(photo courtesy Getty Images)
Frustration continues to dog Jeff Gordon!
Once again the race was his to win, and like it has happened on several occasions already this season, he watched the victory slip away! Even though Kyle Busch led a race high 226 laps, it was Jeff Gordon who once again was in a position to win the race in the final 10 laps. However, it was not to be. It is getting to be like the movie “Ground Hog Day”, very repetitious.
Kyle Busch moved around Jeff Gordon on a restart with five laps to go to post his first victory since prevailing at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 22, 2009.
Gordon, who led 144 laps, finished second and was followed by Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards – who finally led his first lap of 2010 – in a race named in honor of retired Army Sgt. Heath Calhoun, who lost both legs in the service of his country.
Busch led a race-high 226 laps – most of them early in the race on the 0.75-mile RIR oval. The second half of the event clearly belonged to Gordon, the four-time Cup champion who was searching for his first victory of 2010. But a series of cautions during the closing stages proved pivotal, including the night’s sixth yellow for Sam Hornish Jr.’s wreck into the inside retaining wall down the backstretch.
Gordon chose the inside line for the restart, with Busch alongside. Busch reacted slightly quicker to the green than Gordon, and the two raced side-by side until Busch completed the pass just before the start/finish line. It marked the seventh time in the last eight races at Richmond International Raceway that the driver who led with 10 to go – in this case Gordon – did not drive into Victory Lane.
As to the restart, Busch said, “I don’t remember what happened. Where was I? Was I on the outside? I just drove it down into Turn 1 and hope it stuck. I drove it too far and got it pointed just in time and had a major drive up off the corner. I knew I needed to baby it into Turn 3 and try to get a good launch off Turn 4 as well. Finally got to clear Jeff and got down to the bottom. Set sail from there and those guys (Gordon and Harvick) got racing. Best thing when you get out front is to see the guys behind you racing.”
Gordon was asked if the difference on the final restart was lane choice or older tires.
“It was the 18 (Busch),” said Gordon, driver of the # 24 DuPont Chevrolet Impala . “He was so strong on restarts all night. I don’t know what happened to him that one run where he fell back. He was head and shoulders above everybody on restarts. We got a couple decent restarts there and Burton and Harvick got to racing one another. And it allowed us to get out there into some clean air.”
“On that last restart, I got a good one but Kyle got a good one as well. I was just too loose to really get going. Great, great effort again. We’re going to have to figure out how to win these ones on these late cautions. That’s not where we’re strong right now. We’re certainly getting plenty of practice at it,”Gordon said somewhat in despair.
Gordon had been involved in controversial incidents with reigning/four-time Cup champion – and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson – in the previous two races at Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. The two avoided each other Saturday night, although Johnson was involved in a wreck with Clint Bowyer of Richard Childress Racing shortly after crossing the start/finish line.
Even though Jeff Gordon is failing to “close the deal”, his team is there knocking on the door. The # 24 Dupont Chevy is currently sitting in 6th place in the Sprint Cup standings.
What do you think it is going to take for the #24 Dupont team to get their car to victory lane?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!