DARLINGTON, S.C. - Another week, another Hendrick Motorsports victory.
As Jeff Gordon celebrated in Victory Lane yesterday, Denny Hamlin was certain he should have been there instead.
Gordon overcame a leaky radiator and used a gutsy late call in the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington Raceway to race to his third victory of the season. Hendrick has won four straight races, eight of nine overall, and remained perfect in all five events the Car of Tomorrow has been used.
"I can't believe that thing lasted," Gordon said of his motor, which had thick steam streaming out of it for the last hour of the race.
"There's no way that thing should have ever made it."
When it did - even though Gordon gambled and didn't make a final pit stop when most of the field did with 23 laps to go - Gordon won for the third time in four races and maintained a 231-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the Nextel Cup standings.
Rain washed out the race Saturday night and it was rescheduled for yesterday, making it the first NASCAR race run on Mother's Day since 1986.
Hamlin, who led for a race-high 179 laps, had to settle for second after loose lug nuts on a late pit stop cost him a shot at running for the win. He has finished second or third in four COT races, while leading a series-high 563 laps in the five races the car has been used.
"We've got to win a race sooner or later," Hamlin said. "Everybody will be talking about how Hendrick won another race, but this was our race to win."
Johnson, last week's winner, finished third for Hendrick. Ryan Newman was fourth, followed by Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
Because of Saturday's postponement at Darlington, Car of Tomorrow testing scheduled for today and tomorrow at Dover International Speedway has been called off.
INDIANAPOLIS - Al Unser Jr., a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was bumped from the tentative field yesterday, the second of four days of qualifications for the May 27 race.
Unser qualified during an early flurry of activity on the 2.5-mile oval, posting a 10-mile, four-lap average of 220.963 m.p.h. that left him vulnerable to being bumped under the new procedure that limits the number of qualifiers during each of the first three days of time trials to 11.
John Herb knocked Unser out of the field with a run of 221.070 just 30 minutes from the end of the six-hour session.
Herb was bounced out of the field by Buddy Lazier (221.380).
Other qualifiers included Scott Sharp at 223.875, Jeff Simmons at 223.693, Ed Carpenter at 223.495, Manning at 223.471, Buddy Rice at 222.826, Kosuke Matsuura at 222.595, A.J. Foyt IV at 222.413, Vitor Meira at 222.333, Davey Hamilton at 222.327 and Sarah Fisher - joining Danica Patrick in the field - at 221.960.