StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11793342671458.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.nascar.com‘, ‘NASCAR Nextel Cup points leader Jeff Gordon (right) celebrates with teammates after driving his overheating No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to victory May 13 at Darlington.‘);
Last Sunday, May 13, Jeff Gordon managed to keep his cool in a car that wasnt keeping its cool.
The engine in Gordons DuPont Chevrolet was overheating during the last hour of the Dodge Avenger 500 at the Darlington Raceway. Gordon didnt think his Hendrick Motorsports engine would survive the final five laps of the race, but fortunately for Gordon, it did.
In a victory lane interview, Gordon gave credit to his engine builder by saying, These engines are not only built for horsepower, but also for durability. It proved to be the case Sunday. His car was billowing steam from the radiator during the late stages of the race. It looked as though the engine was going to overheat and put Gordon out of contention. Instead, the engine held up, and Gordon held on for the win. The hot driver in the hot car has now won three of the last four Nextel Cup races.
Gordons victory came at the expense of second-place finisher Denny Hamlin. His crew dropped a pair of lug nuts during a late-race pit stop. That bobble probably cost him his first victory of the season. He had led a race-high 179 laps prior to the unforced pit crew error.
Gordon continues to lead the season points race. He has a 231-point lead over last years champion and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Matt Kenseth is in third, 299 points behind Gordon. Hamlin is in fourth, and Jeff Burton is fifth.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
from the May 16-22, 2007, issue