TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 1, 2005) – Jeff Gordon and Team DuPont went to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, leading 139 of 194 possible laps in an accident-filled event.
The win, which propelled him to third in the championship standings, was the 72nd of Gordon’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career and the third of 2005 for the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team.
“When you get a car like Robbie (Loomis, crew chief) and the guys on this team gave me, it certainly makes life a lot of fun out there,” said Gordon, who drove a No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet with a Star Wars paint scheme. “This is the most dominating performance that I’ve ever had on a restrictor plate track.
“You know, the car really just did everything that I could have asked for it to do. Of course, Talladega isn’t a handling race track, so you don’t have to worry about the car handling. Just shear speed. But it had it.”
Jimmie Johnson finished 20th after a late-race accident took out his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. The El Cajon, Calif., native remains atop to standings with a 130-point cushion over second place.
Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch fell victim to similar circumstances earlier in the event after being caught up in “The Big One”—a colossal multi-car incident involving more than half the field.
Vickers was credited with a 38th-place finish in his No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevy, while Busch’s No. 5 Kellogg’s Monte Carlo was 41st.
Sunday would have marked the 51st birthday of the late Randy Dorton, who headed Hendrick Motorsports’ engine department for two decades.
After the race, Gordon dedicated the win to Dorton and talked about his legacy.
“I had (Randy) on my mind a lot today,” Gordon said. “When we were out there, and that motor was just singing, I couldn’t help but think that Randy was just really smiling somewhere—really impressed and proud, because that’s his legacy, what’s there and what’s been left behind and all the hard work and effort in people he trained. They’re just continuing it on.
“I said after the race was over that I felt like he was in there cranking that engine himself. The thing was running so good that I had him on my mind all day. This one really was for him. That was an awesome win. He would have been the guy that would have been there with the biggest smile when that thing was over.”