Friday, December 15, 2017
Sports

Jeff Gordon revels in Sprint Cup victory at Homestead

HOMESTEAD — Jeff Gordon said he has beaten himself up thinking about the mayhem he caused Nov. 11 at Phoenix when he wrecked Clint Bowyer and the two teams brawled.

So before Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 he apologized to teammates.

"I apologized for the things that they had to get involved in, and I put them in that position," Gordon said. "I thanked them for having my back."

He then earned one of the most satisfying wins of his career as he wrapped up his 20th season running the No. 24 Chevrolet by climbing to 10th place in the final standings.

And he did it by outrunning Bowyer by 1.028 seconds at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"Can you believe that?" said Gordon, 41, who earned his 87th Sprint Cup win.

"I wouldn't have took us both out," Bowyer said when asked about revenge. "I just really wanted to catch the 24. That was the only what-if that went through my mind at the end."

Not that Gordon believes Bowyer's memory is short.

"That thing is going to work itself out some way through racing," Gordon said. "I still regret the way I went about it. It just ate me up all week. That's what was so special today."

KING SPEAK: Richard Petty accused NASCAR of hypocrisy when it fined Brad Kese­lowski $25,000 for tweeting a picture from his cellphone during a red-flag stop in Phoenix.

"It's hypocritical because he did it at Daytona and NASCAR had a big meeting and said, 'That's great, everybody go out there and do this just as much as you can,' " Petty said.

NASCAR chairman Brian France said the policy "evolved" when the sanctioning body factored in how cellphones might affect the digital dashboards and digital fuel injection cars will have by 2014. Hence, no phones allowed in cars.

"We have to make sure that we don't give someone an opportunity — even if it is unintentional — to manipulate some portion of digital services we're going to have," France said.

Keselowski became a sensation when he tweeted during a red-flag stop at the Daytona 500 in February. NASCAR encouraged drivers to similarly engage.

"We immediately loved the idea," France said, "loved the attention it brought, encouraged it. But we have to balance it in the competition end to make sure nobody gains an advantage."

DODGE OUT: Thanks to Kese­lowski, Dodge leaves NASCAR a Sprint Cup champion. The company made the move after Penske Racing, the last team manufacturing its engines, announced a switch to Ford.

"Maybe our results might help accelerate that for them to get back in the sport," Penske said.

Dodge left NASCAR in 1977 because parent company Chrysler was floundering. It returned in 2001 and won 56 races.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Tampa's Aric Almirola, in the No. 43 Ford, was third with one lap to go but ran out of gas and finished seventh. Zephyrhills' David Reutimann, in the No. 10 Chevy, was 34th.

ODDS AND ENDS: Kurt Busch's 10-year streak with at least one Sprint Cup win ended. … Gordon has won on every active Cup track except Kentucky, where he has driven twice.

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