Gordon passes Kahne on late restart to win Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS — The NASCAR star nicknamed "Four Time" is now "Five Time" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jeff Gordon became the first five-time NASCAR winner at Indy, snatching the lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on a restart with 17 laps remaining and holding on for his second Sprint Cup victory this season and the 90th of his career.
A win in Sunday's 21st running of the Brickyard completed a nice bookend for the four-time series champion, who won the inaugural Cup event at Indianapolis in 1994.
"I'm not very good on restarts and wasn't very good today," Gordon said. "I finally made the restart of my life when it counted most.
"Once we got down into (turns) 1 and 2, I could hear (Kahne) getting loose. I've got to thank him for racing me clean. He's such a good guy.
"I cannot believe this just happened. I was trying so hard with 10 to go not (to) focus on the crowd, trying not to let it get to me. It's such a big race, such an important victory. You can't help it, your emotions take over."
It was the first win at the Brickyard since 2004 for Gordon, who lived in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., while racing sprint cars as a teenager.
"I told him this morning, this is your day," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "He's been so good on the long runs at every track. He gets around this place so well. For him to break that tie is pretty special. We're a little bit older. It's a great win. This is his home track. I remember the first one how good it felt. This one feels just as good."
Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet made it 12 consecutive victories at the Brickyard for Chevy. The win was also the 225th career win for Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR's premier series.
"It's just unbelievable. I've wanted to win this race my whole life," said crew chief Alan Gustafson. "Jeff was so good all day and he made it happen. This place is so special; this is the one, the one for me."
Kahne admitted afterward he let Gordon control the restart.
"Either way, he was going to pass me in 1 and 2. Looking back, I probably should have picked the top (line) on the restart. I would have loved to win the Brickyard."
Kyle Bush finished second ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. Joey Logano was fifth.
"There was no catching (Gordon)," Busch said. "He was really fast obviously. I think this was a really big day for JGR and Toyota, and I'm proud of the effort of bringing all three home in the top five."
Kahne, who was seeking his first win to sew up a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth, was sixth.
Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10.
Harvick started on the pole but led only the first lap before yielding first to Gordon, who led the next 20 laps.
Logano led the next 10 laps after he was the only driver electing not to pit during a competition caution. That triggered a plethora of strategy calls and a flurry of pit stops under green during the next 20 laps.
When the cycle was completed, Harvick went back to the point on Lap 55. After a brief stint in the lead by Hamlin (who had pitted out of sequence but was burned by a green-flag stop in which his fuel tank wasn't filled), Kahne led 68 of the next 71 laps before Gordon pounced on the final restart.
Danica Patrick was among those who suffered misfortune when her No. 10 Chevrolet apparently broke an axle leaving the pits. She spent nearly 30 laps in the garage for repairs before returning to the track.
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