350 K -
One year ago:
Jeff Gordon won
his sixth consecutive road course race. Sterling
Marlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top
Gordon grabbed his fourth Bud Pole of the
season at the 11-turn road course on
Friday. The pole was also Gordon's third
in the last four races at Sears Point.
Gordon's lap of 76.842 seconds (93.699
mph) was plenty good enough to beat Rusty
Wallace's speed (93.417).
the 18th driver to qualify, had nothing
but praise for his team.
It was a great day
for us, but I didnt know what to expect
without testing here, the pole-winner said.
To be able to unload and be pretty close
without testing was pretty impressive.
We tested at
a road course in Virginia where a lot of guys have
tested, Gordon said of Virginia International
Raceway near Danville, "and we figured we had
improved a lot of things on the car. I know I say a
lot about our team, but to come in here and not
test, go off a map of the race track and what we
think it might be to set our gear ratios --
its pretty awesome we did not have to change
a gear all day. "
Rusty Wallace, Tony
Stewart, Bobby Labonte, and Ward Burton rounded out
the top five.
Jeff Gordon will be
going for his fourth win in a row at the road
course on Sunday.
entered this weekend as the heavy favorite to win.
Why? Because he had won 6 of the last 7 road course
races, including three in a row at Sears Point.
However, they don't give out the trophy before the
Gordon's car looked
strong in the early going, jumping out at the green
flag to lead all the laps until the first round of
pit stops. Those pit stops were made around lap
forty, during the first full course caution. Gordon
had the fastest pit stop, but Ron Fellows had made
his stop just before the caution so he had the
lead. Gordon followed in second, until Robbie
Gordon, hired to drive the #7 Nations Rent car,
outbraked him going into the turn.
Soon, the team
turned to fuel strategy and decided that Gordon
would stay on the agenda of making only two stops
for fuel and tires to get to the end of the race.
So when several of the front-runners, Fellows and
R. Gordon included, pitted, Jeff Gordon stayed out
on the track until lap 73.
He maintained the
lead until he pitted on lap 73, and in so doing led
the most laps. Robbie Gordon pitted a little later
on lap 78, and was charging hard to catch Jeff
Gordon when the caution flag waved. When the race
returned to green, Jeff was holding off Robbie
Gordon as best as he could, but slipped up when he
locked the rear brakes going into turn 11. Robbie
Gordon got by, and soon Tony Stewart was able to
sneak by too. Jeff's car was just too tight
everywhere, and he couldn't get it to
eventually passed Robbie Gordon for the win. Jeff
finished third. Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace
rounded out the top five.
Gordon's day wasn't as bad as Dale Jarrett's.
Jarrett, the man in second place in the points
standings, finished 26th after struggling all day
and topping it off with a late-race accident. Jeff
Gordon was able to extend his lead in the Winston
Cup points standings by 90 points to lead Jarrett
by 126 points.
Winston Cup racing
takes the weekend off next week, but the big boys
will return to Daytona Intl. to race under the
lights on July 7th.