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Gordon closes fast as others conserve, but finishes 2nd

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Monday, Aug. 01, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Gordon might have had the best car on the track in the waning laps of the Brickyard 400, but he was not in the best position.

Several drivers had topped off their fuel tanks on the final caution and were trying to cover the remaining 34 laps without stopping.

The gap between leader Paul Menard and Gordon was 13 spots, but looked even wider on the 2.5-mile track.

“There were some guys that were going to try to stretch it on fuel and all I could do is run as hard as I could to put pressure on them and hope that I got there in time,” said Gordon.

He almost did.

With two of the 160 laps remaining, Gordon pulled into second place behind Menard. But, try as he might, he couldn’t close enough to attempt a pass and settled for the second-place finish.

“Paul did a great job saving fuel because when I got there,‭ ‬even Regan (Smith) and other guys,‭ ‬they were still pretty much (slowing) up when I got there.‭ It was easy to get by them,” Gordon said.

“‬But Paul had saved enough to where he could go back to a full pace.‭ ‬By that time,‭ ‬my car was just too tight behind him.”

From beginning to end, Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, believed they had the car and team to get Gordon his record fifth Brickyard 400 victory.

“I feel like our team executed the race excellently. I don’t see any fault in what we did today,” Gustafson said.

“You hate that running bad gives those guys an advantage. It happens and you take advantage when you get it. It’s tough to swallow.”

Gordon remains seventh in the series standings, yet only 52 points behind leader Carl Edwards. He is virtually assured of making the Chase field based on points and his two wins.

But don’t expect a change in strategy.

“W‬e're going to try to put the same kind of effort we just did today and just keep building our team up to be able to be championship-caliber when the Chase comes around," Gordon said. "I think we're very close.

“A‬lan and I,‭ ‬it took us a little while to get to know one another,‭ ‬how to communicate with one another,‭ ‬what I need in the car.‭ ‬He's been really giving me great stuff to drive.

“‬It's been a blast.”

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