Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gordon in Gear Coke Could Signify Turnaround

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gordon in Gear Coke Could Signify Turnaround

Article excerpt

CONCORD, N.C. -- He ran out of gas in a race he had won. He

missed a practice because he slept late, and a teammate wrecked

his car. He was seemingly beaten when the big money was on the

table Sunday night.

Somehow, Jeff Gordon ended his 10 days at Charlotte Motor

Speedway with another Coca-Cola 600 victory, the Winston Cup

points lead and an even bigger legend.

Gordon's latest accomplishment is one they'll be talking about

for years around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"I can't believe he did it," said Rusty Wallace, who finished

second after Gordon passed him for the lead with 10 laps

remaining. "I really thought we had it. Boy, I tell you what,

he's good, but I thought we had it."

Wallace was racing for an extra $1 million, as were Bobby

Labonte, Jeremy Mayfield, Dale Earnhardt and Ken Schrader. Those

drivers were eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 bonus because

they finished in the top five in the Daytona 500, the first of

the year's five major races. The 600 was the second.

Late in the 39th 600, it appeared that the race would be won by

either Wallace, Labonte, Mark Martin or Dale Jarrett. Gordon had

shown some strength at various times, but he didn't have quite

the car those four did. But the complexion of the event changed

with a late caution flag and a round of pit stops.

After Gary Bradberry crashed on the 378th of 400 laps, the

leaders all pulled down pit road for tires. Wallace, Labonte,

Martin and Jarrett each took on two tires. Gordon, running

fifth, took on four.

The fresh rubber turned Gordon's Monte Carlo into a rocket.

Sixth on the restart, Gordon pulled away in the No. 24 Hendrick

Motorsports Chevy to post his third Coca-Cola victory in only

six starts.

The win was worth $345,450, which included a $110,000 bonus for

winning the race and leading the points.

"It's pretty tough when you're battling a couple of guys going

for a million bucks," Gordon said in a news conference that

pushed into yesterday morning. …

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