It came down to a late race restart, in which many Jeff Gordon fans held their breath, but Jeff Gordon passed teammate Kasey Kahne on the high side and from that point forward Gordon sailed to win his fifth career race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400. Gordon won his 90th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in dramatic fashion. An ecstatic Gordon was in victory lane.
Gordon is referring to a late race restart on lap 143 of 160 when the fourth caution flag of the day flew for a slow car on the track. Gordon restarted on the high side with leader Kasey Kahne on the low side. When the green flag dropped Gordon kept on Kasey Kahne's door and was able to pass the #5 Chevrolet on the high side and get in front out of Turn 1. From that point forward Gordon was the man to beat and he was able to beat runner-up Kyle Busch by over two seconds.
"I don't think there's a greater feeling for a driver or a team," Gordon said in victory lane when asked about what winning in Indianapolis means. "I'm not very good on restarts, but I made the restart of my life today."
Finishing in the third position was Denny Hamlin with Matt Kenseth coming home fourth and Joey Logano in fifth. Finishing in the sixth position was Kasey Kahne with rookie Kyle Larson coming home seventh. Kevin Harvick finished in the eighth spot with Dale Earnhardt Jr finishing in ninth and rookie Austin Dillon rounded out the top ten.
Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon led the field to green to begin the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harvick shot out to an early lead but Gordon passed him on lap two and was strong early on. Gordon led by over four and a half seconds when the competition caution flew on lap 21. Most of the leaders would pit, except for Joey Logano and he would restart as the leader on the lap 26 restart with Jeff Gordon on the high side. Gordon got beat badly on the restart and faded in that part of the race.
Logano was in front but on lap 33 Logano would pit for tires and fuel, beginning a strategy play in the middle part of the race. Kasey Kahne assumed the lead and would lead until he pitted on lap 39. When pit stops cycled around Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon were in front on lap 56. Pit stops would begin again on lap 62 and the leaders would pit on lap 65. On lap 66 the races' second caution flag of the day flew when Danica Patrick spun coming off of pit road. Patrick had a rear end issue on her #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and the issue caused her to spin. The team was able to fix the issue but Patrick finished several laps down in the 42nd position.
Most of the lead lap cars would pit. Except for leader Denny Hamlin who stayed out to live out their pit strategy and to keep a few cars, Brad Keselowski especially, a lap down after they got trapped a lap down on the caution. Hamlin would restart in the low lane on lap 73 but would lose the lead after Kasey Kahne got in front. Kahne began his turn in front and began to pull away from the field. Kahne had a two second lead when the race reached the halfway point on lap 80 and on lap 88 still led by two seconds. Meanwhile Denny Hamlin pitted. Hamlin and his team were trying to live out their pit strategy. His team would not get his car full, leaving Hamlin and his team in a tough situation if the race remained green.
Meanwhile Kahne stayed in front but his teammate Jeff Gordon continued to show his muscle. Gordon had gotten back in the middle part of the top ten due to the cautions and was moving up nicely. On lap 91 he moved past Kevin Harvick for the third position. His progress would stop on lap 97 when the races' third caution flag flew for an incident involving Trevor Bayne. Bayne lost control of his #21 Ford coming off of turn three and hit the inside wall hard ending his day. Bayne finished 43rd.
The leaders would pit under the caution and Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch led the field off of pit road and would lead on the lap 102 restart. Kahne shot out to the lead but again his car wasn't the fastest among Hendrick Motorsports. That belonged to Jeff Gordon who was slowly working his way up to the lead. On lap 106 Gordon got the fourth position away from Kevin Harvick and would move to the third position on lap 110, passing Clint Bowyer. On lap 114 Gordon passed Kyle Busch for the second position and began to put the pressure on Kahne. Gordon would begin to chop Kahne's 2.5 second lead. By lap 125 Gordon had the lead down to just one second.
The leaders would pit on lap 130 under the green flag and when pit stops cycled around Gordon was just a few car lengths off of Kahne's bumper. The races' fourth and final caution flag flew on lap 138 when Ryan Truex's car came to a stop on the backstretch. A few leaders would pit but Kahne and Gordon would stay out and they led the field to green on the lap 143 restart.
Kahne took the low lane with Gordon up high and the two were side by side heading into turn one. Gordon got around Kahne on the high side and had his best restart of the season. From that point forward Gordon led and was not able to be caught, sailing to his 90th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Finishing in the 11th position was Ryan Newman with Brad Keselowski coming home 12th, Greg Biffle 13th and Jimmie Johnson finished 14th. Carl Edwards finished in the 15th position with Clint Bowyer coming home 16th. Tony Stewart finished in the 17th spot with A.J. Allmendinger finishing 18th. Brian Vickers finished in the 19th position with Jamie McMurray coming home 20th.
Other notables in the field included Aric Almirola in 21st, Juan Pablo Montoya in 23rd, Ricky Stenhouse Jr in 24th and Martin Truex Jr in 25th. Kurt Busch finished 27th.
The win for Gordon was his second of the 2014 season locking him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon became the seventh driver to lock himself into the Chase with multiple wins joining, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick. There are four drivers with one win on the season and they are Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola. The other five drivers who would be in the Chase right now based on points are Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.
Notable drivers currently outside the Chase looking in are Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose. Also outside the Chase is Martin Truex Jr, who sits 24th in the point standings.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 3rd.
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Tags: indianapolis motor speedway, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series