Jeff Gordon: “We needed a little bit longer run”

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Jeff Gordon was stellar on long green flag runs during tonight’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, but a rash of late yellows proved costly to his attempt to earn his first win of the year.

Nonetheless, his second-place finish to winner Joey Logano enabled him to keep the Sprint Cup points lead for one more week by a margin of five points over Matt Kenseth, who placed fifth.

Gordon was running second to Kenseth when the caution came out with 33 laps to go for a tire issue involving Jimmie Johnson. But when the leaders came down pit road for service, the four-time Cup champion tried a bit of gamesmanship by allowing teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to pass him for second coming out of the pits.

It was all in a bid to gain the coveted inside line, and it worked out – but only briefly. Off the restart with 25 laps to go, Denny Hamlin was spun out in Turn 3 to bring out the yellow and Gordon had fallen back to fourth by that point.

A blown engine from J.J. Yeley with 16 laps left would bunch up the field again for what would be the final restart of the night with nine laps left. Running third, Gordon and second-place Brad Keselowski applied heavy pressure to leader Kenseth.

But with five laps to go, Logano started to make his move to the front by passing Gordon in Turn 3. He then got past Keselowski and Kenseth on the next circuit to take the lead for good.

“Joey was in the right place there,” Gordon said. “He had a good short run car and we were battling it out. And Matt was making his car really super-wide, which you’ve got to do to try to win, and we were just battling hard.

“And it just didn’t come down the way that we needed it to. We needed a little bit longer run.”

But Gordon was still happy that he was able to mix it up for the win even in a less-than-ideal situation.

“It was a great battle,” he said. “Overall, I’m very happy with the results of this race team and the effort. I’m having so much fun. The pit stops were amazing tonight, we are leading the points and it’s just a matter of time before this team wins.”

Make sure to follow all of Friday’s Indy 500 ‘Carb Day’ action on NBCSN from Indianapolis

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It’s known as “Carburetor Day” – or in its simplest term, just “Carb Day.”

But the final day of on-track action Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 is so much more.

Especially on NBCSN, which will have wall-to-wall live coverage starting Friday morning.

Here’s how Friday’s schedule breaks down:

  • 11 a.m. ET: Carb Day kicks off with the final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500. The session will last one hour in length.
  • 12 p.m. ET: We’re going racing! Strap in for coverage of the Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 on the famous Brickyard.
  • 1:30 p.m. ET: We’ll have coverage of the annual IndyCar Pit Stop Challenge. Which teams have the best – and most importantly, fastest and accurate – pit crews? Team Penske has won 10 of the last 12, including the last two years edging out Schmidt Peterson Motorsports each time. Who can potentially beat them this year?
  • 3:30 p.m. ET: We’ll have our annual Motorsports Special. Among segments included will be:

    1) 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi will discuss how it used to upset him when people suggested he “backed into” his big win and how he didn’t really feel vindicated until he qualified on the front row for last year’s race.
    2) Defending 500 winner Takuma Sato, the first Japanese driver to ever win at Indianapolis, discusses the impact of his big win personally and professionally, particularly back in his native land.
    3) An essay by Robin Miller on Stefan Wilson giving up his ride last year to allow Fernando Alonso to race for Andretti Autosport.

Check your local listings for replay times.

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