CONCORD, N.C. - Jeff Gordon staked his claim to the Nextel Cup title last night, winning his second straight race to widen his lead in the Chase for the Championship standings.
The four-time series champion led Kyle Busch on a restart with five laps to go at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but as he tried to hold off his teammate, Ryan Newman slid by both Hendrick Motorsports cars to grab the lead at the
Newman seemed to be headed to an easy win, but inexplicably spun out while running by himself to bring out the caution. Gordon inherited the lead, but had a fuel issue that had him stressed about a pickup problem when the race resumed for a two-lap overtime finish.
But his Chevrolet was flawless on the final start, and he pulled away from Clint Bowyer and Busch for his first win at the suburban Charlotte track since 1999.
"Man, that was awesome! To win at Charlotte!" he yelled over his radio.
The speedway had vexed him for several years, even though Gordon notched the first of his 81 career victories in 1994 at the track and picked up three more wins along the way. Although he had struggled at Lowe's of late - he was 41st in May - he turned it around when everything was on the line.
On a night where teammate Jimmie Johnson had an uncharacteristic spin, Gordon was nearly flawless as he beat Bowyer to the finish line by 0.579 seconds to win his sixth race of the season and second straight. Gordon also won last week at Talladega Superspeedway, and with five races to go in the Chase, he widened his lead in the points from 9 at the start of the night to 68 points over Johnson.
Bowyer finished second to maintain third in the standings, 78 points back.
Busch was third, and gained two spots in the Chase standings, but is still sixth and 280 points out. Jeff Burton was fourth, followed by Carl Edwards, Dave Blaney, and Tony Stewart as Chase drivers took six of the first seven spots.