Jeff Gordon has scored his third victory of the 2014 season.
Jeff Gordon took command of the race on a restart with just 17 laps to go, holding off a charge from both Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick to take the victory. Not only is it his third win of the year, but the 91st of his career.
"It wasn't easy," Gordon said. "It's never easy to win at any of these tracks, especially when aerodynamics and track position mean so much. I thought we learned a lot the last time we were here on track position. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) just called a perfect race. I kept getting on that inside lane and just not getting very good restarts."
Logano didn't give up the lead easily, and pulled up beside Gordon in an attempt to retake the spot, but Gordon got an assist from the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to maintain the position. Harvick then got by Logano, himself, to take the spot and post his fourth-consecutive runner-up finish at Michigan.
Whoever got out in front had such a huge advantage
Logano made one final charge at it late, only to get loose and fall back to fourth, only being able to recover to third. The No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard was fourth, with the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top-five.
"I had a bunch of good ones," Logano said about his restarts. "The last one wasn't the greatest. I got through the gear box good and had the 24 cleared, and I should have pulled down in front of him and got that draft, but he got up next to me and pulled me back so hard that I couldn't get away from him. He was able to get position on me into one and once he got that clearn air. I knew I had one more shot. I knew I was really good into one and that was his week point. I drove it off there and got him wiggled a little bit getting undernearth him and cleared him again, but he was able to pull me back again off the corner and then I got loose under him trying to maintain what I had and came in third.
Logano and Gordon were mainstays up front throughout the race, with Gordon starting on the pole and Logano alongside in second. Logano led a race high 86 laps in the 200-lap race, while Gordon led 68.
"Whoever got out in front had such a huge advantage," Gordon said."
The varying strategies
Varying pit strategies did put a handful of other drivers up front for a few laps here and there, most notably the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman.
Newman pitted on lap 122, and his team then planned only one more stop through the remaining distance, while everyone else would need two additional stops.
Gordon and Logano, along with most of the race field pitted around lap 139. Then, when Newman made his final stop on lap 162, Gordon, Logano and company then followed a few laps later with their final stops.
After those stops, the sixth caution of the race came on lap 168 and somewhat pushed the reset button on the race with Gordon and Logano up front with everyone on the same pit sequence.
The No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch was able to get ahead of Gordon to take second behind Logano on the restart that followed the lap 168 caution and restarted second to Logano on another restart just a few laps later, but he wound up bringing out a caution, himself, the eighth and final caution of the race, on lap 178.
The No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer finished sixth, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin was seventh and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski eighth.
Jimmie Johnson battled a broken shifter lever early on in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet but recovered to finish ninth. He had a heated conversation with Ryan Newman after the race. The No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle rounded out the top-10.
The race was slowed by eight cautions, with Kyle Busch having slamming the wall very early. Rookie Kyle Larson's day went up in flames after a right front tire failure caused a fire to erupt on his car. The biggest incident took place on the 26th lap. Danica Patrick got loose, tagged her SHR teammate Jeff Burton, and then went spinning. A number of cars piled into the wreck.