March 8 – – Kurt Busch captured the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second straight year. Busch made a daring move on the penultimate restart to take the lead. The race was not without controversy as Carl Edwards was parked by NASCAR after retaliating against Brad Keselowski for a bump early in the event. Keselowski’s car flipped over on the frontstretch and pancaked the outside wall with the roof.
Jeff Gordon’s day was an exercise in frustration. Gordon started 5th and dropped a position at the outset to Kasey Kahne. Robby Gordon crashed to bring out the first caution on lap 4. He took a position from Mark Martin, and then took 4th from Dale Earnhardt Jr on lap 15. The second caution came on lap 35 for David Ragan’s cut tire and subsequent contact with the wall. The leaders came to pit road with Gordon exiting in 5th place. On the restart, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano hit the turn two wall after Brad Keselowski clipped Edwards at the bottom of the track. Gordon moved up to 3rd on lap 65, before Kurt Busch took the spot on lap 67. A debris caution on lap 77 brought the lead lap cars to pit road. Gordon departed pit road in 3rd place after a sub-15 second stop. On the restart, Gordon slipped back to 5th before rallying to take 4th on lap 89. He ran in 3rd on lap 100, but dropped the spot to Kahne on lap 109. Mark Martin’s spin on lap 115 brought the caution and the leaders to pit road. Gordon restarted in 8th and moved to 5th by lap 125. However, he dropped to 7th as Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson passed in the next four laps. By lap 142, he was down to the 12th spot after struggling with loose handling.
Gordon pitted for tires and losing more positions. He received a penalty for speeding on pit road, thus necessitating a pass-thru. Joey Logano’s cut tire on lap 160 brought out the caution and trapped Gordon two laps down. He made up a lap by not pitting under the caution flag. Gordon worked his way to 29th — the first car one lap down by lap 185. Trouble struck Gordon on lap 203 when he slowed dramatically in turn one and came to pit road for a tire issue. He ran the balance of the event a lap down before a wreck on the first green/white/checkered lap allowed him to get back on the lead lap. Gordon lined up 19th for the second attempt at a green/white/checkered finish. He gained one spot and finished the event in 18th. Gordon moved into a tie for 11th in the series points standings.
The NASCAR series takes a week off before returning to the track at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 21. Although Gordon has started the season with three finishes of 18th or worse in the first 4 races, they’ve run much better than the results indicate. When you knock on the door long enough, eventually it opens… eventually.
In Car Audio
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