(WOMR file photo)
Jeff Gordon, who gained entry into the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship by way of a NASCAR ruling, won the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday and in doing so moved into contention for a fifth career championship.
Gordon, whose Martinsville victory was his first of the season, will head to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the third-to-last race of the Chase, third in points – 27 behind the leaders.
“It’s hard to top what it feels like to win,” Gordon said in victory lane.
Matt Kenseth finished second Sunday, and moved into a tie with Jimmie Johnson for the points lead.
Johnson finished fifth.
“It’s been a great battle with the 20 car (driven by Kenseth) and the 24 team (of Gordon) has shown it wants to be a part of the championship battle as well,” said Johnson, who owned a four-point advantage heading into Sunday’s race. “It’s going to be a fight to the end. It’s what I want to see and I know it’s what the fans want to see, too. We’ll keep digging hard.”
Clint Bowyer finished third while defending champion Brad Keselowski was fourth.
Gordon was inserted into the Chase this year as a 13th car after NASCAR decided that extraordinary circumstances in the final non-playoff race at Richmond warranted such an action. Those circumstances involved in-race moves by Michael Waltrip Racing drivers which NASCAR considered attempt to manipulate the Chase field.
And now he appears to still have a chance at winning his first championship since 2001.
“I think anyone within a race (or 43 points of the lead) is still in it,” Kenseth said.
On Sunday at Martinsville, Gordon led 78 laps, including the final 21, in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The victory was his eighth at the shortest track on the schedule and 88th in his Cup career.
With just three races left to go before crowning the 2013 Sprint Cup champion at Homestead, it is primarily a two horse race between Kenseth and Johnson. However, if either of these two dominant drivers befriends catastrophes, then Jeff Gordon could slip past both, and be new Sprint Cup champ. Having said all that, it is very unlikely that Gordon could bust that kind of a move on Johnson and Kenseth!
Nevertheless, I am very anxious to get to my seats in the Allison Tower for the Phoenix race in two weeks. As it has been in the past few years, Phoenix has proven to be a very exciting race!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!