The Hot Pass: Gordon finds winning feeling again
After 47 races without a win and 17 attempts at a victory at Texas Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon savored every moment of Sunday's postrace celebration.
"I've got me a win in Texas, I love you," Gordon radioed to his crew. He coasted through his victory lap, performing a burnout for the bleachers on the backstretch before continuing the party in Victory Lane.
"How ironic is it that we go on this streak and end it here at Texas?"
How ironic indeed. Texas Motor Speedway has bit the four-time champ more times than he'd like to remember. In the Samsung 500 last year, the sleep-deprived new father spun off of Turn 4 on Lap 109 and finished 43rd. Gordon's only other last-place Cup finish also came in this race at Texas in 1999 when the No. 24 car's tire blew on Lap 70 in Turn 4 — experiencing a vicious hit that haunted him for years.
But Sunday's run was nearly flawless. Gordon started from the front row and took the lead on the first lap. He led six times throughout the race for a total of 105 laps. However, it was his ability to regain the lead out of the pits for the sixth and final time on Lap 307 that enabled Gordon to end the drought and score his 82nd career victory. He currently trails fifth-place Cale Yarborough on the all-time win list by just one victory.
"It feels like the first time that we won," Gordon said. "This is the best place we could have won because it eluded us for so long."
Gordon agreed that exiting the pits first and the ability to secure clean air at the point was the key to the win, but what impressed him most were the adjustments the team made on the second pit stop on Lap 100.
"When we came out seventh and rolled to second ... From that point on we were a contender for the win today," Gordon said.