After the season he has had so far this year, Jeff Gordon will take a win anyway he can get it. Having everything that could possibly go wrong already happen to him so far this season, a little bit of good luck was bound to finally blow his way. And blow it did, as a major weather system blew in dumping torrential rain in Pocono, effectively ending the Pennsylvania 400 62 laps short of a full race, only 18 laps past the halfway mark, making it a complete race in the books. Not only was this a win for Gordon on the track, the points race looks a whole lot better from his perspective with this win. Moving into 13th in points + the win puts him in place for the wild card spot to get into the chase for the 2012 Sprint Cup, a spot he knew he needed a win to get to.
“It’s nice to know that things can still go our way,” Gordon said. “The way our year has gone, we’ll definitely take it like this. I tell you what, with all the things that have gone wrong for us this year, I’m hoping that this is the one that makes up for it all.”
Gordon took the lead when his teammate Jimmie Johnson got loose on the final restart of the race, sliding up the track into Matt Kenseth causing them both to slide back on the track and taking out Denny Hamlin’s #11 car as well.
“I’ve never seen the seas part like that,” said Gordon. “I got a good restart, so I really got up to fifth as we were getting into the braking zone going into 1. I don’t know what happened to the 48. I just saw he got loose, and when he got loose, it took everybody that was in front of us up the race track or into the wall.
“I just made it right to the bottom, stood in the gas and drove out … and we were leading.”
Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne also got the benefit of the wreck moving up into the 2nd spot on the track and as the caution came out they realized that his left rear tie was flat and would need changing should the race go back to green, which of course never happened.
And to make the rain soaked miracle even better, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had been knocked back to 32nd because of a blown transmission and was looking at a loss of 3 positions in the points, retained the top spot as Matt Kenseth slid backwards in the wreck with the 48. Greg Biffle was also moved backwards allowing Johnson to finish well enough to retain his 4th place standings in the points as well. All 4 Hendrick teams are now in contention to make the chase because of Jimmie Johnson’s accident. Funny how things work out like that.
“We had a good run going,” he said. “This Chevrolet was pretty fast. Jimmie [Johnson had] the quickest car out there. But we felt like we might be able to work on ours and get a little better.”
“We put it in [Saturday] and during qualifying it was fine,” said Earnhardt. “When we restarted [on Lap 23], it was kind of aggressive, and then [we experienced] a bit of a vibration. The car was just really out of time, and it just kind of started missing some shifts and [was] difficult to get in gear.
“Finally, in third and fourth [gear] coming out of the tunnel, it didn’t have any fourth. Then I didn’t have third.”
After Jr. lost his transmission, Kahne started feeling vibrations in his gear box as well. At first he was worried, but his fears were laid to rest when his crew chief talked with Letarte and they advised Kahne it was not the same issue.
“I don’t think I really had much of a problem,” Kahne said. ” I think I was worried because Junior broke one or broke something with the transmission, I’m not sure what. I was struggling with mine a little bit when that happened … so I just quit shifting for a while, and I was a lot slower.
“[Earnhardt's crew chief] Steve Letarte said it wasn’t a big deal. What happened with them was not what I feel was going on with mine. So from that point on, I focused on shifting again and didn’t even have an issue. Once I quit worrying about it, we were flying.”
So it appears that Mother Nature is indeed a fan of racing, and her team of choice is none other than Hendrick Motorsports. Why else would all of the bad luck the Gordon has experienced all season be wiped out by a single rainstorm just when the timing was perfect?