Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon. Photo by Lynne Huntting
JEFF GORDON/No.24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 7th Annual Subway Fresh Fit 500 race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. It was the first win in 66 races for the thirty-nine year old veteran, who has been racing for 20 years in the Cup series.

The exuberant Gordon was almost hard-pressed for words, so excited was he for his victory. “Can you believe it! It’s just so amazing. To see those race fans standing for my win. We beat KYLE BUSCH. We all want to beat Kyle Busch. And to see that crowd stick around for my lame burnout. I stink at burnouts.”

Gordon picked up the bonus point for leading the most laps in the 312-lap race. His Margin of Victory was 1.14 seconds.

Gordon said he’s been tweeting more later and was thankful for all the support he’s been getting from the fans. The winning Crew Chief was ALAN GUSTAFSON, the fifth crew chief Gordon has had.License Plate

Runner up KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Combos Toyota said the first person he was going to apologize to was Pole Sitter CARL EDWARDS/No. Subway, for making a mistake early on in the race, getting into Edwards “especially after the way we raced yesterday” ( in the NNS race in which Edwards finished second to Busch.) Later, Busch made a snide, off-the cuff aside about ‘the old man’. “He hasn’t won in awhile, so I’ll give him that.”

Reminds me of an old saying concerning age beating out youth and good looks.

Third through fifth were all from the bow tie brigade – JIMMY JOHNSON/No.49 Lowes/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, KEVIN HARVICK/No.29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, and RYAN NEWMAN/No.39 Tornados Chevrolet.

After all the car-nage, only 14 cars were running on the lead lap. There were eight cautions for 43 laps, and a red flag for ‘the big one’ which involved 13 cars. Among the wounded were Edwards, who came back on track with a black hood, and DAVID RAGAN/No.6 UPS Ford who came out with no hood. 

The stalwart crews went to work and of all the wrecked cars, only four DNF’d for that reason. Edwards finished twenty-eighth, with 252 laps, still running.

One of those was the youthful Daytona 500 winner, TREVOR BAYNE/No.21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford. This wasn’t his weekend. He hit the wall hard in his first practice, putting him into his backup car. Bayne qualified thirty-third and finished fortieth. The Wood Brothers crew will be busy beavers getting a car ready for the kid next week at Las Vegas. The underfunded team ‘lost’ its Daytona 500 winning car for a year to Daytona for display, and have two wrecked cars from this weekend.

There were 28 lead changes among 12 drivers.

Unofficially, Kyle Busch leads the standings with 80 points, three ahead of his big brother, KURT BUSCH/No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. Third through fifth are TONY STEWART/No.14 Office Depot/Mobile 1 Chevrolet, A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.43 Valvoline Ford and Gordon.

One long-time Gordon fan said it was her wearing her 24 socks that brought the win. If he didn’t win this race, she was going to toss the socks. Now she intends to wear them for every race.

PIR is taking a page out of the Daytona track book. Right after Sunday’s race the repaving project begins. The excavator was already on site, ready to start immediately. The one-mile track is fifty years old.

While the drivers may applaud the repaving, the planned track improvements, which include reconfiguring the circuit, aren’t universally embraced. Progressive banking and a change in the dog leg, especially the latter, are drawing comments. Many drivers like the track just as it is. One of the most outspoken was Edwards. Another was four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion RON HORNADAYNo.33 Sherwin Williams Chevrolet, who said “I really hate to see the ‘old’ Phoenix (track design and weathered pavement) leave. This is one of my favorite race tracks.”

The multi-million dollar renovation will be completed in time for the fall NASCAR weekend.