Gordon sets Indy milestone
INDIANAPOLIS (TSX) — As he crossed the yard of bricks, and the significance of his fifth victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway hit him like a ton of bricks, Jeff Gordon reveled in the moment that propelled him to victory in the Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard.
“God! I finally had the restart of my life,” Gordon shouted into his radio mic, recalling the move just 15 minutes earlier that launched him past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on Lap 144 of 160 in Sunday’s marquee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Twenty years removed from his victory in the inaugural Brickyard 400, Gordon finished 2.325 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch who with teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth finished 2-3-4 in the 20th Sprint Cup race of the season.
The win was the 90th of Gordon’s career, third-most all-time, his second of the season and, of course, his record fifth at IMS, breaking a tie with teammate Jimmie Johnson for most Cup wins at the Brickyard. The win also clinched Gordon a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, assuming he attempts to qualify for the remaining six races of the regular season.
And though open-wheel purists may blanch at the notion, Gordon is the first driver in any series to win five races on the legendary 2.5-mile oval that has played such an integral role in the history of motorsports in the United States.
“I’m not very good on restarts and wasn’t very good today, but I finally got the restart of my life today when it counted most,” said Gordon, who gave Chevrolet its 12th straight Cup victory at Indy. “Once I got clear, I was thinking like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening now ...’
“I was trying so hard with 10 (laps) to go not to focus on the crowd,” added Gordon, who increased his series lead over teammate and ninth-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. to 24 points. “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. ... 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!”
If Gordon had trouble believing the outcome, team owner Rick Hendrick did not. In fact, Hendrick had a premonition about the race.
“I told (Gordon) this morning, ‘This is your day,’ Hendrick recalled. “For him to break that tie (with Johnson), it’s pretty special. I remember the first one (1994) and how good it felt.
“This one feels just as good.”
Joey Logano ran fifth, and Kahne slipped to sixth in the final 17-lap run after leading 70 laps and, for most of the afternoon, looking to be the likely winner.
Edwards leaving Roush
The good news for Roush Fenway Racing is that Greg Biffle will remain with the team as the organization’s veteran leader, after re-signing with RFR.
On the flip side, Carl Edwards told the team more than a month ago, according to owner Jack Roush, that he will drive elsewhere next year.
The high likelihood is that Edwards will join former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing.
The reality for Roush Fenway is that the organization will have lost two championship-caliber drivers in quick succession, as both Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ, and Edwards, the 2011 title runner-up in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, have opted for other rides.
“We’ve just got to get everything together, and then we’ll make the announcement when it’s the right time,” said Edwards, who acknowledged in a television interview that he already has his next deal “worked out.”
“Trust me, we’ll do it as soon as we can,” Edwards said. “But like I said, the focus is today and winning this race. I’ll talk about it in the next couple weeks when we kind of finalize everything. I think right now is not the right time to reflect on it, because we’ve still got a championship to win.”