The first COT restrictor plate race was run today at Talladega.? Dodge drivers dominated poll qualifying taking five of the top six spots with Michael Waltrip getting the poll for the race.? Drivers this week were worried about visibility problems with the COT cars that could cause the big wreck.
Controversial driver Jacques Villeneuve who qualified sixth elected to drop back to the back during pace laps before the start of the race.
The first half of the race ran very smoothly with only limited cautions.? An early caution on lap 17 for John Andretti and his tire problem led to a long green flag run that went straight through green flag pit stops that started around lap 56.? After all the cars have pitted the caution came out on lap 62 for Greg Biffle and David Gilliland spinning out.
Action on the track was two and three wide at the start with it moving to single line racing after a while.
On lap 92 chaser Jeff Burton wound up with a blown engine, left a few car parts on the track and brought out the caution.? ?I?m extremely disappointed?, said Jeff.? He stated that this finishes it on his chances at the championship.
The next chaser to have engine problems and bring out the next caution in the race was Martin Truex Jr. on lap 113.? ?Not sure what happened,? said Truex Jr. ?Car was really really fast.?
With 52 laps left the next DEI engine blows up with Dale Jr. in the car. Winding up with some right front damage from Dale?s car was Dale Jarrett. At that time it was three wide racing for around 10 rows.
At the drop of the green flag chaser Jeff Gordon went to pit road to server his penalty for taking some equipment outside of the box.
With 44 laps to go the big one occurs.? Bobby Labonte losses it and then collects the cars of Robby Gordon, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, and David Reutimann.? Chase drivers of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were also involved.
?Not really sure what happened,? said Bobby Labonte. ?My fault for sure.?? Kyle Busch said the wreck was just a ?product of restrictor plate racing.?? He also said he though Bobby blew a tire and that this race was circled in as a mulligan.
With 35 laps to go the caution comes out again for the Kenny Schrader and his car who blows a tire.
With 30 laps to go it was Tony Stewart in the lead with Ryan Newman in second and Kurt Busch in third. A few more laps go by and in a single, but hard wreck due to a bad tire is Kyle Petty.? He stated that he had some tire problems this week.
With 16 laps to go around the 12 place spot it got into two wide racing. This helped Jimmy Johnson to move to sixth place in a hurry.
With 13 laps to go a medium sized wrecked occurred with Michael Waltrip, Elliott Sadler, Tony Raines, and Greg Biffle.? Michael stated it was tire problems and that it was fun to be up in front again,
With 8 laps left the green flag dropped with Rayn Newman in the lead of the race.? At the end of the sixth lap Jimmy Johnson with help from Jeff Gordon from behind pushes Jimmy into the lead of the race. On the final lap it got three wide with Jeff Gordon moving up top to get the lead of the race with help from Tony Stewart and then get the win of the race.? It was the only lap he led all race.
Jeff Gordon stated that when it got three wide it was his opportunity and that he thought he could not win with this package.
Jimmy Johnson stated that he was defending the bottom of the race track and that Jeff got a strong enough of a run to push him by me.
In points Jeff Gordon now leads teammate Jimmy Johnson by nine points. Clint Bowyer is still in third place but is now 63 points back.