"This baby just needed to be out front in clean air and it was a rocketship," Gordon said. "It's awesome to be back in Victory Lane." The win gives Gordon the 63rd win of his career and only the second win of the season.
Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's teammate and Hendrick Motorsports teammate, started 26th and lost more ground when he spun out early in the race, but came back to finish second.
It was a typical short track race, with plenty of bumping and banging that produced 15 caution flags and a record 117 laps run under yellow.
The key moment of the day came on lap 405 under caution when Earnhardt, running a close second to Gordon and applying plenty of pressure on the leader, pitted for tires.
"He had a set of tires there we didn't like and they were getting worse and worse," said Tony Eury, Earnhardt's crew chief. "He wasn't going to win the race with those tires."
Earnhardt said after the race " This place is fun to race at, but damn don't wear ya out"
Earnhardt and Newman raced side by side for several laps for 4th place, but Earnhardt car didn't seem to get any grip coming out of the turns where Newman pulled away from him. It was some great racing between the two.
There also was a lot of banged up sheetmetal and some banged up egos, but it was typical Martinsville with 117 caution laps which is a record.
Series leader Matt Kenseth, who came into the race with a 267-point margin over Kevin Harvick and 324 over Earnhardt, finished 13th and saw his lead over Harvick cut to 240 points with four races remaining.
We knew this (race) was our weakest point coming up the rest of the year," the relieved Kenseth said. "Two out of the last four tracks we have coming up we've won at ... so I'm feeling good and ready to go."
Earnhardt remained third, but chopped his margin to 283 going into the Oct. 26 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.