Gordon is happy with the win - more aptly amazed that the engine held up to get the win...
Gordon Captures Third Win of Season
DARLINGTON, SC (May 13, 2007) - Jeff Gordon, trying to win his fifth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship, won his seventh race at fabled old Darlington Raceway.
Gordon took the lead with some 40 miles to go in the 500-mile event that produced 10 caution periods and a lot of dings and dents in the cars, including Gordon’s Chevy.
Gordon and others smacked the wall throughout the afternoon, which is commonplace at Darlington. Gordon also had to drive the final laps wondering whether the engine in his car was going to make it. His car began overheating in the last stages of the race.
Denny Hamlin, who has led a ton of laps this season, finished second after a poor pit stop put him well back in the field.
Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson was third.
Ryan Newman was fourth in a Dodge after running with the leaders most of the day. Carl Edwards finished fifth in a Ford.
Tony Stewart was sixth after a tire problem cost him several laps in the pits.
Rounding out the top 10 were Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
It was the eighth victory of the season for Rick Hendricks' Chevrolet racing teams.
The race started with two "greens" instead of one, the traditional green flag and a non-traditional "green" track surface. Torrential rains Saturday night washed away the two days of tire rubber put down on the sandpaper-textured track known as the toughest to drive on the NASCAR circuit. Such circumstances prompted NASCAR officials to tell the teams a mandatory caution flag would be displayed at 40 laps so teams could take a look at their tire wear. Pole sitter Bowyer led briefly before Edwards moved to the front. Hamlin, winner of Friday night's Busch race, also led early.
Johnson, Stewart, Gordon and Earnhardt moved into contention in the first 150 laps.
Bowyer faded as the pace picked up. Mears, however, stayed near the front, skittering around the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. Newman also put his dodge into play in the first half of the race.
Brian Vickers, struggling this season in the Red Bull Toyota, spun and hit the inside wall on lap 123.
Hamlin and Edwards continued to set the pace on the restart. Stewart was next, then Johnson, Newman and Earnhardt.
Stewart moved past Edwards for second on the 162nd lap. Newman passed Stewart for second a few laps later.
By the halfway point, almost every car in the field carried the Darlington stripe, a tell-tale sign of Darlington’s traditional wear-and-tear.
Leader Hamlin seemed to be the only car on the track that had not scrubbed the wall.
Complete race results and point standings in the "Related News" section on this page...
Checkered Flag Fast Facts
Qualifying: Friday, May 11 (SPEED at 4 p.m./AT, 3 p.m./ET)
Final Practice: Friday, May 11 (SPEED at 7:30 p.m./AT, 6:30 p.m./ET)
Pre-Race: Saturday, May 12 (SPEED at 7 p.m./AT, 6 p.m./ET)
- Jeff Gordon won the Dodge Avenger 500, his 78th victory in 484 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is his third victory and 10th top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is his seventh victory and 18th top-10 finish in 27 races at Darlington Raceway.
- Denny Hamlin finished second, .978 second behind the DuPont Chevrolet. It is his sixth top-10 of 2007
and his second in as many races at Darlington.
- Jimmie Johnson finished third, posting his eight 2007 top-10 and his seventh in eight races at Darlington.
- Hendrick Motorsports has won four consecutive races (Phoenix-Darlington). Gordon accounted for three of those
victories with Johnson posting the other. This is the second time this season and the fourth time since 1998 that
HMS has posted four straight wins.
- Gordon retained the point lead for the seventh race and is now 231 points ahead of Johnson.
Saturday, May 12 (FOX at 7:30 p.m./AT, 6:30 p.m./ET) RAINED OUT
Rain Date: Sunday, May 13 (FOX at 2 p.m./AT, 1 p.m,/ET)
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Dodge Avenger 500
The Place: Darlington Raceway
The Date: Saturday, May 12
The Time: 8 p.m./AT, 7 p.m.ET
The Track: .1.366 miles
The Distance: 501 miles; 367 laps
The Purse: $5,507,009
2006 Winner: Greg Biffle
2006 Pole: Kasey Kahne
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (local/ET time): Friday—Practice, 10:30 a.m. - Noon; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. and Final Practice 6:50 – 7:50 p.m.
Pre-Race Point Standings: click here
Keys to Winning
- Clint Bowyer won the Bud Pole for the Dodge Avenger 500, his first career Bud Pole 48 NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup races.
- Bowyer posted a lap of 29.806 seconds at 164.987 mph.
- This is his third top-10 start in 2007.
- This is Bowyer’s second top-10 start in two races at Darlington. He started third here last season.
- Greg Biffle (second) posted a lap of 29.826 seconds at 164.876 mph. This is his fifth top-10 start in
six races at Darlington. He has started third twice and ninth twice in his previous top-10 starts. Biffle
has won the past two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Darlington.
