Jeff Gordon scored the 300th top-5 finish in his 700th career start. Gordon led 16 laps in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, but was unable to gain track position late in the event to challenge for the win.
Gordon started 8th and moved to 6th by the end of lap 4. He dropped to 7th on lap 14 when Matt Kenseth went by. Gordon battled a tight handling condition and fell back to 8th on lap 20. Gordon moved back into 7th place after getting around Martin Truex on lap 45. Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 53 and returned to the race in 9th place. He moved to 8th prior to the next green flag stop on lap 103. Gordon ran 9th when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 124. Pit stops followed with Gordon restarting 8th on lap 129. He advanced two spots shortly after the restart and ran 6th on lap 140. Gordon took 5th from Kurt Busch on lap 151. Following a pit stop, Gordon assumed the lead for 15 laps before Kyle Busch took the top spot on lap 205.
Gordon dropped to 5th prior to a round of green flag pit stops. The second caution waved with 66 laps to go when Regan Smith spun. Gordon restarted 6th with 59 to go and moved to 5th prior to Casey Mears’ crash two laps later. Gordon stayed out and restarted in 4th place. On the restart, Gordon fell to 7th after Matt Kenseth spun his tires in front of him. A caution for Josh Wise’s crash slowed the field with 39 to go. Pit stops ensued and Gordon restarted 6th with 35 to go. The next caution waved when Kasey Kahne crashed in turn 1. Gordon moved up to 4th for the restart with 30 to go. He closed in on Denny Hamlin for 3rd but was unable to make headway and finished 4th.
The 4th place effort was Gordon’s 300th career top-5 finish. He became the 2nd youngest driver in NASCAR history to reach the milestone.
Track position hindered Gordon’s shot at a victory, but he scored a much-needed top-5 finish — just his second top-5 of the season.
“I was excited that Darlington was going to be the 700th start. This team was ready to go out there and do battle. That’s what it takes at this tough race track. I’m really proud of this team. I thought Alan called a great race. We made the right adjustments at the right time and got good track position with tires at the end. So, we needed track position. I thought our car was actually pretty fast there at the end. We just couldn’t quite get it. We were always balancing between tight and loose. Right there at the end was about the best the car had been. It took off really good, but it started getting tight on me. Then Jimmie started catching us. I think that’s about the best we could have asked for, but you always want to get out there in clean traffic and see what it will do.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
Bojangles Southern 500 In-Car Audio
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MP3 Download – with spotter chatter
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MP3 Download – Post Race Comments
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