What a luscious weekend it was for Jeff Gordon in Sonoma, California. The main course was when Gordon's beautiful Belgian girlfriend, Ingrid Vandebosch, agreed to be his bride. The succulent side dish came when he grabbed his first series win of...
What a luscious weekend it was for Jeff Gordon in Sonoma, California.
The main course was when Gordon's beautiful Belgian girlfriend, Ingrid Vandebosch, agreed to be his bride. The succulent side dish came when he grabbed his first series win of 2006 at Infineon Raceway and his ninth career win on a road course.
It was the revitalization the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy team desperately needed. After suffering six finishes of 20th or worse, Gordon and Company found themselves out of the top ten in series points. The win boosts Gordon's championship hopes by placing him back into Chase contention; he leaves Sonoma eighth in points.
"I didn't know if we were ever going to win another one of these races," said Gordon. "I am speechless. What an amazing moment this is. What a very special weekend this is for me and this race team to get back to Victory Lane.it's been an amazing ride.
"I knew this team was something special we just haven't had the opportunity to show it."
Ryan Newman passed Labonte on the races final lap for second, "A big points day for us and the Alltel Dodge, no doubt. A good run.we had a plain smooth race, great pit stop and great strategy. Happy to get a good top five for everybody at Penske Racing."
Terry Labonte hung on for third, earning his first top five finish since he won at Darlington in August of 2003.
"We got pretty good gas mileage, but the car was too loose to get into it too hard," said Labonte. "I had to really ease into the throttle coming off the corners. Evidently, I was getting good gas mileage so I just kept doing that. They told me to try and save gas but I didn't really do anything. I figured if I tried to do that I would just mess it up."
Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch complete the top five.
Busch led the field to the green flag, but a multi-car melee brought out the red flag on the first lap. After a fifteen minute clean up effort the car re-fired with Busch leading.
Busch led until Kevin Harvick assumed the top spot after a round of green flag pit stops on lap 32. Harvick gave up the lead to Newman on a green flag pass on lap 38. Newman remained out front through several cautions, but gave it up to Gordon on lap 49 after a round of service stops.
Gordon led until lap 71, when he gave up the lead to Labonte after a round of pit stops when Labonte chose to stay out. The No. 24 Chevy regained the top spot on lap 88 as Labonte's team urged him to save fuel.
Gordon was closing in on the win when a multi-car pile-up red flagged the on track action with five laps to go. With the field bunched back up, it was Labonte's best chance to make a move on Gordon, but in the end, Hendrick horsepower won out as Gordon wheeled the No. 24 to his 74th career win.
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead series points. Matt Kenseth (-101), Kasey Kahne (-313), Mark Martin (-321), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-329), Jeff Burton (-400), Tony Stewart (-422), Jeff Gordon (-448), Greg Biffle (-467) and Kevin Harvick (-489) complete the top five.
There were seven cautions for 12 laps and eight lead changes among nine drivers. August 2003