Gordon moving up

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Jeff Gordon╩came into╩Kansas Speedway╩promising to “go for broke” in pursuit of a victory, and was in contention until fuel mileage cost him.

Gordon came up three spots short in Sunday’s race. Even so, he gained ground in the Chase standings and now sits 18 points out of the 10th-place position that would guarantee him a spot.

Gordon, who started 22nd, moved into contention early in the race and was in second when he pitted with 19 laps to go. There were no late cautions and Gordon wound up fourth.

“We were just trying to maintain second and see what the pit strategy was going to be,” said Gordon, who moved up from 16th to 13th in the points race.

“We played it to the best that we possibly could. If I hadn’t been quite so free, I might have been able to get to third. But all-in-all, a great top-five and a great day.”

There are two wild-card spots in the Chase, a new wrinkle this year, that will go to the drivers outside the top 10 with the most winsčproviding they are in the top 20 in points.

HOT LAPS:╩Carl Edwards╩joked with his crew over the radio about wanting a cup of coffee to warm up, but his fellow Sprint Cup drivers weren’t buying it in the afternoon heat.

“Nobody loves it,” race winner╩Brad Keselowski╩said. “Some people will tell you they love it just so they look tough.”

Temperatures hovered in the mid-90s throughout the afternoon at Kansas Speedway, according to the National Weather Service. Even with ice bags, insulation and high-tech cooling systems, it got a good deal hotter inside the cars.

Keselowski, for example, came into Victory Lane with a cockpit temperature of 140 degrees.

Denny Hamlin, who finished third, likened the experience to sitting in a sauna.

“All these cars are completely sealed off,” Hamlin said. “We’ve got our window nets now to where they pretty much seal the left side of the car, so there’s no air getting in or out of the car. So it’s just extremely hot. Your feet are just boiling throughout the day.”

FANS NEEDING FANS: The heat likely took a toll on attendance, track president Pat Warren said, but the first of two races at Kansas this year still drew a crowd.

NASCAR said 80,000 fans showed up at the track, which seats 73,000 in the grandstands with space for 10,000 in the infield. A number of the no-shows were people who had bought tickets.

“It was a little warmer than we would have liked for the fans,” he said. “At any given point in the race, when I was in the grandstands, there were several thousand people trying to get out of the heat under the grandstands. That’s not ideal. As someone who runs a racetrack, you want people to be able to enjoy the race and sit in their seats.”