Gordon Ends Drought in the Desert

Jeff Gordon

The 83rd career win tied Gordon with Cale Yarborough on the all-time Sprint Cup Series victory list. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Jeff Gordon ended a 66 race winless streak with his 83rd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Gordon led a race high 138 laps but had to muscle his way around Kyle Busch in the closing laps to get the win his first with crew chief Alan Gustafson.

"I don't really care how we do it, we just want to get to victory lane,” said Gordon, who started 20th on Sunday. “But to do it that way and to see the fans reaction. I mean we beat Kyle Busch. We were the only one's to beat Kyle Busch this weekend and he's so tough to beat. What a race car. Just so thankful.”

Gordon caught Busch with eight laps to go and was able to make the pass for the lead but wasn’t quite sure how he was able to pull pit off.

“Gosh, you know, I’m going to have to go back and watch it on TV,” Gordon laughed. “I drove in deep into (Turn) 1 and got to him and I could tell he was having to really get after it right then; and then I got underneath him and got off of (Turn) 4 and I knew coming down the front straightaway that he was going to kind of pinch me down into (Turn) 1 and he did and I got a little loose. Then I just drifted up the track and I didn’t know what was going to happen at that moment but when they said we were ‘clear’ then I just went.”

The 83rd career win tied Gordon with Cale Yarborough on the all-time Sprint Cup Series victory list. He made the biggest jump in the standings moving up 21 spots to fifth.

Busch, who won the weekend’s Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races to start the weekend posted his eighth top10 finish in 13 races at PIR and his second top-10 finish in 2011.

“It was a rough beginning there for a while for a lot of guys and we were able to persevere and work through the it and work on our car and get most out of the day,” Busch said. “We came back strong and we had a really good car there on the long runs, and on the really long runs we were kind of running those guys down.

“But it seemed after the restarts, Jeff was just really, really good. We thought we could beat him after 20 or so laps but he had just so much forward bite today we just could not hang with him. I was sure pried by him having it none of the other Hendrick cars but congratulations to them, they are my old five bunch, so cool to see them get the win.”

Jimmie Johnson, who started 28th, finished third for his 14th top 10 finish in 16 races at PIR.

“We got the car right and I was trying to come through traffic and I was right in the middle of those two wrecks on the backstretch and luckily I got through there clean, but from that point on, after the red flag, we were able to then get going because the car was underneath me,” Johnson said. “We got it tightened up and off I went.

“So we had a good day. On the short run I think the 18 and the 24 had us beat. Longer we went, the more our car kind of tightened up and I seemed to be a little closer to these guys. But third was really where we ran all day and where we deserved to finish."

Kevin Harvick rebounded from a spin early in the race when Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch got together to finish fourth.

"We got ourselves a little bit behind and then got in a wreck and just had to fight through there at the end," Harvick said. "So it was a good day for everybody. Everybody did a great job keeping the fenders off the tires. I wish we could have had the car straight there at the end to race with those guys, but we’ll take a top five and get out of here.”

Ryan Newman, who won this event last year, rounded out the top five after leading seven laps.

"We didn’t have the greatest stops but we fought back and fought hard and came home with a top five finish," Newman said. "It was a good points day for us and we’ll go on. But good, consistent finishes for us and the next few races will really make a big difference for our season.”

Kasey Kahne equaled his best finish since joining Team Red Bull in sixth.

Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.

The race was punctuated by some early race cautions including one that ended up being a red flag for a 13-car melee on the backstretch on lap 68 that took drivers out of contention that included Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and Regan Smith.

"They were driving like it was the last lap!" said Bowyer. "Man, if we keep this up, we'll only have four cars to end all these races."

Pole-sitter Edwards was knocked out of contention in an accident prior to the big one after he and Kyle Busch made contact on lap 60, that saw Edwards’ Subway Ford slide through the grass before coming back on track and picking up more damage.

“Hopefully that was an inadvertent move on Kyle’s part. I’ll talk to him and we’ll deal with it accordingly,” said Edwards, who finished 28th.

The race featured a record 28 lead changes among 12 different drivers.

Kyle Busch took over the series point lead by three over his brother Kurt with Tony Stewart, AJ Allmendinger and Gordon rounding out the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for next Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400.

Related Topics:

Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Sprint Cup

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