Jeff Gordon celebrates with his team in Victory Lane after winning the Aarons 499; Gordon's 77th career NASCAR Nextel Cup win, placing
him sixth on the series all-time win list. More pix in the Photo Gallery at the end of this page...
Gordon Captures Second Straight Win
TALLADEGA, AL (April 29, 2007)- Jeff Gordon was in the right place at the right time Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
The four-time NASCAR NEXTEL cup champion was in front of the field on the restart of a green, white, checkered flag finish and won the 500-mile race before a screaming crowd of 200,000 spectators.
Gordon, in a Rick Hendrick Chevy sponsored by DuPont, finished ahead of teammate Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch in a wild and wooly race that produced enough action for a season, much less a 188-lap sprint that saw the story board change as much as the lead.
David Gilliland was fourth, even though he was involved in the next-to-last-lap crash that produced the final caution of the sunny afternoon.
Gilliland was pinched up the track and trapped Tony Stewart against the wall. Stewart slowed and recovered but was hit again by Gilliland during the aftermath of the accident.
Jamie McMurray was fifth and Kevin Harvick sixth. Talladega favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished seventh.
The race was shaping up to be a spine-tingling showdown before the final caution.
Rounding out the top finishers was David Stremme, who raced with the leaders all day. Ryan Newman was ninth and Martin Truex Jr. 10th.
Stewart wound up 28th, after being one of the cars to beat.
The victory was the 77th of Gordon’s career, moving him one ahead of legendary Dale Earnhardt. It was also another win for the Hendrick organization, which has dominated the series this season.
Familiar paint schemes dotted the high-banked landscape in the early stages of the race, Gordon’s rainbow-colored Chevrolet, Johnson’s blue and gold Chevy, Burton’s orange Chevy, Kurt Busch’s blue Dodge, his brother's blue/yellow Chevy and Denny Hamlin’s black and white Chevy.
Tony Stewart was running up front until getting a pass-through-the-pits penalty for speeding on entrance to pit road. He wound up a lap down but got the lap back when a second caution came out on lap 73.
Stewart was the beneficiary of the "lucky dog" award, which goes to the first car a lap down.
Clint Bowyer hit the wall to cause the slowdown after brushing the wall several laps earlier. His crew obviously didn't think his scrape with the wall damaged the car but a flat tire caused him to crash.
At least four cars were back in the garage before the 43-car field had completed 100 miles. Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Robby Gordon and Dale Jarrett fell out with problems.
Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Sterling Marlin, Ricky Rudd and Johnny Sauter were also mixing it up with the leaders as well as Kevin Harvick, Jeff Green and Elliott Sadler.
Earnhardt laid back in the first half but started moving towards the front at the 100-lap mark.
Complete race results, point standings and more in the Related News section following...
Checkered Flag Fast Facts
Green Flag Fast Facts
- Jeff Gordon won the Aaron’s 499, his 77th victory in 483 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- Gordon moved into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time winners list, breaking a tie with Dale
- This is his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 2007. He remains the point leader for the fifth race,
now leading Jeff Burton by 203 points.
- Gordon won his second consecutive race from the Bud Pole. He was also the last driver to do so, winning
at Sonoma and Daytona from the Bud Pole in 2004.
- This is the first win from the Bud Pole at Talladega since Bobby Labonte in the spring race of 1998.
- This is his fifth victory and 15th top-10 finish in 29 races at Talladega Superspeedway. He moved into a
tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the most wins at Talladega among active drivers. Both run second to Dale
Earnhardt, who had 10 Talladega wins.
- Jimmie Johnson finished second, giving car owner Rick Hendrick his third 1-2 finish this season. Johnson
finished first and Gordon second at both Las Vegas and Martinsville.
- Kurt Busch (third) posted his second top-10 finish in 2007 and his second straight third-place finish at
The Race: Aaron’s 499
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, April 29
The Time: 3 p.m. (AT), 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. (AT), 1:30 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2.66-mile tri-oval
The Distance: 500 miles; 188 laps
The Purse: $6,022,630
2006 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2006 Pole: Elliott Sadler
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (local/CT time): Friday—Practice, 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:05-3:55 p.m.
