Rewind: Finally — Jeff Gordon tied Cale Yarborough on NASCAR’s all-time wins list with his 83rd victory in the Subway 500k at Phoenix Raceway. Gordon dominated the event leading 138 of the 312 laps. Gordon started 20th and worked his way into the top-5 by lap 50. However, on lap 59 he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Carl Edwards got into the grass on the backstretch and slid up the track. Gordon made contact with Edwards’ car and pancaked the retaining wall with the right side of the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. Gordon came to pit road to repair the damage and restarted in 34th place. Restarting in the rear proved advantageous when Brian Vickers wrecked and started a chain reaction crash on the backstretch. Gordon was able to stop on the track and avoided getting caught up in the 12-car melee. He stayed out under the caution and took the lead from Ryan Newman on lap 77. Gordon went back to the top spot on lap 124 before a caution for David Ragan’s wall contact. In the closing stages, Gordon flexed his muscle by passing Tony Stewart for 2nd with 20 laps to go, and Kyle Busch for the victory with 8 to go. It was Gordon’s second win at Phoenix and moved him within one victory of Darrell Waltrip’s career total.
Road ahead: The 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway is next on the schedule. Gordon dominated the race in 2010 only to see his victory hopes come unhinged in the final 25 laps following a two-tire pit stop. It’s early in the season, but it’s clear that Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson have jelled very quickly.
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