October 11 – – There was a point in the Pepsi Max 400 where Jeff Gordon’s fledgling championship hopes were on fumes. The driver had received a pit road speeding penalty with less than 50 laps to go and was mired back in traffic. A late race caution flag coupled with a determined driver helped salvage a 9th place finish. Although Gordon dropped to 85 points behind Jimmie Johnson, his fortunes were better than they would have been if the race had been green to the finish.
Gordon started 17th and picked up two positions on the opening lap. He continued slicing through traffic and moved into the top-10 on lap 5. He passed Mark Martin for 9th place on lap 7. On lap 10, he passed Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya to take over 7th place. Gordon moved into the top-5 on lap 15 by getting around Kasey Kahne. However, debris on the grilled forced him to let Clint Bowyer go by so he could tuck in behind to get the debris off. He moved back into the top-5 on lap 35 after getting around Elliott Sadler. Gordon came to pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 38. He ran in 4th after stops cycled through the field. The first caution waved on lap 40 for Greg Biffle’s blown engine.
Gordon restarted 4th and took the lead from Matt Kenseth off turn four. However, Jimmie Johnson powered past one lap later. On lap 49, he dropped to 5th after running up the track in turn four. He took 4th from Kenseth on lap 53 before the second caution for Marcos Ambrose’s cut tire. The lead lap cars came to pit road with Gordon holding 4th place. He moved to 3rd after the restart. One lap later, the caution waved for Carl Edwards stopping on the track. Gordon took the runner-up spot from Kyle Busch on lap 65, but dropped to 3rd on lap 68 when Mark Martin went by. Green flag pit stops cycled through the field on lap 97 with Gordon running 3rd. On lap 104, Gordon ducked low and took 2nd from Johnson. A debris caution on lap 113 allowed Gordon to erase Martin’s 5-second lead. Gordon’s crew sent him back onto the track with the lead.
Gordon chose the outside line for the restart on lap 118. He paced the field until Bowyer took the lead on lap 125. One lap later Mark Martin passed Gordon for position. On lap 130, Tony Stewart took 3rd from Gordon as he battled loose handling issues. Denny Hamlin sent Gordon back to 5th with 65 laps to go. A caution for Ambrose’s spin with 64 to go brought the leaders to pit road and allowed Gordon’s team to make chassis adjustments. Gordon gained two spots on pit road and restarted 2nd with 60 to go. The inside line hindered Gordon as he dropped to 4th behind Stewart, Bowyer, and Ryan Newman. With 50 to go, Martin and Kasey Kahne passed Gordon sending him back to 6th. Gordon faded to 8th with 46 to go before a caution for Kyle Busch’s blown engine. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon departing in 11th place. However, he received a penalty for speeding entering pit road and restarted at the tail end of the lead lap. “I’m sorry about that guys, I knew I was on the edge but I didn’t think I’d be over,” Gordon radioed to his crew.
He restarted in 30th with 41 to go and began making his way through traffic. With 39 to go, he ran in 25th. A debris caution with 18 laps to go brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon restarted in 25th and gained 10 spots in 10 laps to run 15th. With 7 laps to go, David Ragan and Kurt Busch wrecked on the frontstretch to bring out the caution. Gordon ran in 13th place at the caution flag. Gordon opted to come to pit road for two tires. Gordon restarted 12th for the green/white/checkered finish. He passed three cars and finished 9th. At the front of the field, Stewart held off Bowyer and Johnson to take the victory. Gordon moved to 4th in the standings, but trails Johnson by 85 points.
In Car Audio MP3
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Post Race Comments
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