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Johnson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. Earnhardt continued his rebirth with a sixth-place finish. It capped a great day for Hendrick Motorsports -- first, fourth and sixth.
Gordon first won at Pocono in 1996. He won again in 1997 and 1998, then a rain-shortened race in 2007.
He was helped Sunday once some of the early contenders fell off. Denny Hamlin, who led early and has four wins here, ran into tire woes and dropped back to 19th. Carl Edwards lost his grip on the points lead -- his 40-point lead was sliced to six -- when a bad engine knocked him out early. He finished 37th.
Once those two were out of contention, the 500-mile race belonged to Gordon. The Busch brothers tried to catch him, but just didn't have enough in the end.
"I'm giving it all I've got and I just can't close the gap," Kurt Busch said.
Gordon hit a rough patch after his Phoenix victory -- including a 36th at Las Vegas and a 39th at Richmond -- but a change in the Chase format this year put an added emphasis on wins. That stamps Gordon as a contender for that fifth title.
He's in great shape thanks to regular workouts after a creaky back a few years ago made him consider retirement. Gordon still has the fire to compete and poked fun at all the questions that made it seem like the end was near.
When all the pieces are in place, Gordon feels, "I'm as good as I've ever been."
"The things that we've talked about and believe in are starting to come true," Gordon said.
Gordon was behind the wheel this week for the 2-hour drive from his New York City apartment to the Poconos.
He said he loves it any time he can get himself to the track.
No doubt, he loves it even more when he can park in Victory Lane.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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