Gordon Stops Kenseth For 88th Cup Victory
Gordon took the lead from Matt Kenseth, who led the most laps in the Goody’s Headache Powder Relief 500, with 21 laps remaining and drove away to a .596-second victory for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season Sunday afternoon.
It was Gordon’s first victory of the season and the 88th of his career. Gordon’s eighth victory was at Martinsville was the 21st for Hendrick Motorsports at the .526-mile oval.
“There is nothing that tops what it is like to get to victory lane,” Gordon said. “We have been through a lot, but this is making it all worthwhile to be able to get a huge victory here at Martinsville. It was a great race car and I thought we gave it away a couple of times there.”
Kenseth led 200 of the 500 laps, but couldn’t hold off Gordon at the end.
“The tires really went away on us at the end,” Gordon explained. “I knew his tire was good on the short runs. And every time I saw him slip a wheel, I tried to conserve my tires and drive the car real straight into the corner and off the corner. I was playing with brake bias and everything else.
“I saw where he started struggling on the exit and I dove in there a couple a times and couldn’t make it. He drove in deep to protect his line and he did a heck of a job. Matt drove a really first-class caliber job today.”
By finishing second, Kenseth moved into a tie atop the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished fifth.
“I have nothing to complain about,” Kenseth said. “Jeff’s experience here got me today. I am just not that experienced running up front here. I had something that was working, but I was hurting the rear tires. It was a great race, though.”
“It has been a great battle with the 20 car and the 24 car is showing he wants to be part of this battle and it is going to be a battle to the end,” Johnson said.
Clint Bowyer finished third and Brad Keselowski claimed fourth.
Gordon jumped to third in the standings and trails the point leaders by 27 points with Kevin Harvick, who finished sixth, another point behind in fourth.
Gordon’s victory also clinched the manufacturer’s championship for Chevrolet.
There were 17 yellow flags for 111 laps and 19 lead changes among eight drivers.
The seventh through 10th-place finishers were Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray.