Tempers flare as Jeff Gordon grabs Bristol win

Tempers flare as Jeff Gordon grabs Bristol win

Bristol, TN--Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon finally snapped his 31 race winless streak with a win on the treacherous high banks of the half-mile track at Bristol. Gordon took the lead from Penske's Rusty Wallace with less than three laps...

Bristol, TN--Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon finally snapped his 31 race winless streak with a win on the treacherous high banks of the half-mile track at Bristol. Gordon took the lead from Penske's Rusty Wallace with less than three laps remaining after using the good ole "bump and run" tactic to take the top position.

Being Gordon had not won a race since last year's event at Kansas, what else could he do but go for it. "I just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity. These guys deserve a win. I feel like it's the first time I've ever won."

Jeff Gordon.
Photo by Thomas Chemris.

As for his bump and run on Wallace, Gordon did what he had to do to get the victory. "I knew if I could get to him, I could make a move. I hope he'll understand tomorrow."

Wallace, clearly upset he let a win slip away ,"It's just racing I guess. I would have liked to have won. We're real hungry for it."

As the green flew on the 500 lap event, Dale Earnhardt Jr. jumped out to an early lead, leading from lap one to 130, before polesitter Jeff Gordon finally took over and led for the first time of the night on lap 131. Earnhardt regained the lead on lap 247, but quickly surrendered the position once more to Gordon. As the 24 and 8 swapped spots numerous times throughout the night, other teams were simply fighting to survive the high banks of Bristol.

Jeff Gordon.
Photo by Richard Sloop.

Early in the event, the yellow flag waved often as the first memorable event took place as Elliott Sadler had hard contact with the inside retaining wall after he and Joe Nemechek collided. Sadler was the first of a long list over the course of the night to display his temper after an incident. Sadler climbed from the car, pointed at Nemechek, and punched the side of the ambulance before climbing in for his mandatory checkup at the infield care center.

After a much needed long green flag run, Steve Park spun bringing out the eighth caution flag on lap 292. As the green flew for the restart seven laps later, the lapped car of Dale Jarrett got in the right rear of Jeremy Mayfield. As Jarrett spun up track, he clipped the No. 99 of Jeff Burton. Burton at the time was running fifth for the first time of the race after gaining numerous spots on pit road.

A key moment of the night came after a caution flag on lap 371 for a wreck involving the 77 Ford of Dave Blaney and the 7 of Casey Atwood. Jeff Gordon led a slew of top contenders including Ward Burton, Rusty Wallace, Earnhardt Jr, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, down pit road for fresh tires and fuel.

In line for the restart on lap 378, RCR's Robby Gordon who was involved in more than one rough incident during the night, bumped the No. 48 of rookie Jimmie Johnson numerous times from behind. As the green flag flew, Johnson was sent sideways as Mark Martin's No. 6 slammed into the nose of his No. 48 Chevy.

NASCAR, disproving of Gordon's rough racing, called in the No. 31 to pit road for a two lap penalty. Gordon claims Johnson missed a shift on the restart, causing him to hit the 48. Johnson, on the other hand, wasn't buying it. He climbed from his car, waited for R. Gordon to circle around and flashed him a not-so pleasant gesture. The rookie phenom was less than pleased with R. Gordon's actions. "Just like every other form of racing he's been in, it's always somebody else's fault."

Robby Gordon has been on probation since the spring race at Bristol after spinning Dale Earnhardt Jr. on pit road.

Speaking of Earnhardt Jr, chances are he and Ward Burton won't be chumming it up prior to the Darlington race. Lap 403 saw Burton's No. 22 slamming hard into the wall after Jr. sent him spinning. Burton climbed from the car, waited, and threw his heat shields at the No. 8. "Jr. just didn't take his time. I got some really good words for him." Burton had been running strong all night long in the top five prior to the incident.

Under caution for Burton's spin, Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 of Tony Stewart got in the rear of Petty Enterprises' Jerry Nadeau. Stewart cut an oil line and lost his shot at the win.

After the event finally restarted, the remaining cars that opted to take the late race pitstop with 128 laps remaining appeared to be the cars to beat. Wallace led the mid-pack charge and took the lead from RCR's Kevin Harvick with 17 laps remaining. Harvick's last pitstop came with 148 to go.

The pit stop strategy paid off for those who dipped to the pits for the fresh tires. With Gordon, Wallace and Earnhardt grabbing the top three spots, Harvick ended up fourth, followed by Roush Racing's Matt Kenseth in fifth. Kenseth's last stop fell with 172 to go.

Kenseth's teammate Kurt Busch finished sixth followed by points leader, Ganassi driver Sterling Marlin in seventh. Marlin continues to lead the points over second place Mark Martin. However, after Martin's troubles, Marlin now holds a 98 point lead.

Marlin's teammate, Busch's rival, Jimmy Spencer finished eighth. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Labonte grabbed the ninth spot. The finish was Labonte's first top-10 since his win at Martinsville in April. Mike Wallace, driving the No. 14 AJ Foyt entry, closed out the top-10.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Steve Park , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Jerry Nadeau , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Casey Atwood , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing