Jeff Gordon won the 65th Annual Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger today at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon has eight victories at Martinsville and this win ties him with fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most victories among active drivers. Both drivers trail Richard Petty, who has 15 victories at Martinsville and Darrell Waltrip, who has 11 victories at the track.
Gordon has 88 wins in 722 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, but his first victory for the 2013 season. Gordon broke his 32 race winless streak dating to last year’s season finale at Miami-Homestead. Making Gordon third on the all time list for the most wins with 88, Richard Petty is in first with 200 wins, and David Pearson is in second place with 105 victories.
“Awesome job, guys,” Gordon said over the radio to his team. “What a fight. Never give up!”
Gordon made the winning pass on Matt Kenseth with 21 laps to go and drove away from second place for the victory of 0.605 seconds over Kenseth, who battled with Clint Bowyer for the second spot during the final lap. Gordon now moves into third place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 27 points behind Kenseth and Johnson, who are now tied for first with only three races remaining for the season, the first position going to Kenseth for the most victories this season.
When asked how good it felt to be in victory lane, Jeff Gordon replied, “Man, It’s hard to top what it feels like to win and especially when you’ve been through all of what this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team has been through.”
“We’ve shown it all year long, and we’ve been through a lot,” Gordon continued.
The victory by Gordon with the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet clinched the manufacturers’ championship for Chevrolet. Chevrolet has now won for the 11th consecutive season and 37th time overall. The 2013 season was the debut of the SS Chevrolet race car.
Kenseth, who finished second, came in as the underdog to Johnson at Martinsville considering Kenseth had led a total of 169 out of more than 13,000 laps he had run there, having never won and only having three top-five and eight top-ten finishes in 27 career starts. Compare that to Johnson’s record of 8 career victories with 16 top-fives and 20 top-ten finishes in 23 career starts and having led a total of 2,327 laps at the track. Numbers and statistics meant nothing at the end as Kenseth was able to tie his career best with a second place finish, to close the gap of 4 points that Johnson had after Talladega.
Kenseth was disappointed with his second place after having led a career high of 202 laps.
“Whenever your team puts you in front for that last run and you’re out there leading, you get beat, you’re always a little bit disappointed,” said Kenseth. “I just got beat by honestly experience and a better driver of this track. I was hesitant to change my line…Just got too tight at the end.”
Johnson finished fifth said, “It’s been a great battle with the 20 car (driven by Kenseth) and the 24 team (fellow Hendrick teammate Gordon) has shown it wants to be a part of the championship battle as well. It’s going to be a fight to the end. It’s what I want to see and I know it’s what the fans want to see, too.”
Johnson finished saying, “We’ll keep digging hard.”
Next weekend, Sunday, November 3 the NASCAR Sprint teams will be at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 with coverage beginning at 3:00 eastern time on ESPN.