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Jeff Gordon crashes at Watkins Glen while trying to pass early in the Cup race

Jeff Gordon has crashed early in the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International.

The four-time Cup champion slammed the guard rails on lap 15 of the 90-lap race, going off course while looking to pass Denny Hamlin. Gordon had pitted early after giving up several spots because of a car that was not handling well.

Gordon is a four-time winner at Watkins Glen. He entered the race in ninth place in the standings and momentum on his side. He has been content to pile up the points instead of risking a wreck going for a victory.

Out of the top 20 earlier in the season, he surged in the standings with his second-place showing at Pocono last weekend, finishing behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne.