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nascartop50

Dodge/Savemart 350 K - Sears Point Raceway.

One year ago:
Jeff Gordon won his sixth consecutive road course race. Sterling Marlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top three.
Link

-Qualifying

Jeff 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).

Gordon, the 18th driver to qualify, had nothing but praise for his team.

It was a great day for us, but I didn’t 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 -- it’s 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.

-Race
Jeff Gordon 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 race.

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 turn.

Tony Stewart eventually passed Robbie Gordon for the win. Jeff finished third. Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace rounded out the top five.

Fortunately, 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.

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