Gordon Cements Record Fifth Sprint Cup Series Victory on the Indianapolis Yard of Bricks
INDIANAPOLIS - Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon cemented his record fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory by overpowering teammate Kasey Kahne and Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch during the closing 16 circuits of the 160 lap battle.
Gordon celebrated the 20th anniversary of his inaugural IMS NSCS victory by sailing his iconic No. 24 car across the famous yard of bricks finish line 2.325 seconds ahead of Busch's No. 18 JGR car after disposing of Kahne and his No. 5 car with a Turn 1 pass off the final restart on Lap 144.
"I'm not very good on restarts and I wasn't very good today," Gordon said. "I finally made the restart of my life when it counted most. I don't think there's a greater feeling for a driver and a race team, 'cause that's what it took today, total team effort. I'm exhausted."
Kahne held point for a race-best four times for a race best 70 laps. He was in front of the pack following the final round of green-flag pit stops that ended with 20 laps remaining in the race.
Gordon applied significant pressure on Kahne through the final segments. Ryan Truex's No. 83 car lost power on Lap 140 and unintentionally aided Gordon's cause by bringing out the race's fourth and final caution period.
The No. 24 powered around Kahne's No. 5, which was running low on fuel and racing with dirty tires, off the restart. Kahne slipped back in pack after surrendering positions to Busch and his JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
"I knew we had a great racecar and we just needed to get out front. Once we go into Turn 1, I could hear him (Kahne) getting loose. Once we got clear of him, I was like, I can't believe this is happening. No cautions, no cautions please," Gordon added.
He owns a combined 12 top-five and 17 top-10 series finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He's charted two victories, seven top-five and 14 top-10 results this season and remains in control of the championship lead entering the Aug. 3 event at Pocono Raceway, where he placed eighth this season June 8.
"It's such big race, such an important victory at a crucial point of the season. This is really for all those fans throughout the years and all weekend long saying, 'we believe you can get number five.' We got number five," Gordon analyzed.
The four-time NSCS champion joined Richard Petty and David Pearson as the only series drivers to reach 90 victories.
Hamlin, Kenseth and Team Penske's Joey Logano completed the race top five.
Busch placed second for the second straight and third time in the past four series events this season. He has accumulated one victory and a combined six top-five and nine top-10 finishes this season.
"There was no catching them (the No. 24 team), definitely not. Those guys were really, really fast. The restart situation got the No. 5 car screwed up there, so he wasn't able to stay up," Busch said. "Helping us get our program moving forward a little bit, this was a really big day for JGR and Toyota. I'm proud of the effort to bring all three home in the top five, but still know there's work to do to gain speed. We obviously got beat by speed today. We'll keep goin'."
Kahne placed sixth and advanced two positions in the series standings to 15th with his eighth top-10 finish in the 20th series event of the season. Kahne has six opportunities to earn a victory which would solidify his spot in the 16-driver, 10-race, four-elimination-round Chase for the Sprint Cup that begins Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.
"We had a great Chevy. Looking back, I should've chosen the top, obviously," Kahne said of the final restart. "The inside had more grip in a straight line throughout the race. I had started on both sides. I thought it was the right decision.
"They pretty much let Jeff control that restart. I didn't spin a tire and Jeff was driving by me before we were even at the second red. Either way, he was going to pass me in one and two. Because of that we were able to save fuel and make it. If I beat him, I would've had to race the heck of out him. He was faster than us, so we probably would've finished a lot worse."
Racing returns to our speedway Sept. 19-20 with the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 and the ARCA Racing Series (ARS) Zloop 150.
Single-race tickets, ticket specials, weekend packages and campsites can be purchased through the respective pages of this website, by calling (859) 578-2300 or by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Drive in Sparta, Ky., just off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
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