Hendrick Motorsports Lands Three Indy Contingency Awards
Despite coming up one position shy in his bid for a fifth win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon’s strong run in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 presented by BigMachineRecords.com sent a message that he is a serious challenger for a fifth championship, and earned the veteran driver two of Hendrick Motorsports’ three post-race contingency awards.
Gordon, who started the event in eighth, led four times for a total of 36 laps around the famed 2.5-mile track. Charging from 16th position to second in the final 20 laps, Gordon wheeled his No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet to a solid second-place finish. He has scored top-10 finishes in 14 of the 18 races held at Indianapolis, the most by any driver.
“Just a flawless effort by the team,” said Gordon. “The pit stops were fantastic. I thought Alan [Gustafson] called a great race. When we came off pit road the last time, we were able to get ahead of [Kevin] Harvick, and I thought that was a huge moment for us. I knew that shortly after that, there were some guys that were going to try to stretch it on fuel and all I could do is run as hard as I could to put pressure on them and hope that I got there in time.”
Gordon earned his second consecutive American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award of the year, which goes to the eligible driver that records that fastest average speed on restarts and finishes the race on the lead lap.
Hendrick Engines (#24 team) also picked up the MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award, which is awarded to the team that accumulates the most MAHLE Clevite points in an event. Points are awarded for qualifying and finishing position. Bonus points are given for the team that leads the most laps.
With a 16th-place finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr. now sits 10th position in points. For turning the fastest lap of the race while leading, the driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet earned the Goodyear Gatorback Belts Fastest Lap of the Race Award.
All three awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
Gordon, who has posted two victories, seven top fives and nine top 10s in 20 races this season, predicted more of the same from his No. 24 team in the stretch run to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“You know, this team is for real,” said Gordon. “We showed that today. While we didn't win, I think we definitely showed that we're a championship-caliber team. We've been knocking on the door, getting closer every single weekend, won a couple races. For me, this is going to be a huge boost for this race team, and hopefully a bit of a statement to the competition as well that we're serious about our efforts at a championship this year.”
Gordon's runner-up Brickyard finish kept him seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings heading into Sunday’s 38th Annual Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway (12 p.m. EST, ESPN). Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Jeff Gordon
COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD: David Ragan (182.994 mph. 49.182 secs.)
DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Jimmy Fennig (crew chief for Matt Kenseth)
GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Dale Earnhardt Jr (175.486 mph, lap 56)
MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Hendrick Engines (#24)
MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Jamie McMurray
MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Darian Grubb (crew chief for Tony Stewart, 0.449 secs.)
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Kyle Busch (19 places)
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Andy Lally