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Gordon wins rain-shortened Pocono race

August 05, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Gordon wins rain-shortened Pocono race
LONG POND, Pa. -- Former champion now holds second wild-card spot in Chase for the Sprint Cup

Jeff Gordon, one of NASCAR's biggest rainmakers, got a shower just when he needed it in Sunday's Pennsylvania 400.

Gordon didn't lead a lap under the green flag, but he notched a critically important victory at Pocono Raceway, thanks to an opportunistic move to the front after a restart on Lap 91 of a scheduled 160.

Coincidentally, it was a mistake by Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, that enabled Gordon to celebrate in Victory Lane and, more importantly, to resurrect his prospects for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The victory was Gordon's first of the season and 86th of his career. It was his sixth win at Pocono and the second there in a rain-shortened race. Gordon took the checkered flag after 106 laps when rain halted the June 2007 event at the 2.5-mile triangular track.

On Sunday, NASCAR parked the cars on Lap 98, after they ran seven laps under caution as rain moved into the area. When what started as a light rain became a torrential downpour, NASCAR called the race.

Gordon surged to the lead when Johnson got loose in Turn 1 on Lap 91 and knocked Matt Kenseth's Ford into the outside wall. Gordon, who had restarted sixth, saw an opening and dodged a handful of cars wrecking around him.

"I've never seen the seas part like that," said Gordon, who moved to 13th in the series standings and now holds the second wild-card position for the Chase. "I got a good restart, so I really got up to fifth as we were getting into the braking zone going into [Turn] 1. I don't know what happened to the 48. I just saw he got loose, and when he got loose, it took everybody that was in front of us up the race track or into the wall.

"I just made it right to the bottom, stood in the gas and drove out ... and we were leading."

For Gordon, who has experienced more than his share of bad luck this season, the victory was a welcome reversal of fortune.

"It's nice to know that things can still go our way," Gordon said. "The way our year has gone, we'll definitely take it like this. I tell you what, with all the things that have gone wrong for us this year, I'm hoping that this is the one that makes up for it all."

Kasey Kahne finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart. Despite a broken transmission, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 32nd and kept his lead in the standings by five points over Kenseth (23rd), six over Greg Biffle (15th) and eight over Johnson (14th).

Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith and Marcos Ambrose completed the top 10.

Kahne felt his car was the equal of Gordon's, but mistakes on pit road cost him a chance to contend for the win.

"I screwed up in the pits and slid through a little bit and got on top of the hose [to an air gun], so we couldn't use the air hose there," Kahne said. "It cost us a lot of time on the race track and a couple positions.

"I was pretty frustrated with myself -- can't make those mistakes -- but the car was really solid."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• The race was called after 98 laps due to rain.
• Jeff Gordon earned his 86th Sprint Cup win, third all-time, in his 674th start.
• Jeff Gordon hadn't won since September 2011 at Atlanta (31 starts).
• It was Jeff Gordon's sixth win at Pocono, tops among all drivers.
• Jeff Gordon is the 13th driver to win this season.
• It was Jeff Gordon's sixth win in a rain-shortened event; the last time also was at Pocono, in June 2007.
• This is Jeff Gordon's 17th season with at least one win.
• Jeff Gordon led once for eight lap.
• Hendrick Motorsports earned its 206th Cup win. Its seventh victory of 2012 and 13th at Pocono are both most of all teams.
• Chevrolet earned its 26th Pocono win and 11th of 2012, both most of all makes.
• Kasey Kahne (second) got his third top-two finish in the past five races and his best finish at Pocono since his win in June 2008.
• Martin Truex Jr. (third) matched his best Pocono finish (2007); it was his first top-five since finishing fifth in May at Darlington.
• Brad Keselowski (fourth) earned his 11th top-10 finish of 2012.
• Tony Stewart (fifth) got his fifth top-five during the past eight races.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (32nd) had his worst finish of 2012 and failed to finish on the lead lap for the first time this season. It broke a streak of 21 lead-lap finishes.

Notes: Gordon's win comes two days after the announcement that he will become the first NASCAR driver to receive the Heisman Humanitarian Award for his charitable work for children's causes. ... Gordon and Newman are tied in the standings with 611 points each. Gordon gets the nod for the second wild-card spot on a tiebreaker (more fifth-place finishes, given that the drivers are tied for number of wins, seconds, thirds and fourths). ... Hendrick drivers have won seven of the past 11 races. For the first time since 2007, Hendrick has put all four of its cars in the winner's circle.

Watch highlights from the Pennsylvania 400: