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Sunday, November 11
Gordon finishes 28th at Miami
By Jerry Bonkowski

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The champagne remains on ice, the celebratory streamers and balloons are back in the box, and Jeff Gordon still hasn't clinched the Winston Cup championship.

While it was anticipated Gordon would wrap up his fourth Cup title in Sunday's Pennzoil Freedom 400, he failed in that bid. Gordon suffered his second consecutive poor performance in as many races, finishing 28th.

"I got into (Jeff Green) on pit road and it bent the left front fender up a little bit," Gordon said. "It's just like Charlotte earlier in May (when he started 2nd in the Coca-Cola 600, only to finish 29th) -- it just ruined our day. It put us back in the back.

"We fixed the fender, but the car was just never the same. It's a shame because we really had something for them, especially on the long runs."

Being relegated to the middle of the pack left Gordon little room to maneuver, let alone work his way back towards the front.

"The way the guys drive back there is a lot different," he said. "They're just battling real hard for every spot and you just get bumped and banged around a lot. You just can't make your way to the front. And then we just got so loose. I don't know if it was the track or whether it was that fender."

Gordon leads Ricky Rudd by 305 points with two races left on the schedule (Atlanta and the rescheduled race that will wrap up the season two weeks from now in Loudon, N.H.). He needs to earn at least 66 points in the next two races to be crowned champ.

Best case championship-clinching scenario for Gordon: He can wrap up the title at Atlanta if he finishes 32nd or better.

Worst case scenario: Gordon can still clinch the championship by merely qualifying for the last two races.

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Pennzoil Freedom 400 results

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