Jeff Gordon Ends Drought With SUBWAY 500 Victory MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 23, 2005) - Jeff Gordon ended a drought and etched his name a little deeper in the Martinsville Speedway record book Sunday afternoon. Gordon took the lead away from...
Jeff Gordon Ends Drought With SUBWAY 500 Victory
MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 23, 2005) - Jeff Gordon ended a drought and etched his name a little deeper in the Martinsville Speedway record book Sunday afternoon.
Gordon took the lead away from Greg Biffle on lap 360 and led the final 140 laps to win the SUBWAY 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Martinsville Speedway Sunday.
It was Gordon's fourth win of the season, but his first since he won at Talladega, 22 races ago.
"It's been awhile. What a great, great feeling," Gordon said while celebrating in Victory Lane.
It was also Gordon's seventh Martinsville victory, tying him with Rusty Wallace for the most wins among active drivers. He's seventh on the all-time Martinsville win list.
Gordon, who didn't qualify for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, scored a sweep of Martinsville's 2005 Cup races with the victory.
"I know what we are capable of and it's been a tough summer and just the second half of the season has been really tough on us."
Tony Stewart had the dominant car most of the day, leading a race-high 283 laps, but for the second straight Martinsville event he wound up the bridesmaid, finishing second. He led 247 laps in the Advance Auto Parts 500 last spring before running into mechanical woes.
Gordon and Stewart were both in Chevrolets, as was the rest of the top five. Jimmie Johnson finished third, Bobby Labonte fourth and Jeff Burton fifth.
Though he finished second, Stewart built a 15-point lead over Johnson in the Chase for the Championship by finishing one spot ahead of Johnson and picking up 10 bonus points, five for leading a lap and five more for leading the most laps. The pair came into the SUBWAY 500 tied for the points lead.
Ryan Newman, who finished 10th, moved up to third in the Chase, passing Greg Biffle, who wound up 20th and fell to fourth in the Chase.
The win, in front of a sellout crowd, was the 73rd of Gordon's career and the first under crew chief Steve Letarte.
"I'm so proud of this guy right here (Letarte). I can't think of a better way for him to get his first win than for him to make the call," said Gordon.
"The call" was Letarte's decision to leave Gordon on the track when most of the front runners pitted on lap 343 when Casey Mears' spin brought out a caution. Gordon assumed the lead when he didn't pit, and after losing it to Biffle a little later, retook it for good on lap 360.
"I told Steve earlier that I drove for 300 and however many laps and I never got the lead," said Gordon. "He made that call and got us the lead and kept that lead."
Stewart started on the pole and was dominant most of the race. He still had a shot at Gordon on a late restart, but was held up several laps by Biffle, who was a lap down.
"The unfortunate thing is I think Greg was a lap down," said Stewart. "I don't really understand why he held up Jimmie first and then held me up and kept both of us from having a chance to close in."
Virginia native Denny Hamlin turned in his second solid run in three starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin backed up his eighth-place finish at Lowes Motor Speedway with another eighth Sunday.
"It's been a good couple of weeks. We just had a good, solid day," said Hamlin, who logged many laps at Martinsville while running Late Model Stock races on the difficult half-mile oval. "We got behind there, almost two laps down early in the race and had to come in green. I really had to drive my guts out to try to get those laps back."