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Jeff Gordon caps rough week with ‘unreal’ win

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012

Jeff Gordon ended the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season as a winner.

That’s a much better position than the one he found himself in early last week.

NASCAR fined Gordon $100,000 and stripped him of 25 points on Monday for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer during last weekend’s race at Phoenix. The incident initiated a brawl on pit road between the two drivers’ teams.

Popular opinion over the past week seemed to be he got off light and deserved to be suspended for Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Instead, he wound up in Victory Lane, earning his second victory of the season and 87th of his career.

“It is just unbelievable to experience this. After last week, then to come here and battle like this and end up in Victory Lane, just unreal,” said Gordon, who ended up 10th in the series standings.

“I felt terrible how I went about it, and I still regret the way I went about it. But, I can’t take it back. What we can do is look forward and race guys as hard and as clean as we possibly can.”

Strangely enough, it was Bowyer who Gordon had to hold off for the win Sunday.

The two were among the drivers who did not have to make a late-race pit stop for fuel. As the laps wound down, Gordon cycled into the lead on Lap 255 of 267.

Without a late-race caution to slow his momentum and bunch the field, Gordon had a sizable advantage that Bowyer could not make up on the track.

Bowyer certainly was trying, however.

“I just really wanted to catch (Gordon). That was the only ‘what if’ that went through my mind at the end,” Bowyer said about a potential clash with Gordon on the track.

“I wouldn’t have took us both out. But just what an unbelievable way to cap – what are we doing ‘what ifs’ for? It’s over.”

Gordon agreed.

“This is the way you want to win a race, by just going to battle with them and having a good race car and playing it all out really smart,” he said.

The victory at Homestead leaves Gordon with at least one win at every current track in the Cup series except Kentucky Speedway, which is in just its second season on the schedule.

Reminded of that statistic, Gordon deadpanned, “Don’t add any more tracks to the schedule.”

Utter: 704-358-5113

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