Jeff Gordon survives to win Talladega

Jeff Gordon survives to win Talladega

Jeff Gordon was the luckiest man at Talladega Superspeedway to have survived the multi-car accidents; including the final one! As five cars battled for the top five positions coming to the white flag lap with Gordon leading, six of the top ten...

Jeff Gordon was the luckiest man at Talladega Superspeedway to have survived the multi-car accidents; including the final one! As five cars battled for the top five positions coming to the white flag lap with Gordon leading, six of the top ten cars made contact setting up a green/white/checker finish.

Jeff Gordon takes the checkered flag.
Photo by Getty Images.
Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. were all in a position to win the race when Michael Waltrip and Jamie McMurray, running just in front of Johnson, checked up causing a logjam behind them. Also involved were Travis Kvapil and Greg Biffle.

Gordon led the event on the final restart followed by Jamie McMurray and Elliott Sadler. They tried to challenge the No. 24 Hendrick Chevrolet, but Gordon with a push from Tony Stewart, easily sailed to his 72nd career win. It is Gordon's second consecutive win at the spring race at Talladega and fourth overall.

"What an incredible race car," said Gordon. "This DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet was just amazing today. On restarts, under green I'd fall back and come up through there. Once I got a little shove and got the momentum I could just drive by guys and I don't know if I've ever had a race car like that.

"So my hat is off to this entire team at Hendrick Motorsports that put so much effort into restrictor plate races. This is a special one."

Gordon was the class of the field today leading a race-high 140 laps. Gordon has shown he is the man on restrictor plate tracks by winning both plate races so far this season.

"The car just got through the air so good," Gordon said. "I don't every remember having a car like that."

Tony Stewart finished second. His fourth top-two career result at Talladega. Stewart had some mojo of his own going. He was spun out in the 25 pile-up but able to gather the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet and continue on the lead lap.

"I tell you what it was a good day for the No. 20 Home Depot Chevy. We got a run with Michael (Waltrip) but we still couldn't catch him (Gordon). I think we have finished second five out of the last six times here, but finishing second here isn't bad.

"Don't overlook us at Daytona and Talladega; we know we got something for them here."

Michael Waltrip was the sole DEI car in contention after the late wreck that collected his teammates. He finished third.

"I pushed him (Stewart) all the way down the back straightaway," said Waltrip. "I thought any minute we were going to step out and make a move on Gordon and Tony said I can't catch him which I think says how good Gordon's car was today."

The Dodge's of Jeremy Mayfield and Jamie McMurray complete the top five.

"We'd got good restarts and passed a couple of cars on restarts so I thought we might have a chance there at the end," said McMurray. "Elliott (Sadler) laid back a little bit more than I did, but he was my friend. We're best friends. He knocked the hell out of me off turn two, but that was cool. It's very stressful, and I'm glad it's over.

"I was fortunate to miss all the wrecks. Donnie (crew chief Wingo) made some really good calls. I just took fuel on that last stop and it put us up front. I think that kept us from getting caught up in that really big wreck. This is probably one of the best cars I've had, and it felt great to put it all together."

The big one came at lap 132 when Mike Wallace and Jimmie Johnson made contact and a twenty-five car melee erupted, turning turn one into a junkyard. Involved in the crash were Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney, Rusty Wallace, Mike Wallace, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs, Jason Leffler, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, Scott Wimmer, Mike Skinner, Brian Vickers, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., Kerry Earnhardt, Sterling Marlin, Casey Mears, Jeff Green, Carl Edwards, Johnny Sauter, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Boris Said.

"I'm not really sure what happened out there," said Riggs. "We were on the outside of turn four and I don't know, something happened.I got put into the wall. Big wreck, you know.

Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon lead the field to the green flag.
Photo by Getty Images.
"That's superspeedway racing. We had a good car and I thought we could be up front, but it didn't happen for us."

NASCAR red flagged the event for forty-three minutes not only to clean up the twisted sheet metal but to repair the safer wall in turn one.

Compared to Saturday's Busch event which was more like a demolition derby than a stock car race, the Cup event was fairly uneventful. There were eight cautions for 30 laps and just two multi-car incidents.

Despite finishing 20th Johnson continues to lead Nextel Cup point standings. Kurt Busch (-130), Jeff Gordon (-157), Greg Biffle (-187), Elliott Sadler (-204), Tony Stewart (-280), Dale Jarrett (-283), Kevin Harvick (-285), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-298) and Jamie McMurray (-301) complete the top ten.

"That's just the way this kind of racing is," said Johnson. "We got tore up. We made it through most of these, but today we got tore up."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Kerry Earnhardt , Johnny Sauter , Kasey Kahne , Mike Bliss , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing