Darlington, SC--Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon broke out of his 31 race winless streak last weekend at Bristol. The win must have reminded him of how good it feels to visit victory lane. After the race was delayed an hour and 40 minutes...
Darlington, SC--Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon broke out of his 31 race winless streak last weekend at Bristol. The win must have reminded him of how good it feels to visit victory lane. After the race was delayed an hour and 40 minutes due to rain, Jeff Gordon prevailed and drove his No. 24 Chevy to his fifth Southern 500 win.
With the win, Gordon ties Cale Yarborough as the only driver in Darlington history to claim five Southern 500 trophies. Gordon was not only pleased with his back to back wins, he was ecstatic. "These guys have come alive. I think we're just coming up on tracks that suit us."
Along with his victory, he grabbed bonus points for leading the most laps and takes over second in the overall points standings. Gordon trails leader Sterling Marlin by 91 points. "We're gaining. It's not easy to gain on Sterling. We're doing all we can do. We're leading laps, we're fighting hard. Two wins, back to back. This is going to do a world for us. I can't wait to go to Richmond."
Penske's Ryan Newman was the highest finishing rookie and drove his Ford to a strong second place run. The runner-up finish is the third for the young rookie this season.
When asked if he was frustrated finishing in the runner-up position, Newman replied, "It's not necessarily frustrating when you're following Jeff Gordon at Darlington. The guy's pretty good here."
The Brickyard 400 winner, Evernham Motorspors' Bill Elliott was the highest finishing Dodge in third. Points leader Marlin led a majority of the day in his Ganassi backed Dodge entry and pulled out a fourth place run. Robert Yates Racing's Dale Jarrett closed out the top five.
Defending Southern 500 winner Ward Burton finished sixth while Roush Racing's Kurt Busch pulled out an impressive run in his Ford after dropping to the rear of the field for an engine change following Saturday's final practice session. Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart and Gordon's Hendrick teammate, Jimmie Johnson drove to eighth and ninth place runs.
Stewart and Johnson attempted a charge to the front running with 13 lap fresher tires than the remainder of the field. They decided to pit along with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the second to last caution flag of the day. Johnson overcame late tire trouble after his right rear broke a valve stem. Busch's Roush stablemate Jeff Burton rounds out the top 10.
There were quite a few teams who earned the highly noted "Darlington stripe." Petty Enterprises' John Andretti blew an engine on lap 191 and laid oil on the track in turns one and two. The cars of Kevin Harvick, Steve Park, Mike Skinner and Andretti's teammate Jerry Nadeau all found his oil, slipped through it and into either the wall or each other.
Shortly after the restart on lap 207 following cleanup for the incident Andretti's No. 43 began, the cars of ppi's Ricky Craven, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart met the wall. The caution then flew again for the fifth yellow of the day for further cleanup.
23 cars ended the race on the lead lap, marking a new record as the most cars on the lead lap prior to Sunday's race was 19.