By admin | October 27, 2012
By Richard Allen
In the late stages of the Sprint Cup race held at the Martinsville Speedway back on April 1st of this year, it looked as if all the stars had aligned themselves in just the right way for Jeff Gordon to earn the coveted 200th victory for Hendrick Motorsports. However, just a quickly as things had fallen into place, the universe’s order came unraveled and caused those stars to fall on the four time NASCAR champion.
After a door banging battle with teammate Jimmie Johnson, Gordon took the lead as the cars came to the line to receive the signal of three laps remaining. However, the caution flag waved at that very moment when the car driven by David Reutimann came to a stop on the front stretch of the half-mile track.
During the late caution period, which came out at a time when many teams were cutting it very close on fuel mileage, the two HMS cars stayed on track while virtually everyone else rolled onto pit road for fresh tires and gas.
On the ensuing green/white/checkered restart, Clint Bowyer made a bold dive into turn one which put himself, Gordon and Johnson three wide on a track not really meant for that kind of racing. The predictable result was a multi-car spin that eliminated all three top runners from contention to win. Ryan Newman eventually went on to claim the victory.
Gordon had led 328 laps but ran out of fuel during that last caution and eventually ended up with a 14th place finish.
“Clint and I are friends, I have a lot of respect for him,” Gordon said after the race. “He’s a great race car driver and I’m glad I talked to him before I talked to you guys(TV reporter Krista Voda) because I was pretty mad at him but he said he got hit from behind from the 39(Newman).
“I didn’t get the best restart but when he first showed his nose down there I thought ‘OK, we’ll make it work’ but he came through there with so much speed there was no way,” Gordon explained further. “I had no where to go, Jimmie had no where to go. It was unfortunate. I didn’t want to see that last caution because we had such a great battle with the 48.”
Gordon ended his comments by saying, “If we keep bringing cars like that(to the track), we’ll be fine.” Indeed, if the #24 team has a car as strong this time as he had last time at Martinsville, he will be a strong contender for his 87th career Sprint Cup win and redemption on a track that would seem to owe him one.
Gordon will start from the 11th spot in Sunday’s race.
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