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Old Dominion 500 - Martinsville Speedway

One year ago:
Jeff Gordon started and finished an uneventful fifth.

Jeff Gordon 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.

Gordon quickly 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.

Jeff eventually 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 points.

Next week they head to the Talladega Superspeedway, a race that could perhaps play a big role in the championship race.

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