Richmond, VA- It was looking a lot like the 2012 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway for Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon.
After starting on the pole Gordon led the first 49 laps. He then had a loose wheel mid race which dropped him back to midpack and two laps down.
Like last year, he had to come back from two laps down to make his way into the Chase.
With eight laps to go Gordon did just that with a little luck on his side. Joey Logano was 25th and only had one car in front of him that was two laps down. That meant the farthest he could move up was 24th.
All Gordon had to do was finish 14 spots ahead of Logano to make the Chase. That meant Gordon had to finish ninth of better with the situation they were in. He was eighth in the closing stages.
Then Gordon’s rival Clint Bowyer spun off Turn 4 with seven laps-to-go bringing out the final caution. In April’s race at Richmond, when the front few cars didn’t pit for tires they fell off fast on the final restart. That meant all the leaders would pit with six laps-to-go in the 400 lap event.
That caution and the leaders pitting gave Logano one of his two laps back. That ended up being the straw that broke Gordon’s back.
Gordon would come out of the pits ninth and could only move up to finish eighth in the final three laps. Logano on the other hand used getting his lap back to his advantage and moved up to 22nd at the checkered flag.
That left Gordon one point out at the end of 400 laps of racing leaving him on the outside looking in for this year’s Chase. It’s just the second time that he didn’t make the Chase in his career as he has to be disappointed.
It just goes to show how tight NASCAR competition is with one point being the differential at the end of the regular season–not just for Gordon and Logano, but also for the second wild-card spot, which came down to a tie-breaker between Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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