One year ago:
started and finished an uneventful
started 3rd in the Old Dominion 500, which was run
on Monday morning because of heavy rain on Sunday.
Early in the race, the Dupont Chevy was running
great and was in the top 3. On lap 55, Robert
Pressley crashed in turn two bringing out the first
caution of the day. All the cars came to pit road
and Gordon took two tires and came out in first. He
lined up third behind Matt Kenseth and Stacy
Compton who did not pit.
passed these two cars and jumped into the lead. On
lap 124, last years winner Tony Stewart had an
engine let go and that relegated him to a 41st
place finish. Jeff consistantly stayed in the top
ten all day long. Tires were a big issue and caused
much stradegy to be played out during every
pitstop. Many times, cars would not pit and would
put Gordon and the front runners back in traffic.
On lap 296, championship contender Ricky Rudd had
his championship hopes lessened when he lost his
engine. Rudd ended up finishing 39th and this was
just what Jeff Gordon needed.
During the closing
laps of this race, the action became hot and heavy
as tempers flarred between Kevin Harvick and Bobby
Hamilton, who were both up in the top 5. The
scuffles between the two resulted in a one lap
penalty for Harvick, who was none the less pleased.
They later expressed their comment, Hamiltons being
the most heated of the two.
The final laps came
down to a duel between Dale Jarrett on four fresh
tires and Ricky Craven on two. On the final lap,
Jarrett got a run on Craven but Craven went on to
win the race! An emotional Ricky Craven in victory
lane was just what the fans needed to see. "We're
thrilled, it's great to do it here in
Martinsville," said Craven choking back tears! This
was Craven's very first victory in 174 starts and
in his first season racing for Cal Wells.
finished 9th, a little frustrated but mostly
grateful. "We fought hard for this finish, it was
not what we were hoping for but we have to take
what we can get. To come out of a short track race
with a top ten, we'll take it," said Gordon. With
Gordon's top ten finish and Rudd's 39th place
finish, Jeff extended his lead to 334
Next week they head
to the Talladega Superspeedway, a race that could
perhaps play a big role in the championship