Chase drivers Gordon, Busch crash early at Texas

Fort Worth, TX ( - Jeff Gordon's hopes of winning the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship took a big hit when he crashed in the early going of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Gordon was running in 12th on lap 74 when his left-front tire went flat, causing him to make contact with the wall. His No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet suffered significant damage, forcing him to head to the garage for repairs.

"I just know the left-front went down as I was going down the front straightaway," Gordon said. "I felt it before I got there, but I just couldn't get it slowed down enough. The wind was so strong that the car was doing funky things down the straightaways. So I don't know if that was a slow leak or if it just went all of the sudden."

One week ago, Gordon won his first race of the season at Martinsville Speedway and moved up from fifth to third in the Chase point standings. He came to Texas 27 points behind Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, who shared the lead.

"It's unfortunate, and it's definitely going to hurt," Gordon added.

Kyle Busch also crashed into the wall when he experienced a tire issue on lap 57. Busch, who entered this race fifth in points (-36), had damage to his right side, but his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team was able to make repairs in the pits during the caution to get him back out on the track.

Tire wear has been a concern at this fast 1.5-mile racetrack throughout the weekend. Busch cut his right-rear tire and made contact with the wall just past the halfway point in Saturday's Nationwide Series race here.