An ill-timed caution flag with 25 laps to go ended Jeff Gordon’s chances for his first Watkins Glen victory since 2001. Nevertheless, he posted a 13th place finish and held onto 7th in the series points standings.
Under overcast skies, Gordon started 17th and moved into the top-10 by lap 11. He advanced as high as 7th before a pit stop sequence on lap 26. The first caution waved on lap 28 for Greg Biffle running out of gas on the track. Gordon advanced up to 3rd on lap 32 due to pit strategy. He took the race lead on lap 40 after Juan Pablo Montoya pitted, before losing the top spot to Kyle Busch on lap 44. At the halfway point on lap 45, he ran in 3rd place. Gordon pitted under caution on lap 50 after Kurt Busch wrecked. He restarted in 17th and again moved up through traffic. Due to a pit sequence, he moved to 2nd on lap 64. He took the race lead on lap 65, but was caught on the track when Denny Hamlin crashed in turn 1 — on the lap where he wanted to come to pit road. Gordon eventually pitted under the caution and restarted in 20th place. He moved up to 13th with 4 laps to go before a debris caution slowed the field and set up a green/white/checkered finish.
On the final lap, Gordon eased around Tony Stewart when he went through the grass in the inner loop and finished 13th. It was his ninth top-13 finish in the last 10 races as he held 7th in the points standings.
Road ahead: The series heads to Michigan Speedway for the second time in 2011. Jeff Gordon struggled with handling in the first Michigan race and improvement on the 2-mile oval will be critical going forward as NASCAR closes in on the Chase for the Championship.
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