Gordon, Earnhardt, Kahne finish in the top 14 at Richmond
By Jessica Ruffin
RICHMOND, Va.— With 10 laps to go, Jeff Gordon lined up his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS in the third position for the final restart of the night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. When the green flag was waved, he powered his car to the runner-up position and raced hard for the lead before ultimately finishing second.
“We’re just showing up to the racetrack with cars capable of winning,” said Gordon, who continues to lead the driver standings. “It’s a matter of time before we win one.”
Gordon was joined in the top 14 by teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne, who finished seventh and 14th, respectively. Jimmie Johnson encountered two tire issues during the race and was scored 32nd.
Here’s a look how Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared at the 0.75-mile track.
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER OF THE NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Kasey Kahne lined up fourth at Richmond International Raceway and already had cracked the top three by Lap 27. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS secured the runner-up position by Lap 34. During the first competition caution at Lap 40, Kahne told crew chief Kenny Francis that his car felt great and needed no adjustments. Kahne continued to race in the top five and was running fourth by Lap 72. He fell to eighth by Lap 92 and was running 11th by Lap 131. Kahne made his way back into the top 10 and had moved into the eighth position by the restart at Lap 171. By Lap 261, Kahne was running sixth and cracked the top five at Lap 285. Unfortunately for the No. 5 team, Kahne had to return to pit road at Lap 371 because of a missing left-rear lugnut. The unexpected pit stop caused Kahne to lose several positions. Nevertheless, he held on to finish 13th at the 0.75-mile track.
JEFF GORDON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Jeff Gordon lined up 25th at Richmond on Saturday night, and by Lap 26, he had climbed nine positions. He cracked the top 10 by Lap 45, and by Lap 56, he was running seventh. Gordon continued to maneuver through traffic and broke into the top five by Lap 62. He moved into the runner-up position by Lap 92 and took the lead 13 laps later. Gordon continued to pace the field, leading the pack in restarts at Lap 105 and 171. He lost the lead momentarily at Lap 172, but continued to race in the top three. Gordon moved into the runner-up position by Lap 190 and had regained the lead by Lap 208. Gordon lined up second for the restart at Lap 304 behind race leader and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and took the lead with 60 laps to go. After several late-race incidents around him, Gordon lined up third on the inside for the final restart of the night with 10 laps to go. He contended for the top spot, but was unable to take the checkered flag. He finished second the 0.75-mile track.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Jimmie Johnson rolled off the grid 10th at Richmond and immediately began his forward march to the front. By Lap 18, the driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS was running eighth. Johnson moved into the seventh position by Lap 92 and cracked the top five by Lap 119. The three-time Richmond winner continued to race in the top 10, telling crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 48 Chevy seemed to be getting better each run. However, soon after that, Johnson reported a tire issues to Knaus and fell off the pace. Johnson was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop at Lap 290 for fresh tires. Johnson experienced a secondary tire issue toward the end of the race and finished 32nd.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
RECAP: Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 13th at Richmond, and by the first competition caution at Lap 40, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS had cracked the top 10 and was running seventh. Earnhardt moved into the top five at Lap 50 and was running fourth by Lap 79. He told crew chief Steve Letarte that he was losing a good amount of turn in the center of the corners, which caused him to fall to sixth by Lap 131. Undaunted, Earnhardt battled through lapped traffic to crack the top five again just before the halfway mark. Letarte called Earnhardt onto pit road at Lap 228, opting for a four-tire change, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The fast pit stop allowed Earnhardt to gain two positions. Earnhardt broke into the top three again at Lap 274 and moved into the runner-up position at Lap 280 behind race leader and teammate Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt pitted at Lap 300 and another efficient pit stop allowed him to win the race off pit road. He lined up first for the restart at Lap 304. When Gordon took the lead with 60 laps to go, Earnhardt followed him, regaining the runner-up position. Earnhardt lined up second for the final restart of the night with 10 laps to go. He was shuffled on the restart and crossed the finish line seventh, recording his sixth top-10 finish of the year.