Time wasn’t on Jeff Gordon’s side in the closing stages of the Brickyard 400. After leading 36 laps during the event, he found himself in 16th place with less than 30 laps to go. The assumption was that the cars ahead of Gordon would need to stop for fuel. He drove the final 25 laps harder than the drivers ahead of him, but came up short to one driver — Paul Menard — on the final lap. The 2nd place effort was Gordon’s sixth top-10 finish in the last 8 races.
Gordon started 8th and moved to 6th within three laps. He entered the top-5 with a pass on Kurt Busch and took 4th from Jimmie Johnson on lap 8. Ten laps later he moved into the runner-up spot with a move around David Ragan. However, his progress stalled as Kasey Kahne held a comfortable 4-second lead. Gordon led a lap when Kahne darted onto pit road on lap 25. Two laps later, Gordon came in for a four-tire change. Following the stops, Kahne’s lead ballooned to more than 8 seconds over Gordon. A debris caution on lap 34 slowed the field and erased the gap to Kahne. The top-2 elected to stay on the track and hold their spots. Gordon remained distantly behind Kahne before a caution on lap 50 for David Reutimann’s cut tire. Gordon restarted in 4th after changing four tires. On lap 58, he took 2nd place from Ragan and closed in on Dale Earnhardt Jr for the race lead. He took the lead from his teammate and led the event through a green flag pit stop cycle on lap 82. A caution on lap 94 brought the field to pit road. Gordon opted for 2 tires and restarted in 4th place on lap 98. He moved to 2nd place by lap 105 before a caution for Kyle Busch’s wall contact on lap 113. Gordon restarted 12th due to several drivers opting for two tires.
A caution for Landon Cassill’s spin brought the caution out with 40 laps to go with Gordon in 9th place. With 33 laps to go, Gordon moved up to 6th place. He advanced up to 2nd place with 29 to go — but needed a pit stop for fuel before the finish. He moved into the lead with 28 laps to go as drivers pitted for fuel. Gordon pitted for right side tires and fuel with 27 to go. Gordon returned to the race in 16th place. With 10 laps to go, he moved into the 10th position as he made up 1 second per lap on the leaders who were in fuel conservation mode. With 7 to go, he took the 7th position and was less than 8 seconds behind Jamie McMurray for the race lead. Gordon took 5th with 6 laps to go as he ran nearly 1.5 seconds per lap faster than the leaders. With 4 laps to go, he took 4th from Regan Smith. He took 3rd from McMurray and passed Mark Martin for 2nd place on the backstretch. Gordon closed in on Paul Menard for the race lead with 2 laps to go. However, Menard held him off for the win by less than one second.
Road ahead: The series heads to Pocono Raceway for the second time in 2011. Gordon dominated the June event en route to his 84th career victory. Based on the team’s flat track performance of late, the Pocono race should produce solid results.
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In-Car Audio with spotter chatter
[audio:http://www.scannerbytes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Jeff-Gordon-2011-07-31-Brickyard-400-Indianapolis-with-spotter-chatter.mp3|titles=Jeff Gordon – 2011-07-31 – Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis – with spotter chatter]
Post Race Comments
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