Jeff Gordon can cross seeking vengeance against Matt Kenseth off his 'to do' list. With visions of a lost top five at Bristol at the hands of Kenseth still fresh in his head, Gordon dumped leader Kenseth with five laps to go at Chicagoland...
Jeff Gordon can cross seeking vengeance against Matt Kenseth off his 'to do' list. With visions of a lost top five at Bristol at the hands of Kenseth still fresh in his head, Gordon dumped leader Kenseth with five laps to go at Chicagoland Speedway to garner the win.
It was not a warm, fuzzy victory in Joliet; fans booed, tossed trash onto the racetrack and made sure that the four time champ was well aware that they knew he had stolen one from Kenseth. While it wasn't quite the trash shower at Talladega two years ago (when Gordon won over Earnhardt, Jr.) there were still plenty of empty adult beverage cans bouncing from the hood of the No. 24 Chevy as he tried to wheel his way to Victory Lane.
Gordon was semi-apologetic exiting the No. 24 Chevy in Victory Lane, "Matt ran a great race and we had troubles in Bristol. I got in there hard and he blocked me a couple of times and I jumped back on the gas. I don't know if Casey (Mears) on that side made him hesitate but I tried the best I could. But, sorry to Matt."
The win climbs Gordon back into the top ten in point standings into 10th place, 432 points behind leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson. It is his second win of the season and 75th of his career
"We wanted to get those valuable points for the Chase," said Gordon. "Finally there at the end we got into second.unfortunately there was only five to go when I caught him and unfortunately we got together.I certainly didn't mean to wreck him but I didn't mind moving him out of the way either."
Pole sitter Jeff Burton was second earning his best finish of the 2006 season.
"We took off pretty good," said Burton. "We had to try and get it to turn all day. We kept working on it and we had it almost there, but not quite. It was a good day for us, and we will certainly take it."
Kyle Busch was third, "To finally come out of a mile and half with a decent finish, besides Las Vegas the second race of the year, decent effort by the team. We had a great race car all day."
Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. complete the top five.
"We were sitting there and we didn't adjust on the car in the middle part and fell back to about 15th or so. We made some good calls in the pits and I was able to come back. I had a lot of fun."
Burton brought the field to the green flag and led until Gordon beat him out during a round of green flag pit stops on lap 59. Gordon was out front when the first cautions, for debris, fell on lap 68. Gordon pitted under that caution but seven cars stayed out, when everything cycled through Harvick assumed the top spot.
Harvick remained out front until lap 109 when Earnhardt, Jr. grabbed the lead. The No. 8 Chevy was leading when green flag pit stops commenced on lap 125. After all the drivers had come in for service, Earnhardt was back in the lead by lap 132.
A debris caution, the day's second, fell on lap 140. Several of the leaders pitted with Reed Sorenson taking fuel only grabbing the race lead. Sorenson led just a few laps before Kenseth made the pass on lap 148.
Kenseth was leading when the third yellow came on lap 171 when Terry Labonte lost an engine. Kenseth was still on top when Tony Raines took a spin in the grass slowing the field for the fourth time.
The leaders pitted with Kenseth emerging first. The No. 17 Roush Ford led the way when Elliott Sadler spun through the grass on lap 215 causing the fifth yellow. The top three cars of Kenseth, Gordon and Burton did not pit and maintained their positions.
The sixth caution waved at lap 229 when Michael Waltrip made contact with Ryan Newman and cut down a tire. Kenseth continued his charge on the restart at lap 232 but the field didn't even make one lap before Casey Mears smacked the wall causing the seventh yellow.
Kenseth was poised to win when Gordon punted him with five to go causing the leader to spin into the grass setting up a green/white/checker finish. Gordon led on the restart at lap 268 to easily score his first win at Chicago. That leaves just three racetracks on the Nextel Cup circuit where Gordon has never won (Texas, Homestead, and Phoenix).
Kenseth who led a race high 112 laps ended his day with a bang getting caught up in a crash with Mears just as Gordon took the checkered flag. Kenseth wound up 21rst.
Notably, Tony Stewart who ran in the top five all day, ran out of gas on the races closing laps and was forced to pit to get to the end, he finished 32nd.
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead NASCAR Nextel Cup series point standings. Matt Kenseth (-48), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-257), Jeff Burton (-324), Kasey Kahne (-348), Mark Martin (-360), Tony Stewart (-377), Kyle Busch (-386), Kevin Harvick (-398) and Jeff Gordon (-432) complete the top ten.
There were eight cautions for 34 laps and 18 lead changes among 10 drivers.