Jeff Gordon posted a 5th place finish in the CNBC 500k at Phoenix Raceway. Gordon charged from 14th up to the top-5 in the final 30 laps after he was caught off the lead lap by an ill-timed caution flag.
Gordon started 17th and moved up to 11th by lap 8. He entered the top-10 on lap 15 and took 8th from Greg Biffle on lap 23. He ran 6th when the competition caution waved on lap 35. Gordon gained a spot on pit road and restarted in 5th on lap 39. He dropped a spot on the restart and ran 6th on lap 45. Gordon re-entered the top-5 with a move around Kyle Busch on lap 46. At the 100-lap mark, Gordon ran in 5th. He held the spot through a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 113. Jimmie Johnson passed to send Gordon back to 6th on lap 120.
A debris caution slowed the field on lap 163. Gordon came to pit road for adjustments and restarted 8th on lap 168. Just after the restart, another caution waved for a melee in turn one involving Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, and Travis Kvapil. After dropping to 9th, the next caution came on lap 186 for Patrick’s spin. Gordon moved to 8th with a pass on Kurt Busch on lap 192. He moved to 7th with 90 to go and led 4 laps during a green flag pit stop cycle with 73 to go. A debris caution on lap 246 had Gordon a lap down. He stayed on the track and opted for the wave-around to get back on the lead lap. Gordon restarted 13th with 61 laps to go. The sixth caution waved on lap 278 for debris. Gordon came to pit road for a two tire change and chassis adjustments. He restarted in 12th place with 30 to go.
Gordon moved up to 10th within 3 laps of the restart before the caution waved for David Gilliland’s spin. On the restart with 22 to go, Gordon immediately moved to 8th. He took 7th from Kyle Busch with 18 to go prior to a caution for Kurt Busch’s blown engine. The restart came with 9 laps to go. Gordon dove low on the backstretch to take 5th from Jimmie Johnson with 7 to go.
*First time JG has started the NASCAR season with consecutive top-5 finishes since 1997.
Gordon came to pit road under caution with 30 laps to go for fresh tires. As a result, he had fresher tires than the drivers ahead of him and was able to make headway in the final laps.
“You know when Ryan Newman is in front of you on a restart it’s going to get interesting. I didn’t know if it was going to get interesting because me and him were side-by-side or because he got side-by-side with somebody else. We were able to capitalize on it. Our Pepsi Max Chevrolet started the race really strong and we just didn’t like four tires. We needed two tires and we came in and got two on that last pit stop and unfortunately got caught under the caution under green a lap down. Great fight by this team. What a week it has been for this team from that top-five in Daytona, the Pepsi Max Test Drive II and then here we are with another top-five here at Phoenix. Great way to start the season.”
source: Jeff Gordon Online
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