really easy to pull up and pass cars in traffic. We had a disaster of a stop when I didn't mash the brake pedal hard enough and the left front hub was spinning, making it tough for the guys to put the new wheel on. We fought back and seemed to have them beat on fuel mileage. Then, we had the red flag, and I didn't know if I was going to win the race, but I knew I was gonna drive my butt off to pass those three guys in front of me. Matt (Kenseth) laid back on the start and tried to get a run on me, but ended up ruining the start for both of us."
Best Radio Conversations
Premonition of the weekend:
Dale Jr. (after Saturday's Happy Hour session) "Man. How are we gonna beat that 24 (car)? That worries me."
After Dale Jr. took the lead on lap 95:
Ty Norris (spotter): "Man, the crowd's goin' wild. There's so much red out there, it looks like a Kansas City Chiefs game!"
After falling to 26th after a poor stop, but slicing through the field like a warm knife through cheese:
Dale Jr. (joking) "It's a lotta fun comin' from the back. Maybe we could have a stop like that every week."
Tony Eury Jr (car chief): (not joking) "No!"
Dale Jr: "I know ya don't like it but I kinda do. It's fun passing all these cars like that. We just might get us a good finish today."
Under the nearly 15-minute red flag period, right after Dale Jr. had gained four positions in two laps
Norris (spotter): "Every one of you guys on pit lane need to come up here where I stand and watch Dale Jr. sometimes. Those last few laps were awesome. He was getting' it, man!"
Eury Jr: "He about gave me a heart attack in turn one though"
Norris: "Aw, you gotta stronger heart than that!"
Dale Jr: "I gotta admit I was a little nervous there myself"
Looooking Gooooooooooooooood Dale Jr. is featured in the current October edition of GQ Magazine in the magazine's annual look at sports and fashion. The photos were taken this summer at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. In other celebrity news, Dale Jr. met a series of notables at the event, such as hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana (who played several seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs), and Denny Brauer, a professional angler also sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.
Started: 1st (second Bud Pole of 2002)
Points Position: 13th (gained one position)
Money Won: $96,700
Laps Led: 2 times for 10 laps
Best Pit Stop: Lap 103 / Stop #3 of 5 / 4 tires, Fuel / 13.32 seconds