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Jeff Gordon ends 66-race skid with win at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Just before peeling off what he called a "lame burnout" near the finish line, Jeff Gordon screamed into his radio, the emotion pouring out with his voice.

"We just beat Kyle Busch!" he yelled.

Gordon did much more than that. He was headed back to Victory Lane, the longest winless streak of his career finally over.

Overcoming a slew of potential pitfalls, Gordon passed Busch with eight laps left and stretched his lead, ending his winless streak at 66 races Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

"It feels so amazing. I can't tell you how amazing this feels," Gordon said. "It's been a long time, I know, and I'm going to savor this one so much."

PIR has been the place to end long winless streaks lately. Ryan Newman halted a 77-race skid at PIR last spring, and Carl Edwards stopped his streak at 70 in the fall.

Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion, was mired in a drought that seemed inexplicable.

Early in Sunday's Subway 500, Gordon was knocked into the wall by Edwards and later had to avoid a massive wreck that led to a 14-minute red flag.

Gordon still led a race-high 138 of 312 laps and pulled alongside Busch, then bumped him out of the way to win for the first time since April 2009 at Texas.

"He was on a mission (Sunday), that's for sure," said Busch, who held on for second to fall just short of winning all three NASCAR races in the same weekend for the second time. "When Jeff Gordon has a good car and he's got the opportunity to beat you, he's going to beat you, there's no doubt about that. He's my hero, and I've always watched him and what he's been able to accomplish over the years, so it's no surprise that he beat us."

A big storm overnight left a dusting of snow on the mountains above the track and washed away all the rubber that had built up on the track the previous two days. That meant a change in setups, more grip and more speed.

And it seemed the extra speed was hard to handle, leading to many early cautions, including one that took out Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne after 49 laps. He finished 41st.

Edwards led several laps early, but his No. 99 car got sent to the infield grass when Busch's car got loose and hit him on the right.

"The car kind of got out from underneath on the backstretch, and I made a mistake and got into Carl Edwards, completely destroying his day," Busch said. "I can understand his frustration, and I apologize to him first and foremost."

Edwards said he believed Busch after watching a replay.

A few laps later, the big wreck hit, triggered when Matt Kenseth bumped Brian Vickers coming out of Turn 2.

But after all the dust settled, Gordon had a raucous celebration in Victory Lane.

"We were the only one to beat Kyle Busch this weekend, and he's so tough to beat," Gordon said. "What an awesome, awesome feeling to have a car like that."

And to win like that, finally.

NHRA: Lucas wins in hometown matchup

Morgan Lucas beat Shawn Langdon in a matchup of former high school classmates in the Top Fuel final at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. Lucas won with a run of 3.835 seconds at 316.38 mph. The Lucas Oil Racing teammates graduated in 2001 from Jurupa Valley High in nearby Mira Loma. Robert Hight won the Funny Car final, and Jason Line took Pro Stock.

.FAST FACTS

All-time elite

The drivers with the most career Sprint Cup victories; Jeff Gordon tied for fifth Sunday:

Richard Petty 200

David Pearson 105

Bobby Allison 85

Darrell Waltrip 84

Jeff Gordon 83

Cale Yarborough 83

Jeff Gordon ends 66-race skid with win at Phoenix 02/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:35pm]
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