TALLADEGA, Ala. - Jeff Gordon successfully defended his Aaron's 499 victory from last year when he took the win Sunday in the showcase event of the 2005 Aaron's Dream Weekend. Gordon led all but 49 laps of the 188-lap race with his No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet, which was clearly the strongest car all day. It was Gordon's 72nd career win and his fourth at NASCARs Most Competitive Track in a race that produced 33 lead changes among 16 leaders and concluded in a green-white-checkered finish.
"What an incredible racecar. This DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet was just amazing today," Gordon said. "On restarts, under green I'd fall back and come up through there. Once I got a little shove and got momentum I could just drive by guys and I don't know if I've ever had a racecar like that. So my hat is off to this entire team at Hendrick Motorsports that put so much effort into these restrictor plate races. This is a special one, especially with having Star Wars on board with us. It was a lot of fun today."
Tony Stewart charged his No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet to his fourth second place finish in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Talladega, which enabled him to move eight places up in the standings to sixth.
"We just got started and tried to stay up front and got in a line that worked its way to the back but just didn't get worked up over it. We were just worried about getting the car driving good. We were a little tight at the beginning on the exit of the corners and we just kept working with Zippy and the guys and kept making adjustments," Stewart said. "At the beginning of the race when we got shuffled to the back was the only time I just laid back, which is a little uncharacteristic of me. The rest of the day I was pretty much just jousting and figuring out what I could do to get to the front. I pretty much raced really hard all day."
2003 Talladega fall race winner Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet, finished third - his best finish since that win two years ago.
"When I got the lead it was just real good teamwork with other guys. Jeff had the best car; his car was way faster. I started pushing Tony on the last lap at the start/finish lap and pushed him all the way to Turn 3 and I kept waiting for us to pull out," Waltrip said. "I couldn't see anything; I was just pushing Tony and I thought 'Any minute now, we are going to pull out on Jeff.' Any time you have two guys working that hard like that together and can't even touch him - he just had a better car today than we had. I am real proud of my team and real proud of Tony (Eury) Jr. and Richie Gilmore."
Finishing fourth was Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge.
"I just want to thank all my guys," Mayfield said. "They have been working really hard to get our speedway program where it needs to be and we were good at Daytona and had a top 10 run going there and then had a tire going down. We just survived and showed our program has stepped up another notch and we're going from here."
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge finished fifth.
"We've had really fast cars at speedways, but this is probably one of the best cars we've had though and it is really nice to put it all together," McMurray said.
Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Engines and Transmissions Dodge, was the highest finishing Raybestos® Rookie of the race.
With the conclusion of the Aaron's 499, it is now time to make sure there's a spot saved for you this fall at Talladega! Tickets to the UAW Ford 500 Weekend Sept. 29-Oct. 2 are going fast and are available by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com, or by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.