Jeff Gordon Wins No. 85

Tony Stewart Hangs on to a Chase Berth at Atlanta

Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart finished third at Atlanta to remain in the Top 10 in the Championship standings (photo courtesy: Jared C. Tilton, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

Jeff Gordon survived a two-day rain delay and a charging Jimmie Johnson over the final laps to get his 85th career victory at Atlanta. In a battle that had the fans on their feet for almost the final 40 laps of the race, five-time Sprint Cup Champion Johnson came across the finish line just 0.598 seconds behind Gordon. With the runner-up finish, Johnson heads to Richmond, the final race before the start of the Chase as the points leader with one victory to his credit thus far this year. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

"Eighty-five. Wow!" Gordon said. "That is un- unbelievable."

The victory moves Gordon into sole possession of third place on the all-time career list behind only Richard Petty and David Pearson.

"This team is on a roll," Gordon said. "I just feel rejuvenated."

Gordon developed a comfortable lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson in the late stages of the race, but with a dozen laps left Johnson closed the gap. Over the last 10 laps it was a tight battle with both cars fighting to keep from getting sideways.

"It was really fun racing with him," Gordon said. "I was slipping. He was slipping."

This fall, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host NASCAR during Ford Championship Weekend for the 10th consecutive year, where four-time Champion Gordon will be looking for a fifth Sprint Cup Series crown while trying to win the race against hunger among older Americans. 

Homestead-Miami Speedway is joining AARP and AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger in the fight to end hunger for older Americans. For Ford Championship Weekend, Nov. 18 to 20, when race fans purchase a ticket package that includes a meet and greet with Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, a $24 donation will be made to AARP Foundation for Drive to End Hunger.

“We’re really thrilled that Homestead-Miami Speedway has joined us in this important fight,” Gordon said. “Six million seniors struggle with hunger in this country—many of them right here in South Florida. At every race fans ask how to help this great cause.  They know we can end hunger if we all work together.”

The Drive to End Hunger effort includes collaborating with national partners that work to enhance and supplement distribution networks, like food banks and food pantries; individual and corporate giving campaigns; and local outreach to enroll seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. More than six million older adults face the threat of hunger. More than 20 percent of Floridians have reported not having enough money to buy food in the last year, while 5.14 percent of Florida seniors face the threat of hunger.

The $124 package salutes Jeff Gordon, NASCAR’s winningest active driver and four-time Sprint Cup Series Champion. For each ticket sold the Homestead-Miami Speedway Foundation will donate $24 to the Drive to End Hunger crusade. The package is available by calling (866) 409-RACE or visiting HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com/JeffGordon.

Tony Stewart earned a badly needed third-place finish to give him some cushion in the points as he tries to hold onto the 10th and final position in the Chase. Stewart finished third to help his chances of making the Chase as he increased his lead over 11th place Brad Keselowski to 23 points.

“The points are big going into next week, that’s for sure,” Stewart said of heading into Saturday night’s regular season finale at Richmond. “I’m proud of the effort everybody gave this week. It may come down to one point. Having the strong finish we had here, maybe that will be the difference in making it or not making it next week.”

Carl Edwards finished fifth at Atlanta. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
 
“There was a lot of hard driving out there,” said Edwards, who won Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at Atlanta. “I don’t know what it looked like from outside the car, but from inside the car it was a lot of work. It’s one of the most fun race tracks we go to, I wish we were coming back here next week.”

Johnson leads the Sprint Cup Series standings by 21 points over Kyle Busch with Edwards, Kenseth and Gordon the top five. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman clinched Chase spots while Keselowski earned the first wild card berth. Denny Hamlin leads as the second wild card candidate.

It was a tough day for Clint Bowyer, who was trying to make a late run into a Chase berth. He made contact racing with Miami resident Juan Pablo Montoya for position and wound up crashing his No. 33 car. Credited with a 36th place finish; Bowyer fell to 14th in the standings.

“You can't race around the jackass," Bowyer said after he climbed from his battered racecar. "You never can. Anybody in this sport knows what you're up against when the 42 comes up. He dive-bombs the starts and bullies his way up in there, and before you know it, he's in the way and wrecking with somebody. Unfortunately, I was victim this week. It's just a shame. We're out here racing for a spot in the Chase. He's racing for nothing, you know? I'm tired of it. Everybody in the garage area fights him. He's just an idiot."

Nine drivers have now clinched spots in the Chase. Of the drivers in the Top 10, only Stewart in 10th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in ninth have yet to clinch. Keselowski, who is 11th in points and has three wins, clinched one of the two wild card spots. Once the checkered flag waves at Richmond September 10, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Heading into the final race of the regular season, here are the clinch scenarios for the remaining three Chase spots.
            
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt is currently 25 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Earnhardt will clinch if he finishes:
• 20th or better
• 21st or better and leads at least one lap
• 22nd or better and leads the most laps
 
Tony Stewart
Stewart is currently 23 points ahead of 11th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Stewart will clinch if he finishes:
• 18th or better
• 19th or better and leads at least one lap
• 20th or better and leads the most laps

A number of different finishes affect the Wild Card scenario.

- With a victory, Denny Hamlin will earn at least a Wild Card spot.
- With a victory, Paul Menard will earn a Wild Card spot.
- With a victory AND entry into the top 20, Marcos Ambrose or David Ragan will earn a Wild Card spot. Both drivers are currently outside the top 20. Ambrose is seven points outside the top 20; Ragan is 20 points outside the top 20.

All drivers through 23rd place in the series standings remain eligible for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Aside from the scenarios listed above, those without an already-clinched Chase spot need a win, a Top 20 spot and various finishes from other drivers to earn a Chase spot.
 
Once the checkered flag waves at Richmond September 10, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

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