Jeff Gordon Earns Third Win At Michigan International Speedway

by August 17, 2014

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, Mich. – For the third time this season, Jeff Gordon went to victory after leading 68 laps in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

The win is Gordon’s 91st of his career, and it’s the first season since 2011 that he has won three races. So far this year, Gordon won at Kansas Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sunday’s win was his third career at Michigan International Speedway, as well.

“Everybody who is building the chassis and the bodies and the cars back at the shop; the engines are amazing,” Gordon said. “And then, I’ve got to give so much credit to Alan Gustafson and his crew. This guy is a great leader. I knew that he had this in him and he’s just been showing it by bringing great race cars every weekend. Today it was more than just a great race car, it took the whole team effort and making great calls and of course, I had a good restart again. That was fun. And these guys; they’re just awesome. Rick Hendrick is here and I love celebrating wins with him.”

The first caution of the day came out on lap five when Kyle Busch hit the wall, resulting in a 39th place finish. The good thing for Busch is that he has officially clinched a spot in the 2014 Chase.

On the restart following the competition caution, Danica Patrick got loose underneath Regan Smith and in front of the pack causing the only multi-car accident. With nowhere to go, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Just Allgaier, Martin Truex Jr. JJ Yeley and Travis Kvapil were collected.

“I’m not really sure,” Bayne said. “I couldn’t really see much in front of me. I was following the 7 car or whoever was in front of me and the next thing I know three cars slid down in front of us, I got on the brakes hard and couldn’t get it slowed down in time. It wasn’t much of a hit but it doesn’t take much to damage these things.”

Rookie of the Year contender, Kyle Larson had a day he’d certainly like to forget. While leaving pit road, he obtained damage on the left front after making contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and then on lap 98, the caution came out when his car hit the wall in turn four and ignited into a ball of flames. Larson walked away, but his car was absolutely destroyed.

“I’m fine,” Larson said. “It’s just a shame we were up there in the points battle so we have to work even harder know with our Target Chevy to try and get in the Chase. It sucks we had that deal happen on pit road it really killed our day. Just ended up blowing a right-front (tire) there. I thought we had a car capable of winning the race for sure. Before that competition caution we were really fast. I could pass people no problem and was catching the two in front of us. On pit road me and the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got together. It messed the tow up and hurt the body too. Had a lot of work to do, but the Target team worked hard to get it back out there. Those right-front’s blowing do not feel good.”

During green flag pit stops, Brad Keselowski who was leading had a right front tire go down that put his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion hard into the wall in turn one, bringing out the caution on lap 169. Keselowski was able to battle back for an impressive eighth place finish.

“That was a good finish to come home eighth after hitting the wall,” Keselowski said. “We had some pretty good adversity there with the blown tire. I am not sure why that happened. We didn’t have any indication of it and there was no real reason to. I was about the least aggressive you could be and did a run before that where I was more aggressive and didn’t even come close to showing signs of an issue. I don’t know. I think we just got a bad tire. It is hard to say but the team did a hell of a job to overcome that and get an eighth place finish out of what should have been probably a 25th or 30th place finish.”

On the restart, Brian Vickers got loose underneath Alex Bowman in turn four. Luckily no one made any additional contact, but Vickers’ splitter dug deep into the grass and mud. Vickers finished 19th. He’s one of the drivers on the outside looking in for a Chase berth.

Following the restart, the final caution came out when Kurt Busch nailed the outside wall in the exit of turn two while battling Jeff Gordon for the lead. Eventually, the damage was too much to endure and Busch’s car began to break apart, bringing out the caution on lap 180. Kurt Busch is another driver on Sunday who clinched a spot in this year’s Chase.

“I was going for the win,” Busch said. “I think we’ve finished third four times this year, and I didn’t want to make that five – I wanted the win. I knew we were in a good position as far as being locked into the chase, so I went for it. I’m really proud of the Haas Automation guys and the job they did today. We had a car that I felt was capable of winning, and I went for it.”

Jeff Gordon captured the victory after getting ahead of Joey Logano on a late race restart with 17 laps. Logano started on the high side, but Gordon powered his way on the low side. Trying to get the lead back, Logano dropped all the way back to fourth, ending his chances for a victory.

“That last restart was it,” Gordon said. “We had the car to win. Our car was amazing. But whoever got out in front had such a huge advantage. I got a good restart and Kevin (Harvick) for some reason, wasn’t getting good restarts, so Joey was sort of out there by himself and I was able to get to his quarter. When I got to his quarter, I dragged him back and I was able to shoot to the bottom and get by. But he made a heck of an effort. I thought he was going to get back by me; he almost did. And I just needed a couple of laps for my tires to come in and all of a sudden we were out front and setting sail and the checkered flag was waving. This is just unbelievably awesome.”

Kevin Harvick tried to chase Gordon down in the closing laps, but he had to settle for second. Despite having a dominate car and leading 86 laps, Joey Logano finished third. Paul Menard finished fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Following the race, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman had words after the two drivers battled each other hard in the closing laps. Johnson finished eighth, while Newman finished 11th. Ryan Newman is one of the drivers trying to earn a spot in the Chase.

“Oh, it was just normal ‘Ryan Newman stuff’,” Johnson said. “Anybody who has watched this sport long enough or has been in a race car out there understands the frustration that comes along with racing Ryan. Just normal Ryan stuff. And I don’t want to take away anything from what this awesome race team did. Granted, we put ourselves in a bad position with the shift lever breaking off and was able to rally back and get ourselves a good finish. It was unfortunate we didn’t get any further up in the field, but we still salvaged a lot today.”

Next on the schedule, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to what is known as “The Last Great Colosseum,” Bristol Motor Speedway. On Saturday, August 23, the race will be live on ABC, Performance Racing Network (PRN) and NASCAR on Sirius XM at 7:30 p.m. will be there covering all of the action.

Pure Michigan 400 Results:
1.) #24 Jeff Gordon
2.) #4 Kevin Harvick
3.) #22 Joey Logano
4.) #27 Paul Menard
5.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6.) #15 Clint Bowyer
7.) #11 Denny Hamlin
8.) #2 Brad Keselowski
9.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
10.) #16 Greg Biffle
11.) #31 Ryan Newman
12.) #9 Marcos Ambrose
13.) #47 AJ Allmendinger
14.) #1 Jamie McMurray
15.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16.) #5 Kasey Kahne
17.) #13 Casey Mears
18.) #10 Danica Patrick
19.) #55 Brian Vickers
20.) #43 Aric Almirola
21.) #38 David Gilliland
22.) #3 Austin Dillon
23.) #99 Carl Edwards
24.) #34 David Ragan
25.) #26 Cole Whitt
26.) #23 Alex Bowman
27.) #36 Reed Sorenson
28.) #98 Josh Wise
29.) #40 Landon Cassill
30.) #83 JJ Yeley
31.) #41 Kurt Busch
32.) #32 Travis Kvpail
33.) #37 Dave Blaney
34.) #33 Alex Kennedy
35.) #66 Joe Nemechek
36.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.
37.) #14 Jeff Burton
38.) #20 Matt Kenseth
39.) #18 Kyle Busch
40.) #7 Michael Annett
41.) #21 Trevor Bayne
42.) #51 Justin Allgaier
43.) #42 Kyle Larson