The first Saturday night special for the NEXTEL drivers occurred tonight. The COT returns after a one-race absence. Jeff Gordon won the poll for round three of the COT in Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Jeff Burton starting back in 31st spot stated he had a long way to go.
Jeff Gordon led the first 27 laps in this race then Denny Hamlin was able to pass Jeff for the lead of the race. Green flag racing continues lap 37 when the first of many debris caution came out.
The green flag drops and one lap later the caution comes flying out for the spinning car of David Ragan that collects David Stremme. Also involved in this caution were the cars of Casey Mears and Scott Riggs. All the cars would continue in the race.
The green flag drops again and we get a long green flag run with Denny still in the lead until the second debris caution comes out on lap 98. In second place for a whole bunch of laps before the caution came out was Kevin Harvick. During the pit stop Denny Hamlin gets a penalty for entering pit road too fast sending him back to around 30th.
Kevin Harvick takes over the lead of the race while Denny Hamlin starts to move up the field. By lap 118 he was in 21st spot and then by lap 143 his is back to 15th. At lap 150 the third caution for debris occurs.
Harvick again had the lead at the drop of the green flag, but Tony Stewart quickly passed him for the lead of the race. During this green flag run Denny Hamlin gets stuck in 12th place. Green flag racing continues until lap 212 for yet another debris caution. During this pit stop Tony Stewart just barely beats Jeff Gordon out on pit road.
With 75 laps left in the race it is Tony Stewart in the lead with Jeff Gordon in second. Hamlin is stuck in 11th.
With 50 laps to go nothing has changed in the top two spots, but just moving into third place is Matt Kenseth. By this time Denny has finally moved up into the top 10.
Around 35 laps left in the race the first green flag pit stops of the day occur.
With 29 laps to go the second wreck of the night occurs when the cars of Dave Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. get together. At the time of the wreck Jeff Gordon gave up second place to pit. Tony Stewart wins the race off pit road, but Gordon is the leader with the ultra lucky pit stop timing. Denny restarts in fifth.
With 14 laps to go Tony Stewart forces some three wide action with Truex Jr. and takes the lead of the race, but it only last for one lap as Jeff retakes the lead again.
With nine laps left Denny Hamlin moves into third place. With six to go Gordon opens up a nice sized lead over Tony and cruises to his first ever win at Phoenix and ties Dale Earnhardt for 76 wins
“Never had to drive so hard for a win,” said Gordon in victory lane. “To get 76 is incredible.”
“I was trying,” said Denny Hamlin who finished in third. He wanted to win this for the people that died this week at Virginia Tech.
"A little bit of a struggle for us,” said Matt Kenseth who finished in fifth.
With the win Gordon bumps he lead to 74 points over Jeff Burton in second place. Burton finished the race in 13th place. Mark Martin moves up a spot to 10th.who finished in 12th.