Whitesburg KY

Gordon win adds to mix



First and foremost this week our prayers and thoughts go out to those fans involved in the lightning strikes following the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.

It just seems like the entire country is suffering through some type of severe weather, and race tracks are definitely not immune from being in the path of a deadly storm.

Weather played a huge role all day as the race was nearly two hours late in starting as track offi cials labored to dry the huge 2.5- mile track. When the race did get the green flag, crew chiefs kept one eye on the action on the track with the other keeping a close watch on the action showing up on the weather radar.

The radar showed there was little chance the race would be able to complete all of the scheduled 160 laps and there was even some concern that it wouldn’t even reach the halfway point of 80 laps that would make it an official race. Track position was the key as every crew chief wanted to keep his driver up front for whenever the rain did come.

Strategy will always play a huge role in any win in the Sprint Cup Series, but in the case of a rainshortened event it helps if you are also lucky. Rain was nearing the track with Jeff Gordon sitting in sixth place as Jimmie Johnson was leading the field on a restart on lap 91. Johnson slid up the track as he entered turn one and in the process knocked Matt Kenseth into the outside wall.

The contact between the two cars forced the rest of the field in front of Gordon to move up the track, leaving the Hendrick Motorsports driver a wide-open path to the front of the field. Gordon took the lead as the caution flag came out. After seven laps under caution, NASCAR stopped the race as the rain had moved in. The sanctioning body didn’t wait long to call the race as the rain quickly intensified.

Shortened race or not, Gordon did what he needed to do to pick up his first victory of the season. After suffering through a horrible year, he now finds himself in the thick of the wild card chase. Kasey Kahne leads all wild card drivers with two wins on the season and Gordon is actually tied with Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano with one win.

When you have more than one driver tied with the same number of wins, the tie is broken by where the drivers are in the point standings. The driver highest in the standings will get the spot, but in this case Gordon and Newman are actually tied in the points. Ties in the points are broken by the number of 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and on down until one driver has the advantage. Gordon wins the tiebreaker for now by the slimmest of margins.

Gordon may be in the Chase for now but with five races still remaining before the field is set, all it would take is a win by one of the drivers he is tied with to bump him out. He also has to look out for Carl Edwards, who is one spot ahead of him in the points in 12th and only needs a win at this point to take Gordon out of the Chase.

Only Kahne at this time has any breathing room in the group of wild card drivers as he sits in 11th with a one-race lead on the rest of the field. Gordon is anything but secure in making the field, but every driver knows the easiest path to the championship round is to win another race. That’s the kind of mentality that can sure make for some great racing over the next five weekends.

PIT NOTES: Jimmie Johnson’s remarkable run over the last six years has overshadowed the success that Jeff Gordon has experienced in his Sprint Cup career. The four-time Sprint Cup champion’s win on Sunday was the 86th of his career, third all-time in the sport following only Richard Petty and David Pearson. Both of those drivers are in the Hall of Fame, and there is little doubt when Gordon crawls out from behind the wheel for the last time that he can begin working on his acceptance speech for when he is honored for what has been a Hall of Fame career.

Race Preview
Event: Finger Lakes 355 (k)
Track: Watkins Glen International (2.45-mile road course, 11
Date: August 12, 1:00 p.m.
Radio: MRN
Defending Champion: Marcos

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