|Jeff Gordon and crew prostrate themselves and kiss the dirty bricks in Open Wheel Racing's Hallowed Ground|
|Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing|
Jeff Gordon found one heck of a way to celebrate "Jeff Gordon Day" by winning the Crown Royal presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.
On Friday, the Indianapolis mayor declared Sunday "Jeff Gordon Day" and Gordon celebrated in style with his record fifth career victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is also the Pittsboro, Indiana native's hometown track. The victory was Gordon's first at the 2.5-mile track since 2004.
The victory is his second of the year in the Sprint Cup Series and also helped him clinch a spot in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. The win is also the four-time Cup champion's 90th in the sport's premier series.
Gordon used a Lap 144 restart to jump out past his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, who was the race leader at the time. From there until the end, Gordon was untouchable.
Behind Gordon was the entire fleet of Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Kyle Busch finished second, Denny Hamlin was third and Matt Kenseth fourth. Kahne rounded out the top five.
|Jeff Gordon gets quick work from his pitcrew|
|Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing|
With their Indianapolis results, the following drivers have clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field: Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano, assuming they attempt to qualify for the final six races of the regular season. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski clinched their spots two weeks ago at New Hampshire.
Gordon had previously won at IMS in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004, and on Friday he was honored on the 20th anniversary of the first win. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles presented the 42-year-old with a No. 24 placard from the IMS scoring pylon that was removed last month, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard proclaimed Sunday "Jeff Gordon Day."
It was indeed his day.
"I told him this morning that 'this is your day,'" said Rick Hendrick, Gordon's car owner. "He gets around this place so well and for him to break that tie (with Johnson) is pretty special. We're a little bit older than we were 20 years ago, but it's a great win. I remember the first one and how good it felt, this one feels just as good."
As is the tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gordon kissed the bricks and allowed himself to finally soak in the moment with his adoring fans.
"I was trying so hard with 10 (laps) to go not to focus on the crowd," Gordon said. "Every once in a while I'd glance up there and see the reaction and I was trying not to let it get to me, but you can't help it — it's such a great race."
The Sprint Cup Series will be at Pocono Raceway next weekend for the GoBowling.com 400 (Aug. 3, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER
YOU ARE NASCAR'S FIRST FIVE-TIME WINNER OF THE BRICKYARD 400. YOU DID IT. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN VICTORY LANE AT INDIANAPOLIS?
"I don't think there is a greater feeling for a race car driver and a race team, because that's what it took today. It was a total team effort to be here in Victory Lane. I'm exhausted."
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND ON THAT LAST RESTART WITH 17 LAPS TO GO?
"I'm not very good on restarts and wasn't very good today. 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 (Kahne) kind of hung back and I kind of got a little ahead of him and I had to back up and was able to stay on his quarter panel and once we got down into (Turns) 1 and 2, I could hear him get loose. I was kind of glad he took the inside because I really wanted the outside. Man, it was; and I've got to thank him. He raced me awesome and clean because it could have gotten real ugly down there. Once I got clear of him I was like, I can't believe this is happening now. No caution; please no caution now. I've got to thank Axalta. We could not do it without them. AARP, Drive to End Hunger, Pepsi, Valvoline, Chevrolet; gosh I cannot believe that this just happened."
YOU UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY OF THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. WHAT'S THE SIGNIFICANCE TO YOU TO BE A FIVE-TIME WINNER HERE?
"I was trying so hard with 10 (laps) to go not to focus on the crowd. Every once in a while I'd glance up there and I could see the reaction. I was trying not to let it get to me and not think about it too much. And yet you can't help it. It's such a big place and such an important victory and a crucial moment in the season and the championship and those emotions take over. I have my kids here; there's nothing better, especially at one of the biggest races to have your family here. All I know is my friends back at home; I need to take a vacation more often (laughs). This one is for all those fans throughout the years and all weekend long. They're saying we believe you can get number 5. We got number 5…..yes!"
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIFTH WIN!
"It feels amazing. This is for all these fans that follow this No. 24 team that believe in us that we could get number five, not only this weekend did I hear a lot of this. But, just the past years since we won this race. So many fans believe that we can get number five. This team came prepared. That was an awesome Axalta Chevy SS, and we had so much support. With five (laps) to go I was trying to look up in the grandstands, but it is the biggest race in my opinion. I know the Daytona 500 is a big race, but to me personally, this race means so much because of the fans. Because of the history of this track, but I couldn't help it. I would look up there and just see them standing for those closing laps pulling for us. Nothing is greater than that."
ON THE LAST RESTART:
"Everybody knows how terrible I am on restarts, so I really didn't want to see a restart. I finally got the restart of my life. It wouldn't have happen at a better time. Luckily no cautions.
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS
BEFORE THE RACE, WE TALKED ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF POSSIBLY WINNING IT. NOW THAT YOU HAVE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
"It's just unbelievable. I've wanted to win this race my whole life; to win here at this unbelievable place and the history of this race track. Jeff (Gordon) has an amazing record here. This is the one. This is the one for me. I am so proud of everybody at the No. 24 shop. Kasey (Kahne) had a great run. This is a new car. There is just a ton of work to it. Those guys did it; they are the best."
