It came down to another late race restart and Jeff Gordon once again hit it right and showed he had the best car. He led 68 of 200 laps in winning the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. It's Gordon's third win of the season and the 91st of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. Gordon beat second place driver Kevin Harvick by 1.4 seconds.
Finishing in the third position was Joey Logano. He led a race-high 86 laps but was beat by Gordon on the final restart with 17 laps to go. Paul Menard finished fourth. Finishing in the fifth position was Dale Earnhardt Jr with Clint Bowyer finishing sixth. Denny Hamlin finished in the seventh spot with Brad Keselowski finishing eighth. Jimmie Johnson finished ninth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top ten.
Finishing in the 11th spot was Ryan Newman with Marcos Ambrose coming home 12th. Finishing in the 13th spot was A.J. Allmendinger with Jamie McMurray finishing 14th. Finishing in the 15th position was Ricky Stenhouse Jr with Kasey Kahne coming home 16th. Finishing in the 17th spot was Casey Mears and Danica Patrick was the last lead lap car in 18th. Brian Vickers finished 19th and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 20.
The Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway started with Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano on the front row. Throughout the day those two cars were the cars to beat. Logano led early but on lap four the races first caution flag flew when Kyle Busch hit the outside wall hard. Busch had a lot of damage but would continue and finish 41 laps down. He finished 39th.
On the lap eight restart Joey Logano continued to lead. On the restart Carl Edwards began to drop. He restarted fifth and fell all the way to 18th before the second caution of the day flew for a competition caution on lap 20. The leaders would pit except for Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson also stayed out after he pitted under the first caution. On that pit stop Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr would make contact. Larson would get the worst of it and had significant damage on his left front. Both drivers would continue. Newman would lead the field to green on the lap 23 restart.
On that restart Danica Patrick got loose and slid into teammate Jeff Burton. Patrick spun across the track and caused a major accident. Seven cars were involved in all including, Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Martin Truex Jr, Trevor Bayne, Matt Kenseth and J.J. Yeley. All the drivers would eventually continue but Patrick was the only one without significant damage. Yeley, who was filling in for Ryan Truex who suffered a concussion in a practice crash on Saturday, finished 30th. Martin Truex Jr finished 36th, Matt Kenseth 38th, Michael Annett 40th, Trevor Bayne 41st, and Justin Allgaier 42nd.
The race would continue on lap 31 with Newman and Jimmie Johnson alongside each other. Johnson would pull away and lead. The races fourth caution flag flew on lap 35 for debris. It was on that caution that Jimmie Johnson discovered he had a broken shifter. The team would make several repairs throughout the race and solve the problem but he did fall one lap down and had to fight back from that.
Newman and Johnson would pit giving the lead on the lap 41 restart to Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon. Logano would get away from Gordon the restart. On lap 53 Gordon was able to pass Logano and Gordon led as the race saw a long green flag run at this portion of the race.
Gordon was still in front after a round of green flag pit stops on lap 70. Meanwhile on lap 76 Jeff Burton began to experience some issues on his #14 Chevrolet. Burton was running only his third race of the 2014 season, subbing for Tony Stewart. Burton was in the 14th position when the car began to smoke inside the cockpit on lap 80. The team determined that Burton had a major electrical failure and would have to be pushed behind the wall. Burton would eventually continue but he finished 37th.
Gordon continued to show the way and was leading on lap 96 when the races fifth caution flag flew when Kyle Larson crashed hard after blowing a right front tire. Larson's car caught fire and was done for the day. He finished in the 43rd position.
Green flag pit stops began just before Larson hit the wall meaning some guys had caught a break as the yellow helped them gain track position. Most of the leaders pitted and on the restart Ryan Newman and Joey Logano led the field to green on lap 108.
Logano would get away on the restart and showed his strength. Meanwhile Jeff Gordon was in the sixth spot and he began to work his way through the field. Gordon would get the fourth position on lap 122 and by lap 125 Gordon found himself in the third spot. He made a move on Kevin Harvick for the second position on lap 133 and began to chase down Joey Logano for the lead.
Green flag pit stops began and Gordon and his #24 Hendrick Motorsports team had a great pit stop and when stops cycled around on lap 142 Gordon found himself in front of Logano. By lap 153 Gordon's lead was about 1.5 seconds. Joey Logano wasn't going away and clever pit strategy by his crew chief Todd Gordon got Logano ahead of Gordon after the final round of green flag pit stops.
Gordon and Logano were on the same pit sequence and Logano and his team knew Gordon was going to be tough to pass under the green flag. Gordon had the best car and in clean air Gordon's car was even better. The best way to pass Gordon was on pit road.
So on lap 165 Joey Logano came down to pit. Fuel was the question and how much to take. Gordon and his team would take two tires and part of a second can of fuel to make sure he would make it. Logano and his team took one can of fuel, eliminating three seconds on pit road and giving Logano a time advantage of Gordon.
Logano got the lead when stops cycled around on lap 167. Logano needed a caution to make it the rest of the way and that would happen on lap 169 at the expense of Logano's teammate. Brad Keselowski blew a right front tire and hit the wall hard, causing the races sixth caution flag. Keselowski didn't have too much damage amazingly and he would continue on the lead lap.
On lap 173 the race would restart with Logano and Gordon on the front row. Logano would shoot out to a lead, after a shaky restart by Gordon. Gordon complained on his radio that Logano had done something illegal. NASCAR would warn the #22 team but Logano was still out front. On that same lap though, Brian Vickers would spin causing the races seventh caution flag of the day. Vickers had minor damage on the front valence of the car and he would continue but did lose a lap. On that restart, however, Gordon fell to the third position after Kurt Busch passed him for the second position. He and Logano would lead the field to the lap 177 restart.
On that restart Logano would work his way pass Busch but Busch fought hard off of turn two, maybe a little too hard. Busch lost control of his #41 Chevrolet and bounced it off the wall. One lap later the caution flew as Busch had blown a tire leaving debris all over the track. Busch would lose four laps and finish 31st.
The race would restart on lap 184 with Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon on the front row again, with Gordon 0-2 on restarts with Logano. However, this time Gordon refused to get beat. He would work his way past Logano by driving it deep into turn one and two. Logano would then come even again on the backstretch the next lap but Gordon would stay ahead entering turn three. Logano then got in a battle with Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard allowing Gordon to get the breathing room his car needed. Gordon then would pull away and win his 91st career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and his first win at Michigan since 2001.
Other notables in the field included Austin Dillon in 22nd and Carl Edwards in 23rd,
With his third win on the 2014 season Gordon ties his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson and also Team Penske's Brad Keselowski for the most wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series so far in 2014. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards all have two victories on the season and Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger all have one victory. Every driver that has won a race this season is locked into the Chase.
There are four spots left in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and they would go to the highest four drivers in points. Those drivers are Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle at this momen with only three races remaining before the Chase Grid is set.
Notable drivers on the outside of Chase include Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, and Martin Truex Jr.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Irwin Tools Race Night at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday August 23rd.
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Tags: Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, michigan international speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Pure Michigan 400