Memorable Night for Gordon
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on May 12, 2013 | 1:55 P.M. EST
The seven-time Darlington race winner began his milestone start from the eight position and led 16 laps on his way to scoring the 300th top five finish of his storied career. (Photo: Getty Images)
The seven-time Darlington race winner began his milestone start from the eight position and led 16 laps on his way to scoring the 300th top five finish of his storied career.
Outside of scoring an eighth win, this year’s Darlington trip couldn’t have been better for Gordon.
“To have the seven wins here that I have, I couldn't think of a better place to come to and get the 700th start here,” said Gordon. “Then to go out there and have a strong performance, it felt great.
“I wanted the 700th to be a memorable one, and I'm glad it wasn't like last year's memory where we blew two left rear tires back to back. This was much better than that. Top three, that's fantastic. I mean, we needed this kind of performance, a gutsy performance, for the points as well as to make this one memorable.”
Gordon has been involved in his share of grueling races at the challenging 1.33-mile track over the years. That reputation continued on Saturday night when there was only one caution flag in the first 301 laps of the race.
Despite not having a mental or physical break over nearly the first two hours of the event, Gordon was comfortable behind the wheel.
“I think it depends on how the race is going,” he explained. “If you feel like you need to make up time on guys, you want a caution. If you're running up front, you don't want to see a caution.
“I don't know. I just kind of got into a rhythm. It felt good to me. I was enjoying it. I feel like green flag stops kind of separate the good pit crews and teams, and you can get yourself in a position, where as a competitor, you want to race against the least amount of guys as possible.”
The finish moved Gordon to 12th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings as he continues his drive to secure a spot in the Chase. With a break next weekend for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a solid run Saturday night was perfect timing.
“It was a great result for us,” said Gordon. “ Just a great battle by this team. We had a decent car before the sun really went down, the track cooled down, then we started battles between the balance from one end to the other, which is not uncommon here. Seems like you don't fight that as much during the day when the pace drops a lot more. At night, that's what you deal with. Pace picks up, the balance changes.
“The last run was the best the car had been. We got a good restart. Fortunate to come home with a third place finish. Very happy with it.”