Jeff Gordon made history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, notching his fifth victory at the famous track after a blistering performance. The four-time Sprint Cup champion kissed the bricks yet again on a track he has dominated throughout his career.
The Brickyard 400 concluded in familiar fashion with a Hendrick Motorsports driver at the top of the leaderboard, as no one could deny Gordon on Sunday:
Gordon now has the most victories at Indianapolis in the long history of the track, per David Caraviello of NASCAR.com:
They've been racing cars on this 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval since 1911. Now, no driver owns more career victories on it than Jeff Gordon.— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) July 27, 2014
It was also a historic win for Gordon in another sense, as it came 20 years after his first at the Brickyard, via Jeff Gluck of USA Today:
Twenty years ago, Jeff Gordon won the first Brickyard 400. He wins at Indianapolis again today for a record FIFTH time. #NASCAR— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 27, 2014
One of the biggest factors in Gordon taking the checkered flag was an impressive restart. Following the final caution of the race, Gordon propelled past teammate Kasey Kahne and led the remainder of the race to visit Victory Lane.
Gordon credited that restart following the win, per Kelli Bartik of WCCB Charlotte:
Jeff Gordon wins at the Brickyard. "I finally had the restart of my life!" #NASCAR— Kelli Bartik (@KelliBartik) July 27, 2014
Car owner Rick Hendrick spoke about Gordon's victory after the race, via NASCAR on ESPN:
"I told him this morning, 'This is your day,'" Rick says he told Jeff this morning. "I remember how good the first one felt; this (as good).— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) July 27, 2014
Just behind Gordon were Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who also came on strong following the final restart. Both put together consistent runs but were unable to overtake Gordon in the final laps.
While Kahne fell to sixth place in the final laps, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. For those counting at home, that makes three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the top four behind the winner, Gordon.
Here's a look at the leaderboard and updated standings following the race at Indy:
|9||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||0|
*Full results can be found on NASCAR.com.
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||693|
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|4||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||693||2||9||14|
*Complete standings can be found on NASCAR.com.
Leading up to the race, all of the talk surrounded Carl Edwards. The two-time winner this season announced he'll be leaving Roush-Fenway Racing after the 2014 NASCAR campaign, per Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press.
While Edwards noted that he will not return to Roush, he hasn't shared which team he will be joining. He was, however, still focused on clinching his next checkered flag for his current team, via Nate Ryan of USA Today:
Carl Edwards: "Our mission is to win this race today and the championship. That's the key. That's where I'm at today." #nascar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) July 27, 2014
After a wild morning in NASCAR with Edwards and RFR parting ways, the action on the track was much the same.
Gordon had one of the stronger cars on the track from the early going. The No. 24 darted toward the top of the leaderboard after qualifying second to dominate the start of the event.
Gluck noted Gordon's early success, as well as a special gesture honoring the Hendrick driver:
Jeff Gordon is kicking butt so far. ICYMI, the Indianapolis mayor proclaimed today "Jeff Gordon Day" in the city...on Friday. Good call?— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 27, 2014
Gordon would wind up taking the lead later in the race before he held off the rest of the field to make history. Needless to say, the fast start was no fluke for the elite driver.
Strategy was also an early storyline on the track as drivers implemented varying methods in the pits. Ryan pointed out just how different the strategies were from normal races:
This is road-course strategy and feels much like 2011 race won by Paul Menard ... in which Jeff Gordon was second with the best car. #nascar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) July 27, 2014
While the race went smoothly for the most part, one casualty later on was Danica Patrick.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was running in the top 15 in the early going, but mechanical issues ended her day. NASCAR on ESPN broke down the scene that marked an end to Patrick's day:
Danica broke something coming out of the pits; caution is out as her car stopped exiting the pits and is now coasting on access road.— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) July 27, 2014
Despite the discouraging ending for Patrick, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving praised her performance prior to her exit:
Following the Brickyard race, the Sprint Cup circuit will now head to an equally difficult track at Pocono. The Tricky Triangle will be the setting for the 21st race of the season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. tamed the Triangle earlier this season to claim his first victory at the track. After holding off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski, he'll have plenty of competition as he looks for his third checkered flag of the year.
Just six races remain before the Chase officially begins, so rolling through Victory Lane is of the utmost importance. With myriad drivers still hunting for their first win to essentially guarantee a spot in NASCAR's playoffs, expect even more intense action at Pocono.