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CUP: Runnerup Finish Boost For Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon is usually a serious contender to win on NASCAR’s two road courses.

PDF> UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350 - INFINEON RACEWAYLINK> UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350 - INFINEON RACEWAY

This time, at Infineon Raceway, Gordon and his single-car team had to use pit strategy to get to the front. But once they did, Gordon produced a similar result, holding off Kevin Harvick to finish second behind Jimmie Johnson.

It was Gordon’s first top-five finish since he was third in last year’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his best finish since he finished second at Watkins Glen in 2005.

It was a huge boost for Gordon, whose team was 35th in owner points and fighting to maintain a guaranteed starting spot.

“It was obviously a good run for us,” said Gordon, whose team moved up to 32nd in owner points and has a 101-point cushion on 36th. “We came here to win the race, but second place is pretty darn close to winning it.

“My team needs a little bit of morale here and there. This will boost morale back at the shop. I will say that we will come to Watkins Glen guns blazing.”

Gordon started 16th and worked his way into the top 10 early in the race. But he used pit strategy just past the halfway point to put himself in position to crack the top five.

Gordon made his third and final pit stop under caution on lap 66. When most of the leaders started pitting under green 10 laps later, Gordon started climbing through the field.

When a caution flag flew on lap 86 for Joey Logano’s spin, Gordon wound up fourth behind Boris Said, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose.

When Said and Keselowski collided on the restart, Gordon was suddenly third behind Ambrose and Johnson. He inherited second when Ambrose stalled on the track under caution and was penalized for failing to maintain reasonable speed.

He held on to second by holding off a hard-charging Harvick over the final five laps.

“It was going to be edgy to make it from where we did on lap 66 on fuel,” Gordon said. “But we did get enough cautions and we were able to save enough fuel. This guy [Harvick] right here raced me really clean. Thank you, Kevin.

“Kevin and those guys had 10 laps better tires than I did. I was kind of a sitting duck. I'm fortunate enough that him and Jimmie were racing for points and we were able to slide in between them there.”

Gordon had hopes of racing Johnson for the win on the restart with five laps remaining, but didn’t have enough grip on his tires to challenge.

“Before the restart I thought I [had a chance],” Gordon said. “I was trying to anticipate when Jimmie would go. I had 10-lap older tires than the other guys out there. It just buzzed the tires at the restart. I miss‑timed it a little bit and Jimmie got the jump on me.

“If I could have gotten track position, it would have been hard to pass. I'm sure if it was for the win, Kevin would have moved me. For second, I appreciate him giving me a little bit of racing room.”

Gordon was happiest for his team, which has struggled to stay in the top 35 in owner points and had not had a top-10 finish in more than a year.

“On a weekly basis, let's face it right now, we're 34th in points, 33rd in points, wherever we end up,” he said. “It's hard to build morale when you're 33rd, 34th in points. I think this will build us some momentum.

“I believe they'll have confidence going to Watkins Glen that we can actually win that race so we can build some momentum throughout the summer and hopefully have some good runs.”

PDF> UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350 - INFINEON RACEWAYLINK> UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350 - INFINEON RACEWAY

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