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Jeff Gordon snookers field at Talladega

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NASCAR Nextel Cup
October 7, 2007

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Jeff Gordon
GM

TALLADEGA, AL -- Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson laid back for two-third's of the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, then stormed to the front with just seven laps remaining to finish one-two in a wild scramble to the checkered flag.

Gordon, a four-time champion, and Johnson, NASCAR's defending champion, saved their best for last as both drivers hooked together and literally charged to the front of the free-wheeling pack at the end.

It was a typical every-man-for-himself Talladega finish as 200 mile an hour cars fanned out four abreast for the final run.

Tony Stewart, who did everything he could to win, was cut off in the scramble to the line after leading most of the final laps. He wound up eighth.

Trailing Gordon and Johnson were Dave Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Stewart, Tony Raines and Reed Sorensen.

The day's biggest accident, which happened on lap 145, knocked several frontrunners out of contention. Something broke on Bobby Labonte's car and he slid suddenly up the track and into the wall in front of the field. The ensuing wreck involved Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers and David Ragan.

Several other accidents or mechanical problems took out drivers who might have been a factor in the "last man standing" finish, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., his teammate Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip and Elliott Sadler.

Engine problems accounted for the DEI team woes. Waltrip and Sadler wrecked. It was not a good day for many of the contenders in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Besides Busch, Kenseth and Truex, Jeff Burton fell out with engine problems and Kevin Harvick had to nurse a sick engine to the 20th finishing position.


3-wide pack racing
CIA Stock Photo

This white-knuckle race, traditionally one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, had a little added spice in its ingredients this time around.

The first seven qualifiers had to get in the race on speed and were set up for qualifying runs, not race runs. As a result, there was added nervous anticipation to what would happen at the start under those conditions.

Polesitter Waltrip, Labonte, Robby Gordon, Blaney and Vickers set the tone for the 188-lap event by swapping the lead every lap for the first six trips around the massive, 2.66-mile tri-oval.

By the 15th lap, two of the sport's most fearless drivers, Hamlin and Kyle Busch, were running one-two. Hard-luck hit Kenseth who had to pit with a tire problem.  The afternoon's first caution waved at 17 laps when John Andretti blew a tire and smacked the wall.

On the restart at 22 laps, Hamlin led with Kasey Kahne in tow. Sadler and Kevin Harvick lined up in the low groove and two lines of cars stretched 10 deep. At times, there were three lanes of fast cars, zipping around this incredible speedway like daredevils of the midway.

Crowd favorite Earnhardt roared to the front for the first time on the 32nd lap. The crowd of more than 150,000 fans remained on its feet 50 laps into the race as NASCAR's best drivers jockeyed for position.

Green flag pit stops started on lap 56 when Kenseth, Harvick and Blaney pitted. Both Blaney and Kenseth were penalized for speeding while exiting pit road. Earnhardt and the leaders came in on lap 60. The second caution of the afternoon fell at lap 63 when David Gilliland and Greg Biffle collided off turn four.

A quickie yellow allowed cleanup crews to clear the track and most of the frontrunners stayed on the track. On the restart at 66 laps, it was Hamlin up front with Stewart, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, and Raines right behind him.

Joe Nemechek's day ended on the 85th lap when engine troubles sent him to the garage.


Jeff Gordon
CIA Stock Photo

At 88 laps, Waltrip went to the front. A lap later, his teammate David Reutimann, a rookie, took the lead with drivers in pursuit going three and four wide, typical, flat-out, no-holds-barred Talladega racing.

Burton's day ended with engine failure on lap 92 and the caution flag slowed things down, giving the field a breather.

Some of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contenders were content to hang back in the first half of the race, including Johnson, Gordon, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Kenseth.

At the halfway point after the restart, the top 10 included leader Waltrip, Kahne, Earnhardt, Vickers, Sadler, Sorensen, Truex Jr., Jeff Green, Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

A few laps later, Stewart took the lead. The position-swapping was happening so fast, you couldn't keep up with it.

With his 80th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career win, Jeff Gordon takes over the championship points lead, nine points ahead of Johnson. Johnson slips to second with Bowyer 63 points behind Gordon in third. In fourth, Stewart is 154 points out of the lead while fifth-place Harvick trails Gordon by 202 points.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 34 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Pepsi / DuPont 190/5 188 Running
2 19 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 175/5 188 Running
3 2 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 170/5 188 Running
4 18 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Ground 165/5 188 Running
5 16 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 160/5 188 Running
6 29 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 155/5 188 Running
7 41 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 151/5 188 Running
8 11 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 147/5 188 Running
9 14 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 143/5 188 Running
10 28 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 139/5 188 Running
11 23 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 135/5 188 Running
12 39 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Radioactive Energy Drink 132/5 188 Running
13 32 66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Garmin / Best Buy 129/5 188 Running
14 31 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 126/5 188 Running
15 22 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Texaco / Havoline 123/5 188 Running
16 9 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 120/5 188 Running
17 33 40 David Stremme Dodge Coors Light 117/5 188 Running
18 17 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 114/5 188 Running
19 15 88 Mike Wallace Ford M&M's Halloween 111/5 188 Running
20 37 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 108/5 188 Running
21 6 127 Jacques Villeneuve Toyota UNICEF 105/5 188 Running
22 5 00 David Reutimann * Toyota Burger King 102/5 179 Off Track
23 20 16 Greg Biffle Ford Starz / Dish Network 99/5 176 Off Track
24 10 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 96/5 175 Off Track
25 1 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 93/5 175 Off Track
26 25 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 90/5 171 Running
27 27 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's Halloween 87/5 167 Running
28 12 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 84/5 161 Out of Race
29 24 7 Robby Gordon Ford Camping World/ RVs.com 81/5 161 Off Track
30 38 01 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 78/5 156 Out of Race
31 40 21 Ken Schrader Ford Motorcraft 75/5 152 Out of Race
32 4 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 72/5 149 Running
33 7 49 John Andretti Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 69/5 149 Running
34 42 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA Travel 66/5 146 Off Track
35 8 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Pillsbury Food Service / Cheerios 63/5 144 Out of Race
36 36 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 60/5 144 Out of Race
37 35 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Vise-Grip GrooveLocks 57/5 144 Out of Race
38 30 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 54/5 144 Out of Race
39 3 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 51/5 144 Out of Race
40 26 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 48/5 136 Out of Race
41 43 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 45/5 136 Out of Race
42 13 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 42/5 113 Out of Race
43 21 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 39/5 91 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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