Jeff Gordon reached another summit in his Winston Cup education Sunday in Bristol, Tenn., by overpowering the field to win the Food City 500 for his first short-track victory.
Gordon led four times for 205 laps at Bristol International Raceway, including the final 99, on the way to his fifth career victory and his third in five races.
Sixty-eight races into his journey on stock car racing’s top circuit, the 23-year-old Gordon now has won on a superspeedway, an intermediate track and a short track. Only a road-course victory has eluded Gordon so far, and he’s run only four events on those type of tracks.
“This is awesome,” Gordon said. “We’ve never run well on short tracks before. Our only goal today was to come out with the car in one piece. We did that and a whole lot more.”
Gordon finished 5.74 seconds - nearly one-half lap - ahead of Rusty Wallace.
It gave Chevrolet’s new Monte Carlos their sixth victory in as many races this season.
Darrell Waltrip finished third, his second top-10 finish in the past four races. Bobby Hamilton, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett were the only other drivers on the lead lap.
Dale Earnhardt, who came in with a 67-point lead in his quest for a record eighth Winston Cup championship, wrecked early and wound up 25th, which trimmed his edge over Sterling Marlin to 17 points.
Pole-sitter Mark Martin led five times for 155 laps, but he was no match for Gordon in the end. Martin was running a distant second when he had to pit to replace his worn-out right-side tires with 10 laps left.
“I wore all the rubber off of them, all the cords off them and then the air came out,” said Martin, who finished eighth.
Slick 50 200
Emerson Fittipaldi’s late-race fuel stop helped 26-year-old Robby Gordon to his first IndyCar victory in the Slick 50 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Gordon had to make up a lost lap early in the race, but stayed with the leaders throughout the 200-lap event, finally taking the top spot on lap 195 when Fittipaldi had to pit for a splash of methanol.
“I’m stunned because I didn’t know I was in the lead,” said Gordon, whose first victory came in his 41st start. “A year ago we were leading the race and the same thing happened to me. It just shows what goes around comes around.”
Fittipaldi, the winner last year, showed his disappointment, saying, “It was a shame. The car was flying. I didn’t know we were going to have to stop for fuel late in the race, then I thought they’d have to stop, too.”
It was a tremendous race, with 12 lead changes among six drivers and battles for position all around the track.
Record-setting pole-winner Bryan Herta led the first 27 laps before Paul Tracy, the winner of the race two weeks earlier in Australia, zoomed past. Herta regained the top spot the next time around the 1-mile oval, but lost the lead for good on lap 32 when teammates Michael Andretti and Tracy moved past.
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