Martin Truex snapped a long winless streak with a victory on the road course in Sonoma, California. Truex used fuel strategy to his advantage to take the lead. In the closing stages he held a comfortable lead over Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon en route to the win. Gordon posted a runner-up finish after an early race error when he came to pit road when it was closed. Gordon rallied back to finish 2nd — his best effort of the 2013 season.
Gordon started 10th and dropped to 11th on lap 2 after Juan Pablo Montoya went by at the end of the chute. He dropped to 12th when Tony Stewart passed, but regained two spots after Montoya spun Kyle Busch in turn 11 on lap 3. He moved to 9th with a move around Joey Logano on lap 5 prior to the first caution for Paulie Harraka’s wreck. On the restart, Gordon took 8th from Stewart but fell back to 9th when Montoya passed on lap 11. He regained the 8th spot with a pass on Greg Biffle on lap 21. Gordon came to pit road for tires on lap 24 just as a caution flag waved for rain. However, pit road was closed when Gordon had committed to pit road and received a penalty to start at the end of the line. Gordon came to pit road to top off the fuel and restarted 38th on lap 31. He moved up to 36th prior to the next caution on lap 32 for Alex Kennedy’s crash. Gordon steadily worked through backmarkers and ran 26th on lap 40. His forward march continued as he gained four more spots by lap 46 to run in 22nd place. He re-entered the top-20 on lap 51 with a pass on Ryan Newman and ran 18th at the halfway point.
By lap 60, Gordon had advanced up to 15th place. He had moved to 13th prior to a caution on lap 63 for Danica Patrick’s cut tire. Gordon came to pit road for tires and restarted in 20th place. He gained five spots within a lap of the restart before a caution for Denny Hamlin’s spin on lap 67. Gordon opted to stay on the track and restarted in 4th place on lap 71. He moved to 3rd on the restart prior to a caution for Victor Gonzalez’s crash at the rear of the field. Gordon took the runner-up spot from Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 78 and closed in on Joey Logano for the race lead. Gordon passed Logano in turn 11 on lap 80 to take the lead. He opened up a two-second lead before Kyle Busch spun into a tire barrier to bring out the caution on lap 82. Gordon came to pit road for fuel and tires and restarted in 18th place — assured he could make it to the finish on fuel. He moved into 15th place within a lap of the restart and took 14th after David Stremme spun on lap 87. Gordon gained three spots in the next three laps and ran 11th on lap 90. He re-entered the top-10 on lap 91 after Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart spun in turn 11.
Gordon took 8th from Jimmie Johnson with 18 laps to go and took 7th from Greg Biffle with 15 to go. One lap later he passed Kevin Harvick for 6th and then took 5th from Marcos Ambrose. After passing Matt Kenseth for 4th he set his sights on Carl Edwards for the 3rd spot. An inside move in turn 11 with 10 laps remaining pushed Gordon up to 3rd place. He took 2nd from Montoya on the final lap after the #42 car ran out of fuel. His runner-up finish was his best effort of the 2013 season.
Crew chief Alan Gustafson made the call to take four tires during a caution period on lap 83. The fresher tires allowed him to move from 18th into the top-5 in the closing stages.
“This is one of those crazy types of races where pit strategy goes all over the place and you never know what might happen. We were on a three-stop strategy and that’s why we wanted to come in when we did. I hate it for Alan because I’m right there and I couldn’t turn away. At the time, I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I don’t know who has it worse right now, me or him?’ Because the way things have been going on the track for me haven’t been great and the way things have been going with the calls haven’t been going his way either. But finally we had a race car that was fantastic. The pit crew and Alan the rest of the day were just spot-on with great adjustments. We had a lot of fun out there. I knew that we could probably never get to the 56 (Truex), but we sure were having a lot of fun coming up through there.”
Source: Jeff Gordon Online
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