Jeff Gordon finished 6th in his final race at the famed Daytona International Speedway, although the results were overshadowed by a massive crash on the final lap that saw Austin Dillon’s car launched into the catchfence at the start/finish line. At the front of the field, Dale Earnhardt Jr scored the victory. After nearly a 4-hour delay for rain, the Coke Zero 400 took the green flag just before midnight. Gordon started 23rd and quickly moved into the top-20 by using the middle line. He moved low and entered the top-10 by lap 3. The first caution waved on lap 4 for a wreck triggered by David Gilliland’s spin coming off turn 4. The chain reaction in the pack collected Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte, Greg Biffle, Sam Hornish, and Danica Patrick. Gordon restarted 8th on lap 8. He locked into a tight draft with Jimmie Johnson and entered the top-5 on lap 11. He ran 4th when the competition caution came on lap 25. Pit stops followed with Gordon exiting in 4th place after a two-tire change. On the restart, Gordon was caught on the outside line and dropped out of the top-10. He regrouped from 19th place on lap 31 and used the draft to run 11th by lap 35. Gordon worked his way back into the top-10 by lap 40. He ran in 6th place when the caution waved on lap 53 for Carl Edwards’ spin. Gordon held 6th through the round of pit stops. He moved to 5th on the restart prior to the next caution for David Gilliland’s cut tire. At the halfway point, Gordon ran in 9th place.
A caution on lap 85 for an incident involving Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards, and Brian Scott. Gordon restarted in 4th place after a two-tire pit stop. After running as high as 3rd, Gordon dropped to 10th in the middle line on lap 100. Gordon narrowly evaded a major wreck on lap 106 which was triggered by Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth. The melee eliminated 10 drivers from contention, including Kahne, Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex. Gordon came to pit road for two tires and restarted in 4th place. With 41 to go, Gordon was caught in the middle and dropped to 7th. He regrouped by moving to the low line behind Denny Hamlin. The next caution came on lap 127 for Danica Patrick’s cut tire. Gordon restarted 11th with 28 laps to go. He took a spot from Jimmie Johnson and ran 8th with 25 to go. However, with 23 to go, Gordon was shuffled to the middle line and dropped to 10th. Gordon pulled behind Johnson to re-enter the top-10 on the low line. He moved up to 3rd place behind Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson with 10 to go. Two laps later, David Ragan spun on the backstretch to bring out the caution. Gordon restarted 4th with 9 laps to go. However, he was caught in the middle line and dropped to 7th. With 6 to go, Sam Hornish spun on the backstretch to bring out the caution and set up a green/white/checkered finish. Gordon pushed Kevin Harvick on the final lap, and was collected in the melee after coming across the line in 6th place.
“It was crazy. I’m so glad Austin Dillon’s OK. That was a violent wreck. I hope the fans are OK as well. That was a crazy one. Right from the start I thought it was a wild race with a lot of action and crazy stuff going on. Our car was excellent. It was so good. A couple moves here and there, it’s so hard to predict these races and what line to be in. One time they came up the middle. I thought that was the place to be. Trevor Bayne got to the outside of me and that lane was going. That’s all it takes is that split second decision and one move to go your way or not go your way. We got shuffled back, but we were making good ground behind Kevin Harvick. We were pushing like crazy just wide open. It’s like a video game out there these days, except it’s real life. It’s crazy. I love Daytona. This place has been amazing for me. I can’t believe it’s my final race here. But after going through that experience, I’m glad I just have one more restrictor plate race left.
ON DALE JR:
“I think all the Hendrick cars were strong enough to win, but Dale is so good at picking the lanes, controlling the race, and he’s got a fast race car as well. He does an excellent job. Congrats to those guys.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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MP3 Download – with spotter chatter
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