Saturday—Qualifying, 10:15 a.m.
Pre-Race Point Standings: click here
Practice: Friday, April 27 (SPEED at 3:30 p.m. AT, 2:30 p.m. ET)
Final Practice: Friday, April 27 (SPEED at 6 p.m. AT, 5 p.m. ET)
Qualifying: Saturday, April 28 (SPEED at Noon p.m. AT, 11 a.m. ET)
Pre-Race: Sunday, April 29 (SPEED at Noon p.m. AT, 11 a.m. ET)
Race: Sunday, April 29 (FOX at 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 ET)
Keys to Winning
- Jeff Gordon won the Bud Pole for the Aaron’s 499, his 60th Bud Pole in 482 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
races. He moved into fourth on the all-time Bud Pole winners list, breaking a tie with Darrell Waltrip.
- This is his third Bud Pole this season. He also started first at Texas when qualifying was canceled. This is
Gordon’s seventh top-10 start in 2007 – all top-fives.
- This is Gordon’s first Bud Pole in 29 races at Talladega.
- David Gilliland (second) posted an identical qualifying time to Gordon’s. Gilliland will start second based on
the tie-breaker which is current year car owner points. This is his third consecutive front-row start in a
restrictor-plate race. He won the bud Pole for the Daytona 500 this season and the UAW-Ford 500 at
Talladega last October.
- Denny Hamlin (third) posted his best NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at Talladega. Hamlin also started third in
both of his NASCAR Busch Series races here (2005 and 2006).
- Sterling Marlin (fourth) posted his second top-10 start of 2007 and his best start since he started third at
Martinsville in August 2004.
- Kenny Wallace (sixth) posted his best start since he started fourth at Martinsville in October 2003. That was
also Wallace’s most recent top-10 start.
- This Weeks DNQ List Includes: Michael Waltrip, Brian Vickers, Dave Blaney, AJ Allmendinger, Ken Schrader, Mike
Wallace, Kevin Lepage, John Andretti, Mike Bliss.
- This is the first time that the Wood Brothers have not qualified for a race since this race in 2000
Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 will be the last race at Talladega Superspeedway not using the Car of Tomorrow. The “COT” roll-out schedule has the new car coming to Talladega’s second race this year on Oct. 7.
Here are some keys to negotiating the 2.66-mile track – the largest in NASCAR – that apply no matter what configuration of car is out there.
- Know how to maneuver your car successfully through traffic. Positioning yourself for a strong finish is a key.
- A flawless final pit stop is critical. It’s next to impossible to make up a lot of ground if you have a poor pit stop down the stretch.
- Gather as much information as you can about your competition as the race unfolds.
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and be able to draw upon that history during the course of the race.
- Find out who you can race with as the afternoon unfolds. It’s very difficult to win there without getting some drafting assistance from others. It’s important that the driver gather as much information about his competition during the race and be able to rely on that towards the finish. Knowing who you can draft with and who to avoid is ultra-important.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, April 29
- Ward Burton (No. 4 State Water Heaters Chevrolet) of South Boston, Va., visited the Virginia Tech campus on Monday. Burton,
his wife Tabitha and his 14-year-old son Jeb visited the university’s alumni department, had lunch with the engineering
department and viewed several sites memorializing victims of the April 16 shootings on the campus. The Burtons were
accompanied by Tom Inge, the executive director of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, and his wife Carole. "My son wants to
attend Virginia Tech,” Burton said. “We wanted to go to the campus and show our support, with us being from Virginia and
living in Virginia. Virginia Tech has such an influence everywhere in the state. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.” …
- This weekend at Talladega, all cars will again display the Virginia Tech logo on the “B post” adjacent to the driver’s side window net, in remembrance of the shooting victims. The logos will also be displayed next week at Richmond International Raceway. … Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the Grand Marshal for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. Country music star Joe Nichols is slated to sing the national anthem. … The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located at Talladega Superspeedway, will hold its 17th annual induction ceremony Thursday night. For the first time, a former NASCAR Busch Series champion will be inducted – two-time titlist Jack Ingram. Other inductees: Speedway Motorsports Incorporated Chairman/CEO Bruton Smith; NASCAR great Ray Hendrick, who is being inducted posthumously; former NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson; former motorcycle great Wayne Rainey; and longtime NASCAR car owner Junie Donlavey. … For media attending this weekend’s races, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) will be the “NEXTEL Wake-Up Call” interview guest Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Talladega Superspeedway infield media center.
- Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/ GMAC Chevrolet) occupies the “bubble” spot this week, holding the 35th and final “locked-in” starting spot for the Aaron’s 499.
Weekly in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the top 35 teams in car owner points are guaranteed starting spots for that week’s event. Outside the top 35? That means you have to get into a race based solely on your qualifying speed.
By no means should Mears feel secure, however. Only 103 points separates his team from the 40th-place team of driver Paul Menard/owner Teresa Earnhardt (No. 15 Menard’s Chevrolet).
And actually, the precarious nature of the locked-in bubble also is evidenced the other way; 46 points separate Mears from the 30th-place team of driver David Gilliland/owner Robert Yates (No. 38 M&Ms Ford).
And then there’s the pressure being felt by Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota), whose team is 37th in points. Jarrett has already used five of his allotted six “past champion” provisionals. He needs a strong run Sunday to work his way into the top 35, to avoid having to qualify on time.
- The last three Talladega Superspeedway races have been decided by last-lap passes. In October 2005, Dale Jarrett passed
Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish, just before a caution came out.
In the spring of 2006, Jimmie Johnson passed Brian Vickers in Turn 4 of Lap 188. Last October, Vickers scooted by Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as those two wrecked.
- Tony Stewart (No 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet), remarkably, has yet to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race this season. Even more
remarkable: The two-time series champion, arguably the most talented, versatile race car driver in the world, has never won
at Talladega Superspeedway. There are some coincidental statistics to note. Stewart has two runner-up finishes this season. At
Talladega, he has finished second six times, which yields this dubious distinction: Stewart is tied with Bobby Allison
(at Martinsville Speedway) and Mark Martin (at Pocono Raceway) for the most runner-up finishes without a victory at a track
currently involved in the series. Stewart comes into Talladega seventh in the series point standings, and he has to feel good
about his chances of moving up – and breaking both of his winless streaks. In 16 Talladega races he has 10 top-10 runs and an
average finish of 11.938. He has led laps in 10 races, for a total of 138 laps. His Driver Rating at Talladega (based on the
previous two seasons’ compilation worth of Loop Data) is 96.3 – fifth-best in the series. And don’t forget this footnote: He
finished second in last year’s Aaron’s 499.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy (right) talks with Jimmie Johnson (blue suit) during driver introductions...
Jeff Gordon led the 43-car field to the green flag to start the race...
Competition was three-wide, even four-wide, much of the race. This shot shows Matt Kenseth (17), Jeff Gordon (24) and Kurt Busch (2)...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Bud car) congratulates Jeff Gordon (Dupont car) on the win...
Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick congratulates his driver in Victory Lane...
The winner gets the hardware...
Photo Gallery - Saturday, April 28
Dale Earnhardt Jr. waits for his qualifying run...
Jeff Gordon won his 60th career Bud Pole Award Saturday. Complete qualifying results and starting lineup in the Related News section below. More pix in the
photo gallery at the end of this page...
Photo Gallery - Friday, April 27
Slugger Labbe (left) and Sterling Marlin (right) take a break during Friday practice at Talladega...
Robby Gordon takes a break after setting fast time in Friday's final practice session. See the "Related News" section on this
page for complete practice speed chart rundowns...
David Gilliland checks spark plugs with team engine builder Doug Yates...
Tony Stewart participated in a press conference FRiday after being penalized by NASCAR for actions last week at Phoenix. Click
on the picture for the rest of the story...
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