March 1, 2011
Gordon looking to hit jackpot again in Vegas
By Sports Network
After snapping a 66-race winless drought last Sunday at Phoenix, Jeff Gordon's thirst for victory continues this weekend when the Sprint Cup Series runs at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Gordon passed Kyle Busch for the lead with nine laps remaining and then held off Busch by just over one second at Phoenix for his first win since April 2009 at Texas. The victory was not only a relief for Gordon, but also his No.24 team, with new crew chief Alan Gustafson.
His 83rd career win placed him in a tie with Cale Yarborough for fifth on the series' all-time race winners list. He's now one victory away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third. Richard Petty holds the record for most wins in NASCAR's top division with 200, followed by David Pearson with 105.
"I hope we don't have to wait as long to tie Darrell and Bobby, as it took us to tie Cale," Gordon said. "I've already accomplished way more than I thought I ever would in NASCAR. It's not about where I rank on a list or who I might be compared to. It's about the desire to win, and that desire remains strong in me and in this team."
Gordon has won two or more straight races 18 times in his illustrious Cup career, but has not recorded consecutive victories since October 2007 (Talladega and Charlotte).
His first and most recent win at Las Vegas came in 2001, the year he claimed his fourth Cup championship.
Last year, Gordon led a track-record 219 laps at Las Vegas, but the decision to take two new tires only during his final pit stop cost him the victory here. After putting on four fresh tires, Jimmie Johnson quickly chased down his Hendrick Motorsports teammate following the last restart with 34 laps remaining. Johnson finally passed Gordon with 17 laps to go and then easily cruised to his second consecutive win. He won the week prior at Fontana, CA.
Kevin Harvick, who also took four tires on his last stop, finished second, while Gordon came in third.
Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at Las Vegas, while Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth are the only other drivers with multiple victories here with two apiece.
The Busch brothers -- Kyle and Kurt -- hold the top two spots in points heading into their hometown track in Las Vegas. Kyle presently has a three- point lead over his older brother Kurt. It's the first time family members have sat 1-2 in the standings since father-son duo Bobby and Davey Allison did it after the season-opening Daytona 500 in 1988.
Kyle Busch won at Las Vegas for the first time two years ago.
"It was awesome, just the feeling of a lifetime." Busch said in describing his 2009 Las Vegas victory. "I told everyone that it would be just like another race, but it really meant a lot more than that when I got to victory lane. To have my mom there, and my brother come to victory lane, just made it that much more special."
Kurt Busch's best finish in 10 starts at this track is third, which came in 2005.
Since the series is running back-to-back races in the western part of the country, some teams, including Johnson's No.48 crew, made plans to stay out there.
"We're going to stay out instead of traveling back and forth, and just have some fun and try to relax and then head over to Vegas," Johnson said.
Forty-four teams are on the preliminary entry list for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400.