WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The first time Jeff Gordon saw Watkins Glen International, setting a record here never entered his mind.
''I thought this was one place I'd never win at,'' he said.
Now, after making history, it seems like he can't lose.
Gordon became NASCAR's King of the Road, setting a record Sunday for road-course victories by winning the thrill-packed and attrition-filled Global Crossing.
''You start working on shifting and braking, and pretty soon you're in victory lane,'' he said after his fourth trip there in the last five years at Watkins Glen.
The three-time Winston Cup champion won for the seventh time on a road course, breaking a tie with Rusty Wallace, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for the most in history.
Gordon's victory also extended his lead in the points race to 194 over fourth-place finisher Ricky Rudd.
But it wasn't easy -- right to the end. Jeff Burton, with whom Gordon waged a magnificent battle over the final laps, hit him coming to the final turn.
''If he wanted to, he could have taken me out,'' Gordon said. ''I like racing him with because he's hard, aggressive and clean.''
Burton thought Gordon had the better car and credited Gordon's talent for helping him win the race.
''I gave him a good shot coming off the last corner but he didn't even budge,'' Burton said.
Patience had much to do with Gordon's victory, and he had said he would not try to press for the lead at the outset.
And, some early problems convinced him that was good strategy.
''The brakes were running a little hot and the pedal was going down to the floor,'' he said. ''We had to pump them for the rest of the day.''
Gordon had the lead for only one lap before passing Burton in the first of 11 turns on the 78th of 90 laps. Burton got the lead back on the next turn, but Gordon beat him through the chicane, making a great save as the cars nearly touched and almost spun.
''He drove in there too deep, and I was surprised he didn't spin out,'' Burton said.
''I didn't know if I was going to make it, either,'' Gordon said.
There were two more cautions, but each time Gordon got a good jump on the restart.
Gordon said Burton was going very slow hoping to get a run at him each time the green flag came out.
''He was hanging back so far I finally took off,'' Gordon said. ''I thought NASCAR was going to say I was jumping the restarts.''
Still, he had a close call that enabled Burton to close in on the final lap.
Elliott Sadler had hit the wall, and his badly bent car was still running -- in the path of the leaders -- as they neared the final turns.
''Elliott Sadler was all over the place, and I was just trying to be cautious,'' Gordon said. ''But Jeff wasn't because he wanted to win the race.''
It was a record-setting fourth victory for Gordon on the 2.45-mile course. He also has won three times on NASCAR's only other serpentine layout, in Sonoma, Calif.
Gordon benefited more from staying out of trouble than fast racing. Wallace had mechanical problems and was out after 14 laps, polesitter Dale Jarrett spun out on the 18th of 90 laps, road-racing ace Ron Fellows stalled on lap 36 and a fire in a telemetry box caused hard-charging Robby Gordon to quit on lap 59.
That left only Jeff Gordon, Rudd and Burton as serious contenders.
But Rudd lost his chance when Boris Said, one of several road-racing aces in the field, made a mad dash toward the front after the race went green on the 84th lap. He passed three cars, then banged Rudd out of the way to take third place.
''Boris just went in there and drove right over the top of us,'' Rudd said. ''We're lucky he didn't wipe out the whole field.
''Everybody was slipping and sliding, and it looked like a Saturday night short-track race.''
It was the second straight victory for Gordon, who also put his car in the winner's circle seven days earlier in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. The 30-year-old Gordon has 57 victories, the most among active drivers.
Gordon's Chevrolet started 13th in a field of 43 and officially beat the Ford of Burton by two car-lengths. The victory was his fifth this year, breaking his tie with Jarrett.
The winner led 14 laps. He averaged 89.801 mph in a race slowed six times by 14 laps under caution.
Jeremy Mayfield was third followed by Todd Bodine. Gordon was the only non-Ford driver in the top five.
There were 13 lead changes among 11 drivers.
Jarrett also went off the course later in the race when he was hit by Mark Martin, and fell to third in the standings, 265 points behind Gordon after a finish of 31st.
Wallace, a three-time winner here, wound up last. Fellows finished 42nd and Robby Gordon 40th.
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran produced their second straight one-two finish at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the CART Miller Lite 200.
Castroneves averaged 106.627 mph in his Reynard Honda and defeated de Ferran by 1.568 seconds. The margin separating the Marlboro Team Penske drivers was slightly closer than it was last year, when Castroneves won by 4.425 seconds.
He became the sixth driver in 20 years of CART racing at Mid-Ohio to win back-to-back events, joining Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi.
The victory moved Castroneves into second place in the points standings, one point behind leader Kenny Brack, who finished 20th. It was the third CART victory of the year for the Brazilian, who also won the Indianapolis 500 and Michigan 500.
Indy Racing League
SPARTA, Ky. -- Buddy Lazier took his first lead on lap 112 and held off Robbie Buhl to win the Indy Racing League Northern Light Series Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Lazier, who won last year's Kentucky event en route to the series championship, became the first IRL driver to win four races in a single season.
Lazier, who started 11th in the 22-car field, has was won four of five races to pull within striking distance of Sam Hornish Jr. for the points title.
Polesitter Scott Sharp led the first 105 laps of the 200-lap race before giving way to Hornish and then Lazier.
Buhl passed Lazier to take the lead with 12 laps remaining, but Lazier regained the lead on the inside with eight to go.
The two battled wheel-to-wheel until Buhl ran out of fuel on the backstretch with a lap remaining, giving Lazier his eighth career IRL victory.
Peninsula Clarion © 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us