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Jeff Gordon takes Pocono win; joins Allison and Waltrip for third all-time

Jeff Gordon performs a burnout on his way to Victory Lane after his fifth career Sprint Cup victory at Pocono, tying Bill Elliott’s record for the most wins at the triangular track.

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Jeff Gordon performs a burnout on his way to Victory Lane after his fifth career Sprint Cup victory at Pocono, tying Bill Elliott’s record for the most wins at the triangular track.

LONG POND, Pa. — Jeff Gordon is pushing 40, far removed from the cocky kid who shot to superstardom and helped put NASCAR in the mainstream.

But at any age, Gordon still knows how to win.

Gordon moved into a tie for third on NASCAR's Sprint Cup victories list, winning for the 84th time Sunday at Pocono Raceway. He tied Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on the career wins list and tied Bill Elliott with five victories on the 2½-mile triangle track.

"There's no doubt, I'm blown away with what I've accomplished," Gordon said.

Gordon won in February at Phoenix and has multiple victories in a season for the first time since 2007. The Phoenix win ended his drought at 66 races. This time he waited just 11.

The four-time series champion, who turns 40 on Aug. 4, trails Richard Petty (200 victories) and David Pearson (105) in wins. Some sources list Allison with 85 wins but NASCAR officially recognizes 84 as his total.

Gordon, completing his 19th season at NASCAR's top level, was winless in 2008 and '10 and, even in the years he made the Chase for the Championship, was never a true threat to bring home the title.

"We were living at the peak of the mountain there for a number of years," Gordon said. "It was awesome. When you're there, you know you're going to get knocked off eventually."

Pole-sitter Kurt Busch was second in the 5-Hour Energy 500, with his brother Kyle third.

But NASCAR said Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota failed postrace inspection because the left-front end was too low. His car was to be taken to NASCAR's research and development center.

Denny Hamlin, who led early and has four wins here, ran into tire woes and dropped to 19th. Carl Edwards' points lead fell from 40 to six when a bad engine knocked him out early. He finished 37th.

Gordon made his way around Juan Montoya for the lead on Lap 160 and led the rest of the way except for a brief interval during pit stops.

A change in the Chase format means Gordon, 11th in points, is all but assured of a spot. The top 10 plus two wild cards, based on wins, from spots 11-20 make the Chase. Gordon is the only driver currently ranked 11-20 with a victory.

And now he has two.

When all the pieces are in place, Gordon feels, "I'm as good as I've ever been."

Jeff Gordon takes Pocono win; joins Allison and Waltrip for third all-time 06/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 12, 2011 9:59pm]
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