RICK HENDRICK, OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
"I told him this morning that this was his day. He's been so good on the long runs at every track and he gets around this place so well. But for him to break that tie is pretty special. We're a little bit older than we were 20 years ago, but this is a great win. What a way, with Jeff, here in Indianapolis where this is his own track. I remember how good it felt. This one feels just as good."
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 6TH
TOUGH ENDING FOR YOU GUYS AFTER BEING UP FRONT ALL DAY WITH A GOOD CAR:
"We had a really good car, and I was happy with the speed of the car. Just didn't get the win but we were close. The team had a really great effort and did a nice job. I was really happy with that."
AS YOU LOOK AT TODAY'S RACE YOU HAD THE LEAD LATE IN THE RACE IT GOT AWAY FROM YOU ON THE FINAL RESTART. THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THOSE YEARS CAN YOU TAKE POSITIVES OUT OF TODAY?
"Absolutely. I mean the positive is I finished sixth. If I wouldn't have done that I would have finished dead last on the lead lap. There are positives we ran well. It is the strongest effort the team has put out all season long. All of us working together, yeah, we can take a lot out of here. That was a good performance today."
YOU LED THE MOST LAPS TODAY. WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE RACE CAR ON THAT LAST RESTART?
"We had a great Time Warner Cable Chevy. Looking back, I should have chosen the top (lane) obviously; but I pretty much let Jeff (Gordon) control that last restart. I took off and never spun a tire. And the inside had been more grip; in a straight line throughout the race. And I had started on both sides. So I thought I made the right decision. I didn't spin a tire and Jeff was driving by me like before we were even at the second red. But either way, he was going to pass me in (Turns) 1 and 2. So looking back, I probably should have chosen the top and that would have put us in a better place. But we ended up sixth. Because of that, I was able to save fuel and make it. If I had beat him, I would have had to race the heck out of him. He was faster than I was. So, we probably would have finished a lot worse. So, I guess for points it was good. I would have loved to win at the Brickyard. We had a good car. I thought I gave it all I had. The team gave it all they had and we just came up a little short."
AND YOU NEEDED THAT WIN TO TRY TO GET INTO THE CHASE, TOO
"Yeah, no kidding. I know that. We have five more good tracks for us and six more races, so hopefully we can get one."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT FINAL RESTART?
"Jeff (Gordon) just beat me. We got into Turn 1 he held me down and he was able to momentum off of Turn 1 which he did a better job. I should have choose the outside, looking back, but I thought there was more grip on the inside down the front stretch. Then he controlled the start. I just gave it up at that point. Either way that was the best we were going to finish. That was alright though."
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 7TH
ON HIS RACE:
"It was a good day for us. We were a top-10 car all race. Had some good restarts there most of the race. Then that last one there, we started on the outside and lost a spot, and had to line up fifth or something. Denny (Hamlin) lined up third. But still a good day. The Target Chevy was really good I thought. We were just too tight on short runs. We just kind of got tighter, then looser off. Everybody was kind of struggling with grip out there so it was fun. Cool that we finished in the top-10 at the Brickyard. To see Jeff Gordon win is pretty special. It's kind of like Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) winning the (Daytona) 500 this year. It was a really good day for everybody and all the fans."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 4 JIMMY JOHN'S CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 8TH
SOUNDED LIKE YOU BATTLED A TIGHT CAR ALL AFTERNOON?
"Yeah, we just started off bad really from the first lap. We were just way too tight as we went through the day and we never could make it better. Just made it worse most of the day. So yeah, just way too tight."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 DOW/MYCOGEN SEEDS CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 10TH
GREAT WEEKEND AS YOU HAD A SOLID TOP TEN TODAY AFTER WATCHING YOUR BROTHER WIN HERE YESTERDAY:
"It's great for us. As a team we just want to build momentum and that was a solid day. Our car had some speed in it, but it was tough to pass because when you got in traffic you couldn't do much. I am very proud of my guys, solid day, and hard to back up that win that Ty got yesterday but I will definitely take a top ten in this series."
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 42ND
"We looked at everything and it looks like the launch was fine. It just one of those things. It's too bad and these things never happen when you're having a bad day (laughs). We were having a good day. It's disappointing and the GoDaddy guys built me a really good car. Hendrick gave me great horsepower. We were the fastest car out there at times. We qualified better and had a good car for the race, it just didn't end the way we wanted it too. The good thing is, I get to come back to Indy and that makes me happy."
|9||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Chevrolet||23||160||0||Running|
|23||12||Juan Pablo Montoya||Ford||8||160||0||Running|
|24||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Ford||21||160||0||Running|
|25||78||Martin Truex Jr||Chevrolet||25||160||0||Running|
|42||10||Danica Patrick||Chevrolet||14||114||0||Rear Gear|