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With eight laps to go on Saturday night under the lights at Kansas Speedway, Jeff Gordon took the lead and held on to take the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway. With his third career win at Kansas, Gordon now is the all-time winner at the 1.5-mile speedway. More importantly, the points leader now can breathe a sigh of relief because the win virtually guarantees him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jimmie Johnson lined up 14th at the 1.5-mile speedway and stayed toward the middle of the pack for the first 45 laps. Once the drivers began to make green-flag pit stops, crew chief Chad Knaus instructed Johnson to stay out for another lap. The risk paid off, as the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS was on pit road when the caution flag was waved at Lap 47. The late pit stop allowed Johnson to restart from the fifth position at Lap 53, and by Lap 58, he was running third. Johnson slipped to the back of the field temporarily, but was undaunted in his forward march. Despite issues with his clutch, he was back in the top 10 by Lap 120 and ultimately cracked the top five at Lap 149. Johnson took the lead on lap 183. He pit late in the race for fuel only and had to climb back into the top 10. He rejoined his Hendrick Motorsports teammates there with 38 laps to go and finished ninth at the 1.5-mile speedway.
QUOTING JIMMIE: YOU HAD A LOT GOING ON TODAY, BUT CAME OUT OF IT WITH A 9THPLACE FINISH. WHAT STANDS OUT THE MOST ABOUT THE RACE?
“Overcoming adversity (stands out the most); we didn’t have a clutch in the car so pit stops were limited and track position was a big key. You just really had to grind it out today and then we did and we got a decent finish.”
DO YOU THINK THERE WAS ANY WAY YOU COULD HAVE MADE IT TO THE FINISH WITHOUT THE SPLASH & GO STOP FOR FUEL ON LAP 255?
‘Yeah, it didn’t sound like it. I don’t think so. We just didn’t have that optimism on the radio, so I don’t think so. By doing that we were able to get a top ten (finish).
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHERS: Jeff Gordon (1st), Kasey Kahne (3rd), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (5th).
NEXT UP: Sprint All-Star race on Saturday, May 17th at 9pm ET.