NASCAR: Jeff Gordon Holds off Sideways Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup Series

Luke KrmpotichContributor IISeptember 6, 2011

Five-Time must have really wanted this one.

Jimmie Johnson was completely sideways as he desperately tried to pass AdvoCare 500 winner Jeff Gordon in the final laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In the end, the driver known for his decade-long "Drive for Five" moved into third place on NASCAR's all-time win list with his 85th Cup series victory.

Gordon claimed his third victory of 2011 and, in doing so, broke a three-way tie for career wins with Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.

He had to earn this one, however.

For much of the final green-flag run, Gordon held a comfortable lead of nearly two seconds. But with about 10 laps to go, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson had closed the gap.

Johnson appeared to have the slightly faster car, but despite several attempts to pass the No. 24 car, he came up short in the end. Both cars were extremely loose, especially Johnson's, who drove his car sideways through the turns during the final laps.

With the win, Gordon cemented his status as a top title contender. It's been 10 years since he captured his fourth title in 2001. However, Gordon is as hungry as ever now that his protege passed him in titles by winning a fifth consecutive championship last season.

At Atlanta Gordon proved that he can still beat Johnson for a race win. It remains to be seen whether he can accomplish the same feat over the 10 weeks of the Chase for the Championship.