Gordon Kisses The Bricks On Jeff Gordon Day

by July 27, 2014

Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the fifth time in his career, Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 at the speedway 20 years ago back in 1994, and on Sunday, he led 40 lap en route to the victory on “Jeff Gordon Day” in Indianapolis. The win is Gordon’s second of the season, 90th of his career. He won at Kansas Speedway back in May. With the win, 42-year old Gordon has now clinched a spot in this year’s Chase.

Throughout the day, there were no multi-car accidents. The competition caution flew on lap 22, followed by a broken axel on Danica Patrick’s car that brought out the caution once again on lap 69.

“We looked at everything and it looks like the launch was fine,” Patrick said. “It just one of those things. It’s too bad and these things never happen when you’re having a bad day (laughs). We were having a good day. It’s disappointing and the GoDaddy guys built me a really good car. Hendrick gave me great horsepower. We were the fastest car out there at times. We qualified better and had a good car for the race, it just didn’t end the way we wanted it too. The good thing is, I get to come back to Indy and that makes me happy.”

The only crash came on lap 98 when Trevor Bayne spun in turn three and hit the inside guardrail.

“I had a right-rear tire go down getting into turn three,” Bayne said. “I thought I felt it about a half-a-lap sooner, but just didn’t have time to check it out. The spotters are on the other side of the race track, so they can’t tell what’s going on. It let go getting into turn three and I had it saved off the fence and then the right-rear tire cut the brake line so I couldn’t get it stopped by the time I hit the inside guard rail. It just stinks for our team because we had a decent car, decent enough that when we got track position we could hold on to it. We were running top-20 and had a chance to do even better than that.”

On lap 140, the caution flew for the final time when Ryan Truex was too slow on the track. The field got the green with 17 laps to go, and on the restart, Jeff Gordon took the lead and never looked back.

“I’m not very good on restarts and wasn’t very good today,” Gordon said. “I finally made the restart of my life today when it counted most. I knew we had a great race car. We just needed to get out front. Kasey (Kahne) kind of hung back and I kind of got a little ahead of him and I had to back up and was able to stay on his quarter panel and once we got down into (Turns) 1 and 2, I could hear him get loose. I was kind of glad he took the inside because I really wanted the outside.

“Man, it was; and I’ve got to thank him. He raced me awesome and clean because it could have gotten real ugly down there. Once I got clear of him I was like, I can’t believe this is happening now. No caution; please no caution now. I’ve got to thank Axalta. We could not do it without them. AARP, Drive to End Hunger, Pepsi, Valvoline, Chevrolet; gosh I cannot believe that this just happened.”

Finishing second was Kyle Busch. He said, “I don’t think anybody had anything for the 24 (Jeff Gordon). It seemed like anybody that he got behind he was able to pass those guys. At this place aero situations are so difficult that he could handle through it and pass guys in the long run. His car was really good today and that proved just being able to get out there so far and then he was just riding. I was trying to save my stuff so the guys behind me didn’t catch me. It was a great day for Joe Gibbs Racing here finishing two, three, four — real proud of that and having the Snickers Camry come home second means a lot to our guys and looking forward to the next few weeks.”

Denny Hamlin, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate finished third on Sunday. Hamlin said, “Well, the thing is — we passed all the cars because our strategy got blown out when we didn’t get our car full. If it all worked out, we were going to have a 15 second lead with enough fuel to make it. We were sitting really, really pretty to win this race — just didn’t get it full on that second to last stop. So, we had to make an extra stop and that put us back and we just battled our way back up to the top-three. We had a fast car. That’s all you can say, we had a car that was capable of winning.”

Kasey Kahne led 70 laps, most of any driver on Sunday, but he had to settle for a sixth place finish.

“We had a great Time Warner Cable Chevy. Looking back, I should have chosen the top (lane) obviously; but I pretty much let Jeff (Gordon) control that last restart,” Kahne said. “I took off and never spun a tire. And the inside had been more grip; in a straight line throughout the race. And I had started on both sides. So I thought I made the right decision. I didn’t spin a tire and Jeff was driving by me like before we were even at the second red. But either way, he was going to pass me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“So looking back, I probably should have chosen the top and that would have put us in a better place. But we ended up sixth. Because of that, I was able to save fuel and make it. If I had beat him, I would have had to race the heck out of him. He was faster than I was. So, we probably would have finished a lot worse. So, I guess for points it was good. I would have loved to win at the Brickyard. We had a good car. I thought I gave it all I had. The team gave it all they had and we just came up a little short.”

Jeff Gordon continues to lead the driver point standings. The only change within the top-10 is that Kyle Busch moved up two positions to sixth in points, and Carl Edwards fell two spots to eighth in the standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Pocono Raceway for the GoBowling.com 400 on Sunday, August 3. Coverage of the event will be live on ESPN, Motor Racing Network (MRN) and NASCAR on Sirius XM at 1 p.m. EST Sunday afternoon.

Brickyard 400 Top-10 Results:
1.) #24 Jeff Gordon
2.) #18 Kyle Busch
3.) #11 Denny Hamlin
4.) #20 Matt Kenseth
5.) #22 Joey Logano
6.) #5 Kasey Kahne
7.) #42 Kyle Larson
8.) #4 Kevin Harvick
9.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10.) #3 Austin Dillon

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top-16 Point Standings:
1.) #24 Jeff Gordon
2.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -24
3.) #2 Brad Keselowski -51
4.) #20 Matt Kenseth -56
5.) #48 Jimmie Johnson -89
6.) #18 Kyle Busch -108
7.) #31 Ryan Newman -111
8.) #99 Carl Edwards -114
9.) #22 Joey Logano -126
10.) #15 Clint Bowyer -140
11.) #11 Denny Hamlin -145
12.) #4 Kevin Harvick -152
13.) #42 Kyle Larson -155
14.) #3 Austin Dillon -158
15.) # Kasey Kahne -162
16.) #27 Paul Menard -166