Gordon grabs 1st win of season at Martinsville

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER, AMP;LT;\N and AMP;GT;AP AUTO RACING WRITER
  • Updated: October 27, 2013 - 8:00 PM
hide

Jeff Gordon (24) holds the checkered flag as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Martinsville Speedway Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Martinsville, Va.

Photo: Geoff Burke, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Jeff Gordon used an unprecedented chairman's selection to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship 48 hours before the opening race.

Now Gordon is trying his hardest to parlay that exemption from NASCAR chairman Brian France into a fifth title.

Gordon pulled into the championship picture Sunday with a win at Martinsville Speedway, his first of the season, to move from fifth to third in the Sprint Cup standings with three races remaining. Not too bad for the guy who started the Chase as the 13th driver in the field when France decided Gordon had been denied the ability to fairly race his way into the 12-driver field by the manipulations of at least three other organizations at Richmond.

"I don't like how we got in it, being an added 13th team," Gordon said. "But we're certainly not going to say `No, we won't take it.' We wanted to be in it. We feel like we were in a position to earn our way into it, and I think that this team would have performed like this whether we were in it or not.

"To me, that decision just meant that what we're going to be racing for is a championship instead of for ourselves and pride."

The win was Gordon's eighth career victory at Martinsville, but first since he swept the two races at the track in 2005. He's tied with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for Martinsville victories, but both trail Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11) on the career list.

Most important, though, is that he's just 27 points behind the leaders in the race for the Sprint Cup.

Matt Kenseth and Johnson left Martinsville tied atop the standings headed into Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon is third in the standings, with Kevin Harvick 28 points out and Kyle Busch 36 points behind.

"I do feel like it's plausible," Gordon crew chief Alan Gustafson said. "I think we can go win these next three races, and I think that anything can happen. It's not going to be easy, never is easy, it's not going to be easy for them, either."

Kenseth led a race-high 202 laps and was out front on the final restart with 77 laps remaining and Gordon lurking in third. Gordon stalked him for more than 50 laps, thinking to himself, "What would Jimmie Johnson do, or better yet, what would Richard Petty do?" before finally making the pass for the lead with 21 laps remaining.

Gordon didn't look back in snapping a 32-race losing streak dating to last year's season finale at Homestead.

"Matt drove a really first-class caliber race today and I didn't know if we were going to get him, but it sure was awesome when we finally did and just kind of hoped there were no cautions," Gordon said.

The victory clinched the manufacturers' championship for Chevrolet, which won for the 11th consecutive season and 37th time overall. Chevrolet did it this year in the debut season of its SS race car.

Kenseth tied his career-best with a second-place finish, closing the gap on Johnson, who was up four points as they came into one of Johnson's best tracks and one of Kenseth's worst tracks. He had to drive from the middle of the pack to save his finish after a call not to pit midway through the race backfired, but Kenseth was still a bit disappointed not to leave with the victory.

"Whenever your team puts you in front for that last run and you're out there leading, you get beat, you're always a little bit disappointed," Kenseth said. "I just got beat by honestly experience and a better driver of this track. I was hesitant to change my line and do the things he was doing because what I was doing got me there. Just got too tight at the end. Wish I could do it over."

When it was time to leave, though, Kenseth had found the silver lining.

"I mean, gosh, for how Martinsville has been for me, how could you not be pleased?" he said. "The only guy happier is Jeff. I feel like when my team is at its best and we do everything right, I feel like we can race anybody at these next three tracks. Anything can happen, but man, we're in it."

Clint Bowyer finished third, his best finish of the Chase, and moved two spots in the standings to sixth.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, who is not part of the Chase, was fourth.

Johnson finished fifth and braced for an epic fight for his sixth championship.

"It's been a great battle with (Kenseth) and (Gordon) has really shown that he wants to be part of this deal as well," Johnson said. "It's going to be a dogfight to the end -- the way I would like to race for a championship, and I know that's what the fans want to see, so we'll be digging hard."

Harvick was sixth, followed by pole-sitter Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray.

Biffle angrily confronted Johnson on pit road after the race, accusing the five-time champion of running into him and tearing off his rear bumper.

"It takes a lot to get a rear bumper to come off," Biffle said. "I've got to look back and see what happened. He claims he was inside of me, but it sure felt like he hit me from behind and rubbed it across."

Biffle grabbed Johnson's shoulder to get his attention, exchanged words with him, and as he turned to walk away, Johnson reached to grab his arm to finish the discussion. Biffle ended the conversation.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs 5 Top 7th Inning
St. Louis 1
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 6 2nd Qtr 2:14
Massachusetts 0
West Virginia 3 1st Qtr 1:49
(2) Alabama 3
Rice 7 1st Qtr 2:13
(17) Notre Dame 7
(10) South Dakota St 7 1st Qtr 4:44
(24) Missouri 21
Fla Atlantic 7 1st Qtr 1:34
(22) Nebraska 7
California 14 1st Qtr 0:03
Northwestern 0
Marshall 14 1st Qtr 1:51
Miami-Ohio 0
UC Davis 0 1st Qtr 12:07
(11) Stanford 7
Arkansas 0 1st Qtr 9:58
(6) Auburn 7
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 1st Half 44:55
Seattle 0
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close