Wet and 'Wild Card' Win for Gordon

Jeff Gordon

Gordon celebrates his 86th career win. (Photo: Getty Images)

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LONG POND, Pa. - Jeff Gordon moved into Wild Card contention after he scored the win in Sunday's rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Gordon, who started 27th, got an assist from Mother Nature and contact between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth on the race's final restart to take his 86th career win when the heavy rain came down.

“Well, it’s never over until it’s over," Gordon said. "I’ve won races like this here before. I tell you what; the way our year has gone we’ll definitely take it like this.

“Man, I’ve never seen the seas part quite like that before like they did going down into (Turn) 1. I got a great restart and was able to dive to the inside in front of Kasey (Kahne) and I saw the No. 48 (Johnson) get sideways and it just took them all out. And I was like, wow."

Once NASCAR declared the race official Gordon celebrated literally in near monsoon conditions on pit road before finally finding cover.

“Today was an amazing victory experience, probably one of the best in my career because with the rain, the lightning, wind blowing sideways, everything going on, you know, I was just so excited to be able to have my family here,” he said. “It's the first time I've had all of them here for a victory. I didn't care if it was under the shed or in the garage. I didn't care where it was.”

Gordon’s one win puts him in the thick of the Wild Card race with only five races remaining in the regular season.

The final fireworks punctuated a wild afternoon that saw the race delayed by rain and started about two hours later than planned. Once the green flag flew it was a race against the weather again as the skies grew darker as the afternoon wore on.

Kurt Busch crashed on lap 86 just past the race’s halfway mark to make it official and after a clean up, things were ready to go back under green at lap 91.

Johnson and Kenseth had a drag race for the top spot down the straightaway and into turn one before the 48 car got loose and triggered what turned out to be the deciding factor of the race.

Kenseth spun after contact from Johnson and was then drilled by Denny Hamlin in the hard crash.

Hamlin was taken to the infield care center and finally released after treatment. Kenseth and Johnson were just left disappointed at the turn of events.

“When I was cooling my tires down through the tunnel coming to the green I noticed that something didn’t feel right,’ Johnson said explaining what went wrong. “I kept trying to clean the tires off and it got a little better so I just assumed I had trash on my tires, but when I got down into turn one I realized that I had a right-rear (tire) flat.

“Unfortunate that we lost the lead there and we got a couple of cars in the process. I shouldn’t feel bad about that but not much you can do with a right-rear flat.”

Kenseth said he understood the race was on the line at the time of the incident.

“I am not mad at him,” Kenseth said. “It is just that you race for the win, and I thought I gave enough room down there. He drove in hard because he is racing for the win, too. We are in a situation where we need to win some races, too.

“You don’t mind if something happens. It is just a bummer when it takes you out after you are running top three all day and finish 22nd or wherever we are. That is very disappointing, and it is hard to look at the bright spot in that. That is just part of it, though.”

Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart rounded out the first five finishers.

Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith and Marcos Ambrose completed the top 10.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered the event with the points lead, but fell out of the race with a broken transmission on lap 50. He finished 32nd, but held onto the points lead because of Kenseth’s crash. Junior has a six-point advantage now with Biffle six out and Johnson eight behind.

The thunderstorm that erupted to end the race generated resulted a lightning strike in the parking lot behind the speedway’s main grandstand.

There were reports that several people were treated after the strike with one fatality while others were transported to an area hospital. (More)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now travels to Watkins Glen International for next Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.

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