- Jamie McMurray (third) posted his fourth top-10 start of 2007. All of his top-10 have also been topfives
and have come in Car-of-Tomorrow races.
- David Reutimann (14th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Ken Schrader (eighth) was the fastest of the cars that had to make the field on time. This is his
second top-10 start in 2007.
- This weeks Did Not Qualify list includes: Jeremy Mayfield; Ward Burton; Mike Bliss; Michael Waltrip; Dale Jarrett; Scott Riggs.
Saturday night’s sold-out Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington Raceway will be the fifth event featuring NASCAR’s new Car of Tomorrow, and the first at the historic, egg-shaped 1.366-mile track. All the factors usually necessary for a successful run become even more important as the Car of Tomorrow debuts there:
Richmond Green Flag Tidbits
- Darlington’s famously abrasive surface spotlights tire wear; how teams manage it will be key in any performance.
- With weight shifted to the right in the Car of Tomorrow, avoiding a “Darlington stripe” – a black mark from scraping the outside wall – may be a bit trickier.
- Pit strategy becomes paramount with increased tire wear; expect more short-pitting for track position.
- With the probability of more green-flag pit stops, smoothly negotiating Darlington’s pit-road entrance – very difficult under green conditions – is a must for drivers.
- Fuel mileage may not be as big a factor since teams will pit more often for tires.
- As always, drivers must race the track first at Darlington, before they race each other.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, May 13 - Race Pix
- While Greg Biffle is the latest driver to dominate one of the series’ most challenging tracks, one of its former, multiple winners should be counted as another favorite for Saturday night’s Dodge Avenger 500.
- Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six Darlington victories, good enough for third on the
track’s all-time wins list. With eight top-five finishes and two wins in 10 events thus far, he’s one of the series’ hottest drivers. A dominating Darlington performance also would cement his position as the current standings leader (for the sixth consecutive week).
- For the curious: David Pearson leads all drivers with 10 Darlington wins and 12 Bud Poles. Dale Earnhardt is second with nine wins. …
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) 13th-place finish at Richmond last Sunday appeared fairly nominal, but it
helped boost him one spot in the standings to 12th – and into Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup eligibility. All season, Earnhardt Jr. has battled back from a rough start. He was 11th following the April 1 event at Martinsville Speedway, but frustrating results since have necessitated another rebound. He leads 13th-place Jamie McMurray (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford) by 19 points. …
- Eight drivers in the standings’ top 12 experienced position shifts following the Richmond event. The most dramatic belonged to
McMurray, who dropped six spots, from seventh to 13th, after finishing 41st. Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet)
dropped three spots from second to fifth because of engine failure; he finished 43rd at Richmond. Race winner Jimmie Johnson jumped two spots, replacing Burton in second place, behind leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon. Another Hendrick Motorsports driver, Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet), was the race runner-up; he jumped two spots to sixth place. …
Burton hopes to regain lost ground at Darlington, and if he does so, it will be while he’s making some personal history.
Saturday night’s event will mark his 450th career series start. Burton is in his 15th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. He has 19 wins,
the latest at Texas Motor Speedway in April, and finished seventh in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup – a renaissance
season; Burton had finished out of the top 10 for four consecutive seasons prior to the 2006 season. Burton is a two-time Darlington winner (both 1999 events). He also has eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 24 career starts there.
- Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ameriquest Ford) will attempt something this week that only two drivers have done – win three consecutive
events at Darlington Raceway. “I tell you,” he said. “I really, really love Darlington.” And here’s why: He’s the two-time
defending champion of Saturday night’s sold-out Dodge Avenger 500. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)
and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt are the other drivers with three consecutive Darlington wins. “It's the toughest
racetrack we go to,” Biffle said during Monday’s weekly teleconference. “It's just a very, very challenging place, and
that's what I mostly love about that racetrack is how tough it is.” Biffle is one of only five active drivers who have won two or more Darlington events, a list that includes Gordon, Earnhardt, four-time series runner-up Mark Martin (No. U.S. Army Chevrolet), and former series champions Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota) and Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. chat pre-race...
Denny Hamlin leads the pack to the green flag...
Jimmie Johnson (48) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. race for position...
Jeff Gordon's 24 team during a pit stop...
Gordon receives congrats from his team - with the car still steaming hot...
Victory Lane celebrations...
Photo Gallery - Sunday, May 13 - NASCAR Mom's - click here
Photo Gallery - Friday, May 11
Carl Edwards is happy with his qualifying run...
Clint Bowyer - before his pole winning run at Darlington - the first of his NASCAR Nextel Cup career...More pix at the end of this page...
Mark Martin (left) talks with Juan Pablo Montoya...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is likely smiling because he's happy to get in his car - after the week he's had...
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