JOLIET, Ill. — Story by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Matt Sullivan/Getty Images North America photo —
Jeff Gordon has been close on several occasions to winning a race during his swan song year in the Sprint Cup Series.
After leading 41 laps Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, the four-time Cup champ lined up second on the final restart with five laps to go . The No. 24 car didn’t get the best jump, allowing eventual race winner Denny Hamlin and a slew of other cars to pass the 2006 Chicagoland winner.
“We had old tires like that, it’s pretty easy to spin the tires, especially when you’re on the front row,” Gordon said. “So, just trying to hold pace a little with Kurt [Busch]. I knew I had Denny behind me on older tires as well, so I was somewhat encouraged by that. He got a good run on me, I blocked him, he’s pushing me down and we were on the apron and I know I felt like I did a good job, but I just came off the apron a little bit too early and he just motored right on by me on the inside. Once I got three-wide, we were done.”
Gordon slid back to 14th in the final rundown, but gained five spots in the race’s early run after starting in the 10th position. From there on, he remained in the top-three for much of the event and took the lead for the first time on a lap — restart when Gordon got the jump on race leader Kyle Busch. NASCAR reviewed the call and no action was taken against the No. 24 team for jumping the restart. This comes a week after the sanctioning body decided to pay closer attention to restarts.
His 41 laps led on the day are the most since leading 47 laps back in May at Talladega, a race where Gordon ran up front until a costly speeding penalty mired him back in the field.
“I thought the team brought an excellent race car,” Gordon said. “They worked extremely hard. Everybody in the engine shop, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been working together and I’m proud of that and it showed on the No. 24 car today.”
Gordon also ties Ricky Rudd’s Ironman streak of 788-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts, dating back to Nov. 1992 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“It’s a cool record,” Gordon said. “It would have been a whole lot sweeter if we were sitting in Victory Lane though.”
Unofficially, the No. 24 team sits 12th in points after the first race of the Contender round, three markers ahead of first-time Chaser Jamie McMurray.
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is Race Chaser Online’s Associate Editor and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 22-year-old currently studies print journalism at Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
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