Broken transmissions, blown engines, and Jeff Gordon avoided it all to take the checkered flag and his second win for the 2011 Sprint cup season and his 84th career win tying him for 3rd in all time wins in NASCAR history.Ã‚Â His name will now and forever be associated with the likes of Bobby Allison and Darrel Waltrip who he is now tied with for all time wins.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Today to see it all come together, to have a fast race car, great pit stops, calling the race right, good restarts, those types of things, I was so caught up in that, I was so excited, plus I have my family here to celebrate it with, I didn’t even think about 84 till they reminded me when I went to do the SPEED Channel Victory Lane Show,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Gordon. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, man, that’s unbelievable.’
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I really can’t even express in words what it means to tie Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison at 84 wins because I just never thought it would ever happen for me, or really when I got in this sport for anybody to win that many races is amazing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While other front runners had issues due to the transmission changes mandated by NASCAR which allowed drivers to be able to shift gears more to get their car to turn better as well as to gain more speed, Gordon held on until the very end of the race before taking the lead and leading for 39 laps.Ã‚Â Juan Montoya, Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin all had issues which cycled them to the back of the lead lap ad cycled Gordon to the front.
Carl Edwards had his first engine failure of the season which caused his worst finish of the season in 37th, but still barely out front in points.Ã‚Â Jimmie Johnson came in 40 points behind but when all the dust settled there’s only a 6 point gap between them, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. hanging in only 10 points behind Edwards.
Edwards’ engine didn’t make it, going out with no warning. It was a rare breakdown his Roush Fenway program took in stride. “It was a part failure,” crew chief Bob Osborne said. “You’ll have that sometimes in auto racing.”
“I was trying really hard to be easy on the engine and only shifting in 1 and 2, and I was short-shifting into fourth. I didn’t want to over rev it,” Edwards said. “That is racing, I guess. What good is the point lead if you don’t use it? We are using it today, and we are going to need every bit we can to get out of here with the lead today.”
“Our engines have been just flawless for awhile,” he said. “Every once in a while you are going to have a failure, and we have been running well enough that hopefully we can absorb the failure. If this is the worst thing that happens all year, then that is fine. We will keep going. Michigan is going to be great.”
Johnson looked good on the track but it just didn’t translate into a win.Ã‚Â Taking a 5th place finish however was good enough to make a huge gain in points as the points leader’s failure had everyone looking to take advantage as competitors will take any sign of weakness as motivation.
“When the points leader has problems, everybody’s just champing at the bit, licking their lips, going, ‘Wow, look at this, I’m right back in this,’ ” said Kurt Busch who finished one spot ahead of his brother Kyle and leaves him sixth in points. “When you’re having good runs like we are, my little brother, just plugging away, that helps you feel more solid when you get to the month of August after you get through the Brickyard, making that summer run to the Chase. Right now, it’s all about consistency. I’d like to break through and get a win just to help us feel more confident in our Chase position. When the points leader has trouble, everybody benefits from that.”
Kyle Busch may have avoided on track issues but NASCAR ruled his car had failed tech inspection after the race.Ã‚Â In a press release sent out by Joe Gibbs Racing today, Coach Joe Gibbs addressed the penalty.
“We brought the No. 18 car back to our race shop and have identified the problem which caused us to measure low during the post-race inspection process in Pocono [Sunday] afternoon. We have made NASCAR aware of our findings and we accept the penalty they have issued today.”
So now we head to Michigan and another 1.5 mile oval with the points race tightened up and returning to the track where Dale Earnhardt Jr got his last win in the Sprint Cup Series, and of course, the first race for Harvick and Kyle Busch to face each other with no probation hanging over their heads.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Will they “Have at it” in Michigan?Ã‚Â Will Jr return to the podium?Ã‚Â Next week the Garage Blog will be there live to capture it all, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the race and another image gallery for the garage.