Like a Texas gambler, crew chief Alan Gustafson had a choice: Hold his cards or go all in.
He did the latter, electing to put two tires on Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet on the final pit stop.
Gustafson’s gamble paid off handsomely, as Gordon avoided a finish outside the top 10 and posted a seventh-place showing in Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Yeah that was a great gamble,” Gordon said. “Alan made a great call there at the end to take two tires, and that is what got us to seventh.”
Gustafson’s call helped Gordon salvage a decent finish in what was a fight for much of 500 miles.
“We just struggled,” Gordon said. “I’m not really sure where we are missing it. I just had my hands full. We were not able to get the balance just right.
“But we didn’t give up. I’m proud of that. We made it good at one point and then we got off and then we had to kind of start over and got it pretty good there at the end.”
Among the issues Gordon endured was a brake bias adjuster that didn’t work properly and a recurring problem with handling.
“Early on we weren’t great,” Gordon said. “We made some adjustments and got some decent track position. I thought we were going to be pretty good.”
Hendrick Motorsports placed all four of its drivers in the top eight. Jimmie Johnson won for the fifth time in his career on the 1.5-mile oval, his fourth victory in the last six Sprint Cup races at Texas.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, Gordon was seventh and Kasey Kahne finished eighth.
“Texas is tough when everything is working right for you,” Gordon said. “(We were) just trying to get the balance right in it.
“Obviously our teammates have it worked out because all of them were fast. Obviously, we have got some work to do and I have got to figure this package out.
“We struggled and we fought through it and we didn’t give up.”