Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lugnut Report: Jeff Gordon Nearly Wins, but Finishes Third


When you come to Martinsville you think of two drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Gordon leads the field in active drivers with the most wins with seven. He has not won at Martinsville since 2005, but was looking to end that streak on the rain postponed event, Monday.

Gordon had a fast car all weekend long. They were going with a different setup than they had used at Martinsville in the past.

With rain affecting the qualifying on Friday, Gordon was to start 11th on Monday.

Gordon quickly made his way to the front. On lap 59, Gordon took the lead and pulled away from second place. His car was handling good but he cautioned the track conditions will be changing.

The team made some adjustments on the car but it hurt the handling of the car. The outside lane was not the lane to be in on the restarts. Repeatedly, Gordon was on the outside lane and ended up losing positions on the restarts.

They were getting it done on pit road for Gordon on every stop. Crew chief Steve LeTarte, was making solid adjustments on the car. That being said the team still struggled on the long runs, something that we see often at Martinsville.

Gordon was running fourth when Jeff Burton cut a tire with less than 20 laps to go. When leader Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch pitted, Gordon inherited the win with just ten laps to go.

Gordon was pulling away on the restart but a caution for Busch with the field just coming to take the white flag. They were going to a green, white checker finish.

On the restart Gordon had the lead but got hit from behind from Kenseth, sending him up the track. Kenseth and Gordon banged off each other meanwhile Hamlin took the lead with Joey Logano sliding behind him.

Gordon finished in third and Hamlin took the win. Gordon was upset with how Kenseth raced him on the restart.

Gordon and LeTarte both have said they are being aggressive this season, no more settling for top five finishes. I think early on this season we have saw that, both on the track and on pit road.

Gordon now heads to Phoenix, where he has only one win but expect to see the same strategy we saw this week.

With his top five finish at Martinsville he moved up to seventh in the standings.

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