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Windom Captures Pay Less Little 500; Gordon Comes Up Short

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Story by KEN de la BASTIDE
Photo by David Sink

(May 29, 2011) – Illinois driver Chris Windom passed Eric Gordon with five laps remaining to capture the rain delayed 63rd running of the Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway on Sunday.

Windom wins the Pay Less Little 500 for the first time in only his third career start.

It appeared that Gordon was on his way to a record tenth victory when the caution flag waved on lap 486 for debris on the track.

On the restart Windom with an obviously faster car than Gordon made the crucial pass on lap 495 by diving inside entering turn three.

Windom had to overcome a penalty for passing the pace car late in the race, but things fell his way over the final 50 laps.

“This is unreal,” Windom said. “This is the biggest accomplishment of my career. I don’t have that much experience here, to beat a driver like Eric Gordon is unbelievable.”

Windom said he knew he had to go as fast as I could on the final restart.

“His (Gordon) car was going away and mine was getting better,” he said.

In the chess match that has become the Pay Less Little 500, it appeared pole sitter Aaron Pierce used the right strategy to record his first ever win, but it all went haywire with 68 laps remaining.

At the time Pierce had Gordon and Chris Windom down a lap when the caution flag waved on lap 432 when Kyle Wiegand spun on the back straight after a green flag run of 153 laps.

On the restart Pierce had a noticeable mechanical problem and after getting loose once on the front straight which allowed Gordon and Windom to return to the lead serial
Pierce’s bid for a victory ended on lap 454 when he spun in turn four.

That gave the Gordon a lap lead over Windom, who lost a lap for passing the pace car.

Pierce, who broke the one and four lap qualifying records on Thursday, took the lead on lap 397 when nine-time champion Gordon made his final stop.

Pierce started from the pole and led the first 31 laps before he was passed by Brian Tyler with an inside move entering turn three in traffic.

Tyler led until lap 205 when he made his first stop which gave the lead to Chet Fillip, who led until lap 354 when he pitted. That put Gordon on the point until he pitted which gave the lead to Pierce, whose mount faltered with 46 laps remaining.

Tyler was running third on lap 344 when he slowed and pulled into the infield.

Early in the race survived an incident when on lap 163 and leading the race he bounced off of Fillip on the front straight and traveled a short distance on two wheels, maintaining the lead.

The race was red-flagged on lap 51 when Tom Paterson hopped the wheel of another car on the front straight and flipped several times before landing wheels down in the turn one infield.

Jason Cox was named Herald Bulletin Rookie of the Race for finishing ninth after starting 32nd in the field.

The race was slowed a total of 10 times by cautions for a total of 85 laps. There were six lead changes among five drivers. The race was run in 2 hours and 7 minutes.