Gordon dominates at Sears Point

Jeff Gordon set a NASCAR record on Sunday with his sixth straight road course victory, winning the Save Mart/Kragen 350 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California.

Gordon dominates at Sears Point

Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Gordon held off the Chevy of Sterling Marlin and 1997 champion Mark Martin in a Ford Taurus for his second Winston Cup victory of the season and the 51st of his career.

"Everybody said, `If they don't win on a road course, there's really something wrong,'" said Gordon, whose other win this year came at Talladega Superspeedway on April 16. "Well, we dodged that bullet."

Marlin's second-place finish was his best on a road course, while Martin gained two positions to move up to seventh in the Winston Cup points standings.

Series points leader Bobby Labonte was fourth in a Pontiac Grand Prix, with Ricky Rudd rounding out the top five in a Ford. Rudd scored his eighth top-10 finish in 12 races at Sears Point.

After starting fifth, Gordon took the chequered flag by four seconds as he led 42 of the 112 laps, the most of any driver. He posted his 12th straight top-10 finish on a road course.

Born in nearby Vallejo, California, he also won the previous two races held at Sonoma.

"It's what I call home and where I was born... It couldn't work out any better for us," Gordon said.

Dale Earnhardt, a winner here in 1995, finished sixth after starting 29th. He has earned a series-high 13 top-10 finishes this season.

Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett followed in seventh with Jerry Nadeau, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart's Pontiac completing the top 10.

Stewart exited his car late in the race due to heat exhaustion and was replaced by John Andretti, who was the first driver to drop out after an accident on lap 15.

"The car was capable," said Stewart. "I'm just not sure I was capable with the way I was feeling. I haven't really felt 100 percent all weekend. I guess it caught up with me finally."

"Some day he may help us," Andretti said. "It's hot here in Sonoma. I was happy to help out, but I was very unhappy that I was available to help out."

The top five positions in the overall points standings remained unchanged and are separated by 266 points.

Labonte picked up 10 points and leads Earnhardt by 67. Jarrett is 62 behind
Earnhardt, followed by Ward and Jeff Burton. Rudd, the only driver in the top 10 without a victory in 2000, improved two slots to sixth after today's results.

It was Gordon's third straight win on the 1.95-mile course in the hills of Northern California's wine country.

Gordon, who started fifth, traded the lead with several drivers over the course of the 112-lap race, but managed his fuel well and kept his Chevrolet in front for the final 25 laps to finish 4.1 seconds in front of Sterling Marlin. Mark Martin finished close behind in third.

"I knew I was faster," Gordon said of the 43-car field. "I knew I could put the heat on them and see if I could make them make a mistake."

Gordon, the three-time Winston Cup champion, started his record six-race streak in 1997 at Watkins Glen, in upstate New York, the only other road course track on the Winston Cup circuit.

Rusty Wallace, a road course specialist with six overall victories on tracks with right turns, had the pole but finished a disappointing 26th.

Wallace qualified with a track record 99.309 mph on Friday. With his new Ford road-course car, Wallace beat Gordon's previous best of 98.711 mph on the track's current configuration, set during qualifying in 1998.

Wallace has won three of the last four poles, and six overall this season - the most for any driver on the Winston Cup circuit.

Starting alongside Wallace in the front row was Kyle Petty, the sentimental favourite following a number of recent family tragedies. Sadly, Petty could only finish 19th.


112 laps
Pos, Driver, Car, Time/laps
J Gordon, Chevrolet, 2h46m14s (78.789mph)
S Marlin, Chevrolet, +4.101s
M Martin, Ford, 112 laps
B Labonte, Pontiac, 112
R Rudd, Ford, 112
D Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 112
D Jarrett, Ford, 112
J Nadeau, Chevrolet, 112
R Gordon, Ford, 112
T Stewart, Pontiac, 112

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