Jeff Gordon held off the field to secure his second win of the 2011 season last weekend at Pocono. Kurt Busch, who started on the pole for the second week in a row, finished second.
“It was so amazing because I was so excited about the hard work that Alan and his guys have been putting into our speedway program,” said Gordon. “I’m so excited to get that win. I’m so appreciative of the confidence that Alan has in me, the things that we talk about as a group, trying to get better, trying to improve our race cars, our program. Sometimes I know that can be frustrating because as I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’ve gotten smarter in some ways about driving the car, but also I’m a little bit more conservative.”
This was a historic win for Gordon. It was his 84th career Cup victory, which moved him into a tie for third with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on NASCAR’s all time Sprint Cup victory list. Richard Petty leads the list with 200 career wins and David Pearson is second with 105.
NASCAR’s new gear ratio rules played havoc on many competitors as they worked with shifting on Sunday. Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Marcos Ambrose experienced problems with third gear throughout the race. McMurray pulled into the garage at lap 106 to replace his transmission. He returned to the track 10 laps down and finished 33rd. Ambrose ended his day on lap 123, pulling into the garage after fighting a vibration in third gear for several laps. Montoya’s problems started when he lost third gear with 25 laps to go.
Kyle Busch finished the race third, but NASCAR announced his No. 18 Toyota failed postrace inspection after the car failed to meet the minimum front car heights of the 2011 rulebook. Crew chief Dave Rogers was fined $25,000 and Joe Gibbs and Kyle Busch have been penalized six owner and driver points.
Carl Edwards still maintains the points lead six points over Jimmie Johnson, despite losing an engine on lap 58 and spending the second half of the race in the television booth instead of in his race car.
Gordon likely secured his position in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The win gained him two positions to 11th in the standings, six points out of 10th place. But should Gordon fail to crack the top 10 after race No. 26, he is still in prime position to make the Chase as a wild card.
“There’s too many good guys to me, inside the top 20 in points that can win a couple of races. Hamlin, Biffle, several others,” said Gordon. “You can’t count on those others not winning. You’ve got to think that they can, and they will. It doesn’t change our focus. It doesn’t change our approach. We just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully we can do enough good things to make sure that we’re in there.”