TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Jeff Gordon surged past teammate Jimmie Johnson on the final lap at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday to become the career victory leader at restrictor-plate tracks.
Gordon, who scored his 12th victory on a plate track, used the win to move back on top of the points standings with six races remaining in the Chase for the championship. He leads Johnson by nine points.
But the four-time series champion had a bizarre race by his standards, electing to run near the back of the pack to avoid the projected hairy racing conditions created by the Car of Tomorrow.
Gordon had a horrible qualifying effort -- he started 34th and never tried to move too far to the front, waiting to join the top 15 until the race neared its completion. With six laps to go, he was in the middle of a Hendrick Motorsports charge that saw Johnson, Gordon and Casey Mears surge to the front of the pack.
Johnson finished second, Dave Blaney was third in the best finish this year for a Toyota driver. Title contender Denny Hamlin was fourth and was followed by Ryan Newman, who was leading late in his Dodge, and Mears.