JEFF GORDON TAKES FIRST CAREER WIN AT PIR, 76TH CAREER WIN TO MATCH THE LATE DALE EARNHARDT, AND GIVES IMPALA SS THIRD WIN OF SEASON Jeff Gordon Wins Career First at Phoenix and Maintains Point's Lead; First Victory of 2007 Ties Record of 76 ...
JEFF GORDON TAKES FIRST CAREER WIN AT PIR, 76TH CAREER WIN TO MATCH THE LATE DALE EARNHARDT, AND GIVES IMPALA SS THIRD WIN OF SEASON
Jeff Gordon Wins Career First at Phoenix and Maintains Point's Lead; First Victory of 2007 Ties Record of 76 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Wins with Late Dale Earnhardt, Sr.; Win is Third for Hendrick Motorsports in Debut Season for Impala SS
Team Chevy Drivers Capture Four of Top-Five and Eight of Top-10 in Subway Fresh Fit 500
Avondale, AZ - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, battled Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS to the checked flag to capture his career-first victory at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The hard-fought win was his first of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) season and the 76th of his career to tie the win record of the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
The four-time NNCS champion started on the pole, the 59th of his career, and led 53 laps of the 312-lap/312-mile/500K Subway Fresh Fit 500. The win extended his lead in the point standings to 74 points over fellow Team Chevy driver Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS. Burton finished 13th in tonight's race.
"It means the world to me," said Gordon from victory lane, who had a helmet change because of radio problems just before rolling off pit road at the start of the race. "Just to get a win at a track we never won at before. I drove my guts out. I never had to drive so hard for a win. I love racing Tony Stewart and Jimmie and all those guys that were racing there at the end. You know, holding that No. 3 flag certainly was by no means saying I am as good or we are as good or even close, but we just wanted to honor Dale in that way. It really means a lot to me. I learned so much from him. To even come close to anything he had ever done in this sport is amazing to me. We just wanted to honor him. We'd been holding on to that flag for a long time. To get 76 wins is just incredible.
"It seemed like it was in the cards for us tonight. We didn't lead a ton, but we had a good car. I would go for a long way and be one of the best cars and then it would fall off a little bit. We kept adjusting and adjusting. Luckily I had a radio when we switched that helmet out. The yellow did fall in our lap, we got lucky getting off pit road when the caution came out but I thought we needed to keep going through and I almost drove through the pit, Steve made the call and I love him as a crew chief. He is an awesome guy and as sharp as can be. He made that call, he talked to the spotter and talked to me and the team, he is so cool under pressure. Man, this is just an awesome, awesome feeling. It is great to get the Chevy Impala SS in victory lane. I don't know what to say, I am just overwhelmed right now. It is just an amazing victory for us. I can't believe we finally won at Phoenix."
Team Chevy drivers set a PIR record by leading 311 of the 312 laps on the way to scoring eight of the top-10 finishing positions.
Stewart finished second after leading 132 laps. The two-time NNCS champion moved up two positions in the standings to seventh.
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Impala SS led for 72 before a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the back of the field. He rebounded to finish third and sits fifth in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, finished fourth after an early race electrical problem threatened his race. Johnson maintained his fourth place position in the point standings after eight of the 36-races in 2007.
Jeff Green, No. 66 Best Buy Impala SS, scored his season-best finish taking the checkered flag in sixth place. Kyle Busch, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS finished seventh and moved to sixth in the standings.
Johnny Sauter, No. 70 Yellow Transportation Impala SS, his career-best finish coming across the line in ninth place.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, was the leader for 52 laps of the race but handling issues dropped him to 10th in the finishing order. Harvick moved back in to the top-10 in the standings now sitting in 10th spot.
Joe Nemechek, No. 13 Pinnacle Impala SS, and Sterling Marlin, No. 14 Waste Management Impala SS, were each credited with leading a lap to give Chevy credit for holding the point for all but one lap of the race.
Team Chevy will be back in the Monte Carlo SS for round nine of the 2007 season on April 29 at Talladega Superspeedway.
-credit: gm racing