NASCAR

Jeff Gordon wins Infineon for fourth time

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Sonoma, CA (Sports Network) - Jeff Gordon captured Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 Nextel Cup event at the 1.99-mile Infineon Raceway road course. The No.24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet crossed the finish line 1.032 seconds ahead of runner-up Jamie McMurray.

The victory was Gordon's third of the season, fourth at Infineon and 67th of his "Cup" career. "I was driving my heart out, I wanted to win so bad," said a tired Gordon. "What an awesome car and awesome effort by this Dupont race team." The action began almost immediately. Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace got into it early. As the two front-row starters crossed the start/finish line on lap one, they got together. The incident broke both drivers' momentum and Kurt Busch jumped to the lead. But his lead didn't last long as Gordon retook the top spot on lap two, diving underneath Busch as the drivers approached the turn 11 hairpin. Lap three saw another favorite, Tony Stewart have problems. Stewart and Ward Burton collided and though he continued he fell back to the 30th position. Next to find a barrier was Dale Earnhardt Jr. The No.8 Budweiser Chevrolet driver tried to shortcut over the turn four rumble strips and spun into the outside wall. Meanwhile, Gordon continued his mastery of the road course. The No.24 Chevrolet opened up a 3.138-second margin over open-wheel specialist Scott Pruett by lap 15. On the following lap, the defending Dodge/Save Mart 350 champion, Robby Gordon, lost his left-front wheel and slammed into a barrier while trying to get back to the pits. Jeff Gordon continued to lead every lap until he pitted for a normal tires and fuel stop on lap 35. As the cars cycled through their first pit stops, Pruett came out in front of Gordon. Gordon didn't wait long to make his move and one lap later passed Pruett in turn seven. At the mid-point of the 110-lap race, Jeff Gordon was on top of Pruett by 0.770 and had led 43 of 55 laps. After the final stops, Gordon found himself in third place behind Casey Mears and Kasey Kahne. NASCAR's all-time winner on road courses (eight wins) quickly passed Kahne and put the pressure on the second-year driver, Mears. Lap 74 was when Gordon made his move turning underneath Gordon in turn 10 and finishing the job by "outbraking" him at the hairpin turn. The No.24 Chevrolet once again began to pull away from the field and with 31 laps to go held a 2.131 second lead over Jamie McMurray, Mears, Wallace and Pruett. A Robbie Gordon caused caution on lap 81 closed the field, but once again Jeff Gordon would not be denied. The race restarted with 29 laps to go and within four laps the lead was 1.150 seconds. At lap 90 (20 to go) the lead had expanded to 2.184 seconds. The "Dupont Warrior" continued to post fast laps building his lead to over two and-a-half seconds before putting it in cruise mode to the checkered flag. Gordon led a race-record 92 laps. He has led 388 laps in 12 races at Infineon. Mark Martin ranks second all-time with 161 laps led. Pruett, Michael Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson completed the top-five. Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th and Matt Kenseth finished 20th. "I had such a good car, screwed up and hit the wall," said a dejected Earnhardt Jr. "Then I got spun out by P.J. (Jones), but it was fun." Johnson's fifth-place finish helped him expand his lead to 27 points over Earnhardt Jr. (2,375-2,348). Kenseth (2,143) remains in third followed by Gordon (2,123) and Stewart (2,068). The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule, the Pepsi 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, is scheduled for Saturday night, July 3rd.

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