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Three in top 10, but still no win for JGR

Three in top 10, but still no win for JGR

Three in top 10, but still no win for JGR

CONCORD, N.C. - Joe Gibbs endured some mixed emotions Sunday night. On the one hand, he watched second-year driver J.J. Yeley gamble on fuel and be rewarded with a second-place finish. On the other hand, he saw that gamble by six teams steal yet another potential victory from Tony Stewart.

So while all three of Joe Gibbs Racing's drivers finished in the top 10, the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway became yet another race that slipped from Stewart's grasp this season. He's led the most laps and crashed while in front, he's had things like fuel-pump cables sideline his efforts and now, on a night when he was leading when he pitted with eight laps to go, he finished sixth.

"If we didn't have an opportunity to win it, then I would've said that sixth place and leading laps was awesome," Stewart's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, said. "But sitting where we're at right now, it seems like everything is stacked against us. There's probably four or five [races] we could've won easily this year and things just didn't go our way.

"This team's been through it before and if we continue to run as good as we do, we'll be there at the end of the year and hopefully get our wins when we need them the most."

Teammate Denny Hamlin took the lead a lap after Stewart pitted, but he too had to give up position to head in for fuel.

"[It's] very frustrating," he said of having to pit so close to the end of the race.

And then there was Yeley, one of those non-pitters who turned a top run into an outstanding night. Yeley earned his Cup career best finish in the race and is now 15th in the standings after gaining five spots. He hovers just 59 points behind the 12th and deciding spot in the Chase For The Nextel Cup.

"I'm just thrilled," he said.

So there sat Gibbs, the team owner handling a top evening, but one that could have shifted even more in his favor.

As thrilled as he was for Yeley and his team, he must have felt for Stewart, who continues to seek his first win of the year.

"I'm real happy for [sponsor] Interstate and J.J.," Gibbs said. "You look at something like that where they just fought and fought and fought and I think that jumped them up to 15th in points. So, I'm really happy for them.

"As bad as I feel for the 20 car [of Stewart], we're still moving in the right direction in points and everything. I felt like it was the best car. You hate to lose the race when you have the best car, but I think we did the smart thing, because we felt like we were going to be short [on fuel] to come in."

In the end, though, Gibbs had to admit that having a 600-mile race that resulted in all three of his cars being in the top 10 was quite an accomplishment.

"Everybody had to hang tough and to have three cars in the top 10 was a big night for us," he said.

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