It wasn’t a victory, but a much-needed top-10 finish for Jeff Gordon on a track where he struggled four months ago. Gordon started 30th and advanced into the top-10 by staying on the track during an early caution period. His strategy worked out as a caution on lap 59 brought the field to pit road, thus allowing Gordon to keep the track position gained and restart in the top-15. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 11th place. A caution on lap 110 for Casey Mears’ spin brought the field to pit road. Gordon lost a spot and restarted 12th on lap 117. Gordon stayed on the track following a caution for Paul Menard’s crash on lap 132 and moved up to 10th. He worked traffic over the mid-stages of the race and ran 8th at the 180-lap mark. Gordon stayed on the track to lead a lap during a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 189. Gordon complained of a loose condition with 100 laps to go. A caution flag with 84 laps to go brought the leaders to pit road.
After opting for four tires and topping off the fuel, Gordon restarted in 20th place with 79 laps to go, but experienced handling problems which hindered his progress. A caution on lap 247 brought most of the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon stayed on the track to gain positions knowing he could make it to the finish on fuel. He restarted in 10th place with 60 laps to go. He moved to 9th when Ryan Newman crashed with 56 laps to go, but dropped out of the top-10 with 40 to go. Gordon moved up to 10th with 20 laps to go when Jeff Burton slowed with engine problems. He moved to 9th with 16 to go when Marcos Ambrose’s engine expired, and took 8th when Carl Edwards ran out of gas with 3 to go.
Gordon moved from 35th to 22nd in the series points standings, and posted his fourth top-10 finish in the last 6 races.
After starting deep in the field, crew chief Alan Gustafson kept Gordon on the track during an early caution period to gain track position. Following that call, he was never lower than 15th place for the rest of the day.
[audio:http://www.scannerbytes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2012-03-04-Jeff-Gordon-Subway-Fresh-Fit-500-Phoenix.mp3|titles=2012-03-04 – Jeff Gordon – Subway Fresh Fit 500 – Phoenix]
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