Jeff Gordon will have to wait another week to get that elusive first win of 2014. Despite leading for much of Saturday's Toyota Owners 400, No. 24 spent a split second too long in the pits, relinquished his lead late and watched as Joey Logano earned the checkered flag.
It's his second win of the season and all but assures him a place in the final Chase:
For Gordon, it's more misery at Richmond. He hasn't won a race there going on 14 years, according to ESPN's Matt Willis:
Jeff Gordon's last Richmond win came in 2000. No other driver in the top 5 that night is in the race tonight. #NASCAR— Matt Willis (@MattWillisESPN) April 27, 2014
Despite Gordon dominating for much of the race, Logano more than earned his victory by virtue of his bravura driving during the final stages. After what proved to be the final caution of the race with 10 laps to go, he was hovering between fourth and fifth. With six laps to go, he was still in fourth place.
However, Logano managed to beat Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski on the inside. With a combination of deft driving and good luck, he climbed into the lead and put some distance between himself and Gordon, cruising to what was eventually a comfortable win.
USA Today's Jeff Gluck couldn't believe what he had seen:
That was crazy. I need to see a replay. How did he do that??— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) April 27, 2014
When you watch it again, the ease with which Logano so seamlessly moved into the lead was astounding. Despite only leading 46 laps of the race, compared to 173 for Gordon, No. 22 was the deserved winner.
You can see the top 10 finishers below:
|7||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||3.714|
|10||Martin Truex Jr.||5.161|
Here's a look at the overall standings after Saturday's race:
|5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||-32||1|
After the race, tempers flared between some drivers.
First, there was some beef between Keselowski and Kenseth:
Brad Keselowski is PISSED at Kenseth. There was contact after the race I think.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) April 27, 2014
Then, Marcos Ambrose went off and clocked Casey Mears:
With the compact nature of the race, emotions were bound to hit a boiling point for some.
Although the post-race drama and Logano's win demand a ton of attention, spare a thought for pole-sitter Kyle Larson. He spun out on the first turn of the first lap after making contact with Clint Bowyer:
Bowyer owned up to his mistake, per SB Nation's Jordan Bianchi:
Clint Bowyer: “Tell (Kyle Larson) I didn't mean to do that. I got under him and he just turned back down.”— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) April 26, 2014
While the blame could be apportioned to both drivers, Bowyer probably could've been a little less aggressive on the first lap of the race.
But Larson had little time for apologies on the track, letting Bowyer know that the wreck did in fact happen on the first lap, per Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg:
Fox just showed Larson flipping Bowyer off— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) April 26, 2014
The racing gods had the last laugh, though, as Bowyer's tires caught fire later in the race:
Larson recovered from his early misfortune to finish 16th, while Bowyer could only complete 160 laps and finished dead last, 43rd.
Drivers will head to the Talladega Superspeedway for next week's Aaron's 499. David Ragan enters as the defending champion. He sits 31st in the standings, so it would be a great opportunity to get his 2014 campaign on track.
For Gordon, it's a chance to get that crucial first victory of the year. Although he remains the points leader, he also sits on the outside looking in on the final Chase. A four-time winner of the Aaron's 499, No. 24 is in a great position to get into Victory Lane for the first time in 2014.