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nascartop50

Pennzoil Freedom 400 - Homestead-Miami Speedway

One year ago:
Jeff finished sixth in the Winston Cup race after winning the Busch Series race in the same weekend.
Link

-Race

Jeff 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 5.

Then the 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 injury.

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 driver.

While Jeff 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.

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