Jun 22, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
Jeff Gordon spent the first few years of his life just a stone’s throw away from Sonoma Raceway, in nearby Vallejo, California.
It was at that same Sonoma track that Gordon began to get an appreciation for what would eventually become his life’s work, that of a race car driver.
And even though he moved to Indiana for his teens and to pursue those racing dreams, Gordon has never forgotten how much of a factor Sonoma played in his development.
It’s a place he’s always enjoyed returning to and, more often than not, he ends up with a good showing – just like Sunday’s runner-up finish in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Gordon, who leads all active Cup drivers with five wins at the twisting and turning road course in California’s wine country, almost made it six triumphs Sunday, but came up just a little bit short to eventual winner Carl Edwards.
Had it not been an uncharacteristic late error by Gordon in the race, he very well may have made it a half-dozen victories, he explained to TNT in a post-race interview.
“With five or six laps to go, I was making some ground up on Carl,” Gordon said on TNT. “I was really good in the fast sections and he was pretty good in the slow sections, so I just happened to hit everything so perfect.
“I just overdrove it going into (turn) four one time and went real wide off and that gave him enough of a gap that I had to close it back in.”
Gordon did an excellent job of closing that gap one last time and appeared he would catch Edwards on the final turn – turn 11 – on the final lap.
Unfortunately for Gordon, Edwards threw the block and rather than run the risk of wrecking out both drivers, Gordon backed off and settled for a still excellent runner-up finish.
“I just couldn’t put enough pressure on him,” Gordon said of Edwards. “I saw him struggling with the grip level, but he drove a clean race, did everything he needed to do.
“That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him. I just drove into 11 as hard as I could, we weren’t good into 11 anyway, he didn’t overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide it and I could get a run underneath him, but overall a great weekend. We had a great car in the race.”
Thanks to his 14th career top-5 at Sonoma (in 22 starts), Gordon remains atop the Sprint Cup standings.
Ironically, Gordon could actually be at 10 wins at Sonoma: he’s finished second now in three of the last four Sprint Cup races there, in addition to two other second-place runs there earlier in his career.
But the veteran driver will take another great run and move forward.
“I love racing here, I love being competitive, leading the points and having a shot at winning races,” Gordon said. “We’re having fun.”
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Apr 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
Ryan Hunter-Reay not satisfied with first top-five finish of 2015.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT
Penske pair still 1-2 after tough afternoon in Barber.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT
Graham Rahal comes up short in best performance in a year.
Apr 26, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT
Newgarden scores first career win at Barber.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:43 PM EDT
We’re halfway at Barber, with Graham Rahal the leader at Lap 45 and pit stops underway.
Apr 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Meeke becomes the first British driver to win in the WRC in 13 years.
Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT
Results from the Indy Lights’ series second race at Barber Motorsports Park
Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Watch the fourth round of the IndyCar season, from Barber Motorsports Park, at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Lotus youngster beats Nyck de Vries in a truncated second race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
What to watch for ahead of Round 4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Marquez undergoes minor surgery on his left hand, and is in doubt for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
Apr 26, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
Mick wins the third and final race of the first ADAC F4 weekend of the year at Oschersleben in Germany.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
45 delegates from the FIA had been attending the first Asia-Pacific Sport Regional Congress in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.
Apr 26, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
The Coca-Cola signage isn’t limited to Scott Dixon’s car this weekend.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT
Second in qualifying a good day at the office for Will Power, as he’s in search of his first win of the year.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT
Davey Hamilton will have a one-off day back behind the wheel of a current day IndyCar, filling in for Townsend Bell at next week’s IndyCar open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:33 PM EDT
Spencer Pigot dominates Indy Lights flag-to-flag in first race of weekend at Barber.
Apr 25, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT
Castroneves bags the pole for IndyCar’s fourth round at Barber.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
A surprise in Spain for Rowland as on-track winner Meindert van Buuren is hit with a time penalty for jumping the start.
- Graham Rahal can’t close deal in runner-up finish at Barber 0
- Josef Newgarden scores his first IndyCar win at Barber (VIDEO) 1
- WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra 0
- What to watch for: IndyCar at Barber (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra) 0
- Michael Schumacher’s son Mick victorious on debut ADAC F4 weekend 1
- IndyCar beats the rain, Castroneves, Penske beats the field in Barber qualifying (VIDEO) 3
- WSR: Rowland wins Formula Renault 3.5 season-opener at Motorland Aragon 0