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Jeff Gordon at Texas -- Finally!


Pit stops were key, and Jeff Gordon finally wins at Texas Motor Speedway, in his 17th try (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   FORT WORTH, Texas
   Jeff Gordon broke his infamous Texas jinx with a solid victory in Sunday's Texas Samsung 500, broke a year-plus losing streak stretching back to October 2007, and notched career win No. 82, within just one of tying legendary Cale Yarborough on the all-time NASCAR victory list.
   The only track Gordon has now never won at is Homestead.
   Though Gordon was strong all day, clean air was so important for aerodynamics that pit road set up most lead changes.
   In fact a slow pit stop proved costly to Carl Edwards, who was leading Gordon, in a hot duel, when the caution came out with 45 miles to go. Edwards, who won both races here last year, fell back to 11th for the restart with 40 miles to go and never got back in the game.
   Down the stretch it was Jimmie Johnson chasing teammate Gordon, coming up five lengths shy after a hard charge. And Greg Biffle edge Tony Stewart for third.
   "How ironic is it we go on the streak (without wins) … and then end it here like this," Gordon said.
    "First I know Ella (his new daughter) is saying 'Go, papa, go!
   "Hey, boss, I got you those six-shooters.
   "And how about my teammate – you just can't shake this guy."
   Matt Kenseth and pole winner David Reutimann both led good stretches. But Gordon was too much for anyone to handle late in the 3-1/2-hour race.
   Two other big stories here at Texas Motor Speedway – the solid crowd, maybe 160,000 strong…and the boring action on the track.
   Give promoter Eddie Gossage a pat on the back, for the nearly full grandstands.
   However, NASCAR desperately needs a shot of pizzazz, as it slogs through a so far rather uneventful stock car racing season, and this race certainly wasn't much good medicine.
   Some of racing's top promoters say they are increasingly worried that the difficult handling car-of-tomorrow may be driving fans away from this sport, not only for its untraditional styling cues, but also for too-frequently uncompetitive races. And this 500 didn't offer much in rebuttal, at least not until the last 40 miles, when the hard scrambling began in earnest.
   And once Gordon got a decent lead, he was gone.
   For most of the three-hour race drivers strung themselves out in a long line, with huge gaps between the cars, in action – or rather inaction – similar to that seen at California's Auto Club Speedway.


Eddie Gossage nearly filled the house for Bruton Smith....but the huge crowd really didn't see great racing (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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