NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Jeff Gordon, who won the inaugural race back in 1994, scored his fifth Brickyard 400 victory at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, tying Michael Schumacher for the most wins at the track. Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One champion, won five out of six United States Grand Prix events on the 2.5 mile layout.
Gordon certainly displayed the best way to celebrate “Jeff Gordon Day” at Indianapolis. On Friday, the mayor of Indianapolis declared July 27 “Jeff Gordon Day.” It was Gordon’s first win at Indianapolis since 2004.
“I’m not very good on restarts and wasn’t very good today,” Gordon said. “And, I finally made the restart of my life when it counted the most.”
“Once we got down into (turns) 1 and 2, I could hear him (Kahne) get loose,” Gordon said. “I was kinda glad he took the inside because I really wanted the outside.”
With his second win of the 2014 season, Gordon clinches his spot in the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup field. The win marked Gordon’s 90th win in the premier series, which makes him the third driver with 90 plus victories, joining David Pearson (105) and Richard Petty (200).
On a lap 144 restart, Gordon was lined up on the outside of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. It was Gordon who had the better restart, as Kahne got loose in the center of the corner, nearly spinning Gordon in the process. However, nothing was going to deter Gordon’s drive for history.
The entire entourage of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers finished inside the top five. Kyle Busch finished second, Denny Hamlin finished third, and Matt Kenseth finished fourth. Joey Logano rounded out the top five as the highest finisher for Team Penske.
“There was no catching him (Gordon),” Kyle Busch said. “He was really fast obviously. I think this was a really big day for JGR and Toyota, and I am proud of the effort of bringing all three home in the top five.”
Kahne, who slipped to sixth after running out of fuel on the final circuit, admitted he let Gordon control the restart. “Looking back, I probably should have chosen the top (line) on the restart,” Kahne said. “Either way, he was going to pass me in 1 and 2.”
Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10.
Kevin Harvick was viewed by many to be the car to beat, clinching his first Brickyard 400 pole since his win in 2003. Harvick led the opening circuit, but yielded the lead to Jeff Gordon, who passed Harvick on the inside in turn one.
There were no major incidents, minus a couple of cases of misfortune. Trevor Bayne got loose and struck the outside wall, which caused a flat right-rear tire. Bayne appeared to have it saved, but he spun back to the inside and slammed the guardrail. Danica Patrick was the other, breaking a rear-gear exiting the pit lane. Patrick, 2005 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year, did a mini-burnout during the duration of the incident. Due to the unknown about what was going on, NASCAR threw a caution.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series will visit Pocono Raceway for the final time in 2014 for the GoBowling.com 400. (Aug. 3, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)