Jeff Gordon became the all-time winningest NASCAR driver at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday with his win of the Crown Royal Present the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard. It was Gordon’s fifth Brickyard 400 win, breaking a tie he previously held with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and came 20 years after Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 in 1994.
“I don’t think there is a great feeling for a race car driver and a race team, because that’s what it took today,” Gordon said. “It was a total team effort to be here in victory lane. I’m exhausted.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing trio of drivers — Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth — finished second, third and fourth, while Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Kasey Kahne seemed to takeover the race just before the halfway point of the 160-lap, maintaining the top spot after taking the lead from Denny Hamlin, who had stayed out during a green cycle and then a yellow flag to restart up front after a lap 68 caution.
The next yellow flag came with Clint Bowyer on pit road on lap 98. Bowyer, as a result, stayed out during the caution, while everyone else pitted, to restart with the lead. As soon as the race returned to green, though, Kahne retook the lead.
The field cycled through their final green-flag stops with about 33 laps to go, with Kahne cycling back to the lead and Gordon in second. Kahne was able to hold off his teammate until 17 laps to go when Gordon took the lead for good. Kahne losed a few more positions and wound up finishing sixth.
“I’m not very good on restarts and wasn’t very good today,” Gordon said. “I finally made the restart of my life today when it counted most. I knew we had a great race car. We just needed to get out front. Kasey kind of hung back and I got a little ahead of him, and I had to back up and was able to stay on his quarter pand, and once we got down into (turns) one and two, I could hear him get loose.”
Gordon first took the lead on lap two of the race, taking the top spot from pole sitter Kevin Harvick. He continued to lead until the first caution on lap 21 when Logano stayed out to inherit the lead. Logano was able to maintain his position up front until a lengthy green-flag cycle of stops.
With pit strategies varying, with some drivers/teams opting to utilize a road course-type strategy of scheduling pit stops by figuring backwards from the end of the race, the green cycle of stops was lengthy, resulting in several drivers spending time up front, including Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and Hamlin.
The cycle conculded with Harvick as the leader and Gordon and Kahne in second and third. The second yellow flag waved soon after, laying the ground for Kahne’s dominance of the middle portion of the race.
Larson finished seventh, Harvick was eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-10.