Jeff Gordon put an end to his 47-race winless streak by taking victory in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The four-time Sprint Cup champion held off a late attack from teammate Jimmie Johnson after emerging in the lead from the last round of pit stops. Carl Edwards had been up front before that but he hit trouble while getting four new tires bolted to his car, losing any chance of victory.
Gordon first led the race in the early laps after starting from the front row, but he struggled with a very loose car and could only remain in the top five. During the third caution of the day, he stayed out while the leaders pitted and got back into contention for the win.
A perfectly executed last stop allowed him to grab the lead after entering the pits in third place behind Edwards and Tony Stewart. Johnson quickly got by Stewart following the restart with 26 laps remaining. Traffic for Gordon allowed Johnson to eat into his lead, but not enough to prevent him from taking his first win of the season and his first at Texas.
"I'm so thrilled to finally win here at Texas," Gordon said. "The car was amazing all day and we kept in the top-five. (Crew chief) Steve Letarte and the team did a great job making adjustments and brought the car to life there towards the end, plus we had a great pit stop to put us up front.
"We were just flying and I see my teammate coming and I was like, 'Where's he been all day?' and here he comes and, honestly, I thought he was going to get me and probably in another five laps he would've. We really tuned it up for that short run and I got out there and run."
Johnson only led one lap all afternoon although he was always around the top 10. He only became a threat for victory in the last third of the race after getting the right balance on his car, and was visibly disappointed not to get a second win in a row. However, his second-place finish has brought him up in the standings to second place, behind Gordon.
"I was coming," Johnson said. "Five more (laps) and I would've had a shot at him. We were both driving as hard as we could. It was good to get our car at the front and get some clean air on it.
"We had to work really hard to get our car right and I'm so very proud of the team. 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."
Greg Biffle was the fastest car in the closing laps of the race and one of three Roush Fenway drivers who looked capable of winning at some point. He led 93 laps, only 12 less than Gordon, but problems during pit stops were the common denominator for him and his teammates, as Edwards and Matt Kenseth also lost any chance of victory in the pits.
Tony Stewart continued to impress with his newly-formed squad and claimed yet another top five finish, also leading the race for 16 laps. However his pace in the short runs didn't allow him to be in contention in the final part of the race.
"We were really good in the long runs but we weren't very good in taking off," Stewart said after finishing fourth and moving up to fifth in the championship. "After about 25 laps we were the fastest car on the racetrack all day. But we just lacked in the short runs."
Kenseth was fifth ahead of veteran Mark Martin, while Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his best result of the season with a seventh place finish, having run consistently in the top 10 all race-long. Kurt Busch was eighth behind him, while Jeff Burton and a disappointed Edwards rounded out the top 10.
Polesitter David Reutimann finished 11th after a great recovery from being a lap down due to a pit-road penalty that he had to serve under green-flag conditions.
Denny Hamlin was a silent 12th, while his teammate Kyle Busch had yet another bad weekend when he got a cut tire early on and dropped a lap down.
Clint Bowyer, who was second in the championship heading into Texas, struggled for balance throughout the race and could only manage 22nd place, finishing a lap down and dropping to fourth in the standings.
Samsung 500 results
Pos Driver Car Laps
1. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 334
2. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 334
3. Greg Biffle Ford 334
4. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 334
5. Matt Kenseth Ford 334
6. Mark Martin Chevrolet 334
7. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 334
8. Kurt Busch Dodge 334
9. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 334
10. Carl Edwards Ford 334
11. David Reutimann Toyota 334
12. Denny Hamlin Toyota 334
13. Paul Menard Ford 334
14. David Stremme Dodge 334
15. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 334
16. Brian Vickers Toyota 334
17. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 334
18. Kyle Busch Toyota 333
19. Kasey Kahne Dodge 333
20. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 333
21. Casey Mears Chevrolet 333
22. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 333
23. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 332
24. Michael Waltrip Toyota 332
25. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 332
26. John Andretti Chevrolet 332
27. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 331
28. Bill Elliott Ford 331
29. David Gilliland Chevrolet 330
30. Joey Logano Toyota 330
31. Regan Smith Chevrolet 330
32. Elliott Sadler Dodge 329
33. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 328
34. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 328
35. Max Papis Toyota 326
36. Reed Sorenson Dodge 315
37. David Ragan Ford 293
38. Jamie McMurray Ford 255
39. Robby Gordon Toyota 249
40. Bobby Labonte Ford 229
41. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 216
42. Mike Bliss Dodge 76
43. Dave Blaney Toyota 48