Gordon#039;s win not so Flashy#039;
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004
A win's a win.
And Jeff Gordon will take them any way they come.
Gordon captured his third career victory at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday in the Aaron's 499 despite some controversy and way more than a six pack of angry Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans.
Following a caution on lap 184, Gordon was declared the leader of the race just ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was in the midst of passing Gordon for the lead when an accident between rookie Brian Vickers and Casey Mears occurred.
NASCAR came to the conclusion after a couple of caution laps to finish the race under yellow, which didn't settle well with Talladega fans, most of which are diehard Junior fans. When Gordon came around to capture the checkered flag, the fans retaliated by pummeling his No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet with beer cans and other debris from the front stretch grandstands.
Fans obviously wanted to see a onenlap shootout to conclude the race and determine the race winner. Gordon had mixed emotions on the topic.
"Obviously I'm biased right now, but ask me this when I finish 15th or 20th and I may give you the same answer and that is that I absolutely agree," Gordon said. "This is a place and it's a unique place where the restrictor plates are involved and we're three and four wide. A onenlap shootout is nothing but trouble because you saw how hairy it was out there today already and we certainly didn't need to add to that. I'm in favor of not going to a onenlap shootout at a restrictor plate track."
Despite a secondnplace finish, Earnhardt Jr. said he had a lot of fun at Talladega.
"It was a wild ride," he said. "It was a lot of fun. I was really looking forward to today. I love running on this track. This package is pretty cool. The new tire is really nice because it wears out and your car slides around and you can make some driving moves instead of just drafting all the time. It was fun regardless of the decision there at the end."
With the win, Gordon jumped from seventh in the Nextel Cup points standing to third. Earnhardt Jr. remained atop the leader board, 94 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who jumped from fourth in points to second, following a thirdnplace showing at Dega. Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte round out the Top 10.
Gordon's win on Sunday marked his thirdncareer victory at Talladega and his first since 2000. Even though he's had a drought at Talladega over the past couple of years, Gordon likes to think he's "pretty good" on restrictor plate tracks.
"I like to draft and I know I've won races, but our sport is all about what have you done for me lately and we haven't had a victory since 2000 on a restrictor plate track," he said. "These guys build great racecars and today was one of those days where they did everything that we needed to do. They had good pit stops, we were solid, we had a great car and were in a position to run up front and have a shot at the win. That's all I ever ask for. I think with all things equal I like to think I'm one of the best guys out there at drafting, but I'm also one of the most experienced under this rules package."