Texas recap: Gordon earns first win since 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2009) – Jeff Gordon shook two monkeys off his back on Sunday when he drove his No. 24 DuPont/National Guard GED Plus Chevrolet to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.
In taking the checkered flag, Gordon halted his 47-race winless streak and secured his first victory in his 17th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile oval. Gordon, who remains atop the driver standings, was followed by his teammates Jimmie Johnson in second, Mark Martin in sixth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 20th and Brad Keselowski in 23rd.
“How ironic is this that we go on this streak and then we end it here in Texas—a place that had just eluded us for so long,” said Gordon, who won his last points race in October 2007 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “This was an incredible team effort. This whole year has been amazing. What a great car. We’ve never had a car like this at Texas, and we finally had one and put it into position.”
But holding onto the top spot wasn’t an easy feat for Gordon, who led six times for 105 laps during the 334-lap event.
Johnson started ninth and worked with his team throughout the race on his No. 48 Kobalt Tools/Tough Tools for Cool Schools Chevrolet. He lost position early, but climbed back into the top five as the race wound down. He cracked into the top three in the final 30 laps thanks to a swift pit stop and chased Gordon until the race concluded.
“Five more (laps) and we would have had a shot at him,” said Johnson, who jumped to second in the driver standings. “But we were both driving as hard as we could. It was nice to get our car up to the front and get some clean air on it. We had to work really hard all day long to get the car right. So, I’m very proud of the team. We have our old style back where we just keep plugging away, and we’ll get it right come the end of the race. In another five laps we would have been racing with him. I’m not sure what would have happened, but it was a great race all together, and I’m very happy for Jeff.”
Martin drove his No. 5 Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet from the 23rd starting spot to a sixth-place finish to post his third straight top-10 of the season. Martin topped the charts in the first practice on Friday, but struggled some during qualifying and Saturday’s practice sessions.
“The Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet was really good today,” said Martin, who led three laps during Sunday’s race and improves to 18th in the driver standings. “I was worried after yesterday’s practice that we may have a 20th-place car. But the guys, like every other Sunday, gave me a great race car. They worked really hard, and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made all the right changes to get us in the top 10 today. That last run, we were the loosest we’d been all day. I’m not sure if it was the tires or what. I really wanted that top-five, but just couldn’t get there.”
Earnhardt lined up 20th in his AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet and led once for six laps. He was running in the top 10 when he brushed the wall on Lap 287.
“I was running real, real hard all day,” Earnhardt said. “Trying too hard to run well, and just got into the wall down there in the middle of Turn 1 and 2. The car jumped sideways. Those cars are built pretty tough. It didn’t bend anything in the car. We were just running real hard there, trying to get the best finish we could there. Just got us in there a little deep and got in the fence. My mistake.”
Keselowski, who qualified for his fourth Cup race for Hendrick Motorsports, started 40th on Sunday and climbed through the field for the 23rd-place finish in his No. 25 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
“This was a great learning day for me and the rest of the GoDaddy.com team,” Keselowski said. “Lance (McGrew, crew chief) made some really great changes throughout the race, and we were able to get this car working so much better by the end of the day.”