Jeff Gordon’s problem came early, and the timing was the key to his winning the Pocono 500 on Sunday in Pennsylvania.
When a tire was cut on his Chevrolet after only 20 of the 200 laps, Gordon pitted under green-flag conditions, got quick work from his crew and came back onto the track without losing a lap, but far behind the leaders.
A caution flag on Lap 59, when Bobby Labonte spun, enabled Gordon to close on the leaders and quick work on pit stops the rest of the way pushed him to the front of the race that he led for 10 of its last 68 laps.
He beat Jeff Burton’s Ford to the finish line by 1.415 seconds, averaging 139.828 mph, and collected $166,080. Gordon also moved into a first-place tie with teammate Terry Labonte for the Winston Cup points lead with 1,955.
“I’ve lost by missing a shift. I’ve spun out and I’ve been stuck in the mud,” Gordon said of his history at Pocono. And on Sunday, “I thought the day was over [with the tire problem]. At least we were at Pocono, where there’s a lot of race track to work with.”
Greg Moore, who a week ago became the youngest winner of a race in the history of the CART series, became the youngest winner of two in a row, taking the Detroit Grand Prix when Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell ran out of fuel on the last lap.
On the tight, demanding 2.1-mile, 14-turn Belle Isle road circuit in the middle of the Detroit River, Moore lost the lead when he pitted during a caution period on Lap 51.
He came back onto the track in fourth place, behind Gugelmin, Blundell and rookie Patrick Carpentier, all of whom hoped to make the entire 77-lap, 161.7-mile race on one stop.
Carpentier gave up on Lap 67, pitting for fuel.
Less than halfway through the final lap, Gugelmin slowed. Then, only two turns from the finish, Blundell slowed and Moore darted around him to win.
Michael Andretti finished second, 1.818 seconds behind Moore, who averaged 86.047 mph.
Tony Kanaan led every lap and teammate and fellow Brazilian Helio Castro-Neves chased him most of the way in the Detroit Indy Lights race.
Kanaan, who won by 0.355 seconds, averaged 85.6 mph in the 36-lap race at Belle Isle.