Winner: Jeff Gordon, driver of the ...
Winner: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports
Top-five finishers: Gordon, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth
Race recap: It wasn't easy, but Jeff Gordon overcame a couple potential disasters to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night.
Starting from the pole position, Gordon noticed that the radio installed in his driver's helmet wasn't working, so he and the crew paused on pit road to swap it out for another one. Because it was deemed a safety issue, Gordon was able to keep his position. Later, the four-time series champion came onto pit road for his final pit stop under green flag conditions. However, he was well on his way into his pit stall when the yellow flag flew. He and crew chief Steve Letarte chose to pit anyway and completed the stop before race leader Tony Stewart passed by on the track, thus giving Gordon lead when the rest of the lead lap cars pitted under the caution.
Stewart made a daring, three-wide move to re-take the top spot on lap 299, but Gordon shot back by the next lap to take the lead for the final time in the 312-lap event. Stewart, who led the most laps with 132, wound up second, followed by Denny Hamlin, who was forced to give up the lead earlier in the event when he was penalized for speeding on pit road.
The victory gave Gordon 76 for his career, tying him for sixth on the all-time list with Dale Earnhardt. Gordon paid tribute to Earnhardt by carrying a flag with the late champion's No. 3 emblazoned on it during his victory lap.
Gordon now holds a 74-point lead over Jeff Burton in the championship standings. The series' ninth of 36 races is scheduled for Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday.
Goodyear quote -- Rick Heinrich, Product Manager: "This was our first 'Car of Tomorrow' race on this new tire combination and we were very happy with the way they performed. The new car challenges tires with hotter brake temperatures, but our Eagles were perfect all weekend."
Companion event: Clint Bowyer led 120 of 200 laps to win the NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix on Friday night. Nextel Cup regulars swept the top-12 spots, with Matt Kenseth second and Jeff Burton third. Carl Edwards extended his championship lead to 424 points over Dave Blaney after just nine of 35 races. The race saw 11 cautions for 57 laps and nine lead changes among six drivers.
-credit: goodyear racing