The Sports Xchange
INDIANAPOLIS — Looking like vintage form, Jeff Gordon grabbed the lead on the final restart 16 laps from the end and held on to win Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It was a record fifth Brickyard win for Gordon, his second triumph of the season and the 90th of his over two-decade Sprint Cup career.
It also marked Gordon's first Brickyard triumph since 2004. He also won the inaugural Brickyard in 1994, as well as 1998 and 2001.
Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., also presented himself an early birthday present. The Sprint Cup veteran turns 43 on Aug. 4.
It appeared Kasey Kahne, who dominated much of the race, would be unbeatable and was headed to his first win of the season. But Kahne stumbled on the final restart, allowing Gordon to take the lead while Kahne quickly plummeted backwards to fifth place.
"I just had the restart of my life," Gordon said on his team radio after crossing the start-finish line.
Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.
Kahne finished sixth, followed by rookie Kyle Larson, pole-sitter Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rookie Austin Dillon.
Kahne and Gordon, as well as the next five on the leaders' ladder, chose to remain on-track when an out of power Ryan Truex brought out the caution flag 21 laps from the finish.
When the green flag dropped for the final time on Lap 184, Kahne spun his tires while Gordon had a textbook restart and never looked back.
Other notable finishes:
--Juan Pablo Montoya, who returned to the Verizon Indy Car Series full-time this season, finished 23rd as an Indy ringer of sorts for Team Penske.
--Danica Patrick, who started from the 14th position, struggled during the first third of the race. She did not have the kind of showing she hoped for when the rear axle on her Chevrolet broke after 67 laps. While repairs got her back on-track nearly 30 laps later, she still finished 42nd.
--Defending Brickyard winner Ryan Newman was never much of a factor in this year's race, finishing 11th.
Three of the top four and four of the top six starters in Sunday's race were former Brickyard winners.
Harvick held the lead for the first lap before Gordon took over on Lap 2.
NASCAR called a competition caution on Lap 21 to assess tire wear as well as how the track condition was in due to heavy rain showers overnight.
Everything wound up being routine and most teams came in on the subsequent pit stop for either two or four tires and fuel. The only drivers to take fuel-only were Clint Bowyer and four-time 400 winner Jimmie Johnson. Both came in for tires on Lap 37.
Logano was the only driver to stay out on-track and held the lead until Lap 33, when he was forced to pit for fuel and tires, allowing Kahne to take over the lead.
Kahne also lead at the halfway point (80 laps) of the 160-lap event.
NOTES: While IMS never gives official attendance, a poll of media estimated the turnout to be an estimated 70,000. … Prior to the race, Roush Fenway Racing announced that Carl Edwards would not be returning to the team in 2015. That paves the way for Edwards to rejoin former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015, as has been rumored. … Rumors about IMS becoming the first race in the Chase next year, essentially swapping dates with current Chase opener Chicagoland Speedway, may soon become fact. IMS typically has ticket order forms in the Brickyard 400 program for next year's race. But that's not the case in this year's program. There is no ticket order form for the 2015 Brickyard.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun