Sports Outside the Beltway

Jeff Gordon Gets 77th Win, Passes Dale Earnhardt

Jeff Gordon got his 77th win today at Talladega, passing Dale Earnhardt on the career victories list.

Jeff Gordon Photo Passes Dale Earnhardt With Victory 77 As beer cans bounced around his car, Jeff Gordon crossed the finish line Sunday for win No. 77 — breaking a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt on NASCAR’s career victory list. It was only fitting that it happened at Talladega Superspeedway, where Earnhardt — who would have been 56 on Sunday — won 10 times in his Cup career.

But it was anticlimactic and confusing, ending under caution to leave Gordon unsure if he’d actually won and taken over sixth place on the wins list. “Is it over?” he radioed his crew. “Is it over? Is it official?”

Nobody knew after two separate accidents on the first lap of a three-lap shootout to the finish froze the field and had NASCAR scrambling to make sense of the finish.

Gordon, who was 14th on a restart with 10 laps to go, stormed to the lead a second before NASCAR called a caution after David Reutimann’s engine failed and dumped oil all over the track. It set up a three-lap sprint to the finish, but NASCAR makes only one attempt to complete it. If caution comes out, the race instantly ends. So when Elliott Sadler bumped the back of Greg Biffle to trigger a wreck, the race was effectively over.

But Tony Stewart was knocked into the wall far ahead of that accident and went spinning down the track into the inside wall. He was fuming as the field passed by him under caution, angrily gesturing at Jamie McMurray.

The fans, meanwhile, figured out that Gordon, who tied Earnhardt last week in Phoenix, was the victor and reacted with the shower of beer cans.

It’s an impressive achievement but NASCAR needs to fix this rule, pronto. The same thing happened at Daytona this year

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