Jeff Gordon finally broke his 47-race drought, and filled another page in his personal log, by winning for the first time in 17 starts at Texas Motor Speedway and picking up the unique 'cowboy boot' trophy at the Samsung 500.
“I've got me a win in Texas - I love you!” Gordon shouted to his crew as he crossed the finish line 0.378 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson, who rallied from early handling problems to finish second.
In extending his lead in NASCAR's Sprint Cup standings to 162 points over the now second-placed Johnson, four-time champion Gordon collected the 82nd win of his Cup career, lifting him to the sixth best of all time, just behind Cale Yarborough's 83 victories. He finished 43rd and last in the corresponding 2008 race, with his only two 43rd-place Cup finishes coming at Texas.
“How ironic is this, that we go on this [winless] streak and we end it here at Texas, a place that just eluded us for so long,” said Gordon, who now has won races at every active Cup track except Homestead-Miami Speedway, “This was an incredible team effort. This whole year has been amazing, and what a great car. We've never had a car like this at Texas, and we finally had one and put it in position.”
It was Gordon's crew that established that position by getting the four-time champion off pit-road first under caution on lap 305 of 334 at the 1.5-mile speedway. That same stop was the undoing of last year's double Texas winner Carl Edwards, who entered pit-road in the lead and restarted eleventh on lap 309 after an uncharacteristically slow stop. The delay eventually saw Edwards finish tenth.
Ten laps after Gordon streaked away from the lap 309 restart, Johnson began to gain ground, closing a gap of almost two seconds to three car lengths at the finish.
“We were both driving as hard as we could,” the reigning Sprint Cup king said, “It was nice to get our car up front and get some clean air on it. We had to work really hard all day long to keep the car right. I'm very proud of the team. We have our old style back where we just keep plugging away and have it right at the end of the race.
“Another five laps and we would have been racing with him. I'm not sure what would have happened, but it was a great race altogether, and I'm very happy for Jeff. Now he's got a victory, and he's going to be tough this year - awfully tough.”
Third-place finisher Greg Biffle had one of the fastest cars on the track but, like Roush Fenway team-mate Edwards, fell victim to a pit-road catastrophe when lug nuts came unglued from his tyres during a stop on lap 252. A third Roush runner, Matt Kenseth, also lost track position on the same stop with lug nut problems, having led 55 laps to that point. The Daytona winner rallied to finish fifth.