Jeff Gordon’s runner-up effort at Talladega Superspeedway came after a wild final lap that saw a multiple-car wreck in turn four that eliminated nearly 15 cars. It was Gordon’s 6th top-5 finish in the last 7 races.
Gordon started 6th and moved into the top-5 by the end of the first lap. He stayed in the draft on the low line behind Kasey Kahne and moved up to 3rd place by lap 4. He dropped to 7th before the first caution on lap 18 for a crash involving Carl Edwards and Cole Whitt. Gordon came in for a fuel-only stop and restarted in 10th place. He moved to the outside line on lap 35 and ran behind Casey Mears. Gordon briefly pushed Mears into the lead on lap 50 before the outside line went by. Gordon again pushed Mears into the lead on lap 57 before a green flag pit stop sequence on lap 61.
Gordon moved to the outside line and drafted with Matt Kenseth who pushed the #24 car into the lead on lap 73. He led for 5 laps before Jamie McMurray drafted by. Kasey Kahne picked up Gordon on the outside line and briefly pushed him into the lead on lap 83 before the field went by and dropped the pair outside the top-10. The second caution waved on lap 99 when Kurt Busch ran out of gas and was wrecked on the backstretch. Gordon came in for 4 tires and restarted in 4th place. However, he fell back on the restart without a drafting partner on the outside line. Gordon settled into the lower half of the top-20 with 60 laps to go. He moved to the middle line and moved into the top-10 with 55 to go. A debris caution slowed the field 5 laps later with Gordon in 11th place. He came in to top off the fuel tank under caution with 46 to go. After nearly wrecking behind Kenseth, Gordon dropped to the lower part of the top-20 with 35 to go.
With 20 to go, Gordon ran in 18th place and was biding his time looking for a drafting partner. With 15 to go, Gordon pushed Jamie McMurray into the top-5 on the outside line. Five laps later, Gordon pushed McMurray into the lead. With a drafting push from Dale Earnhardt Jr, Gordon pulled even with McMurray, but was unable to take the lead. Gordon then wound up on the outside line and drifted back to 8th place with Earnhardt Jr in tow. With 8 to go, Gordon and Earnhardt Jr had slipped to 11th and 12th. The Hendrick teammates drafted back into the top-5 with 6 laps to go on the outside line. Jamie McMurray’s spin with 5 laps to go brought out the caution flag. Gordon came to pit road for a splash of fuel to make it to the finish. He restarted in 11th place — directly behind Kasey Kahne — with 2 laps to go. On the final lap, Tony Stewart cut down on Michael Waltrip setting off a multiple-car melee in turn 4. Gordon drilled the rear of Kahne’s car, sending him up the track. Kyle Busch hit Gordon and the #24 car went to the apron. Gordon kept the car straight and was just one of three cars to cross the finish line within 5 seconds of race winner Matt Kenseth. Gordon’s 2nd place effort was his 6th top-5 finish in the last 7 races. He moved up to 6th in the series standings, 42 behind Brad Keselowski.
Gordon stayed on the low line and was able to avoid the last lap melee after getting shoved to the apron.
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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