One year ago:
sixth in the Winston Cup race after winning the
Busch Series race in the same
Gordon started 11th in the Freedon 400 on
Sunday. It was an all dodge front row with
Ray Evernhams dodges starting first and
second with Bill Elliott on the pole. The
opening laps were good for Jeff as he got
setteled into his car for the race. The
car was a bit loose at the beginning but
Jeff was solidly in the top ten and top 5.
The first pit stop was on lap 62 under
green and Jeff and the team had a good
stop and got Jeff out in the top
race turned ugly. On lap 111 the cars
pitted under a caution for debreis and
Ward Burton and Casey Atwood made contact
sending Burtons car right into Ricky Rudds
pit crew. Three guys were hit by the car
and two were taken to the hospital. Bobby
Burrell, the front tire changer is listed
in serious condition with a head injury
but is awake and alert! The jackman John
Bryan has a concussion and a knee
Jeff came out of
the pits unscathed but that would not be the last
pit road incident. Jeff and the team had been
pretty pleased with the car up to this point and
made minor adjustments to the dupont chevy. Just as
Gordon's car was getting stronger and stronger on
the long runs, the caution came out on lap 147 for
debreis again and Jeff got hit by Jeff Green on pit
road on the left front finder. This brought back
memories of the Coca Cola 600 in May when Gordon
got hit on pit road. Gordon pitted again and the
team tried to fix the fender as best they could.
Jeff restarted in
27th place but was hoping the car would be ok. Then
things got worse, Jeff's car was getting looser and
looser so he pitted under green on lap 210 and a
caution came out when Stacy Compton spun in turn
one. Jeff was now one lap down with a loose race
car. Not what you would expect from this team and
struggled home to a 28th place finish, the dodges
of Bill Elliot and Casey Atwood, and Tony Stewart
in a pontiac were strong, dominating the race.
Stewart led the most laps but shot himself in the
foot when he decided to pit on lap 249 when Kurt
Busch spun. Tony cut through the grass onto the pit
road, breaking the Nascar rules once again. Tony
was penalized and finished a disappointing 19th.
This set the finish up to be decieded between
Elliott and Atwood. Elliott squeezed by Atwood in
the closing laps to win the race!
This was Elliotts
first victory in seven years and was car owner Ray
Evernhams first victory since leaving Jeff Gordon
in 1999. "Pinch me," Elliott said in victory lane.
"We struggled kind of off and on all day. We
decided to put two tires on and my car came alive.
I finally got Casey loose enough down there in Turn
4 to get on by."
Jeff finished 28th
a lap down, but can clinch the title next week at
Atlanta with a 32nd place finish! "We had a great
car and were marching our way to the front," Gordon
said. "I got into (Jeff Green) on pit road and bent
the left front fender up a little bit. Just like at
Charlotte earlier in May it just ruined our day. It
put us in the back, we fixed the fender, and the
car just never was the same. It's a shame because
we really had something for them especially on the
long runs. This race turned out pretty crazy. Tony
Stewart was dominating one part of the race and I
really thought it was his to lose. And then the
Dodges got their act back together. They stayed up
front all day and they had good track position. I
really want to congratulate Ray Evernham, Bill
Elliott, and that whole team. I think the world of
Ray and it's great to see him get to victory lane."
Jeff is 305 points
ahead and mathmatically can clinch by starting both
races at Atlanta and New Hampshire.