Jeff Gordon led 124 of 160 laps, the most laps ever led by a driver at The Brickyard 400, to grab his 69th career win. Gordon survived a series of late race crashes and the hard-charging Yates cars of Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler, to earn a ...
Jeff Gordon led 124 of 160 laps, the most laps ever led by a driver at The Brickyard 400, to grab his 69th career win. Gordon survived a series of late race crashes and the hard-charging Yates cars of Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler, to earn a series-high fifth win of the year.
"What an amazing week it has been," said Gordon. "That Yard of Bricks is so special. It feels so incredible. This guy, Robbie Loomis (crew chief), what an amazing job. What a great effort. I am so excited.
"To have the support of all these people here - I don't get cheers often and it's awesome to hear all the cheers here at Indianapolis. It's a very, very special week and day for me and this entire team.
Dale Jarrett racks up his best finish of the season with second, previous to Indy, Jarrett had two top-three results.
"It's great, especially here at Indy," Jarrett said. "I certainly would like to be over in Victory Lane, but this is a great day for us. Jeff (Gordon) was too good on the restarts for us. It just seemed that when his car got hooked up, the front tires gripped a little better on those first couple of corners and I couldn't get to his bumper.
"I didn't need that last caution. I thought I was gaining some ground on him. But he had the best car all day. Elliott (Sadler) and I had great runs, what a great day for Robert Yates Racing."
Elliott Sadler garners his career best finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with third.
"To come in here and run as good as we just ran, to finish third, run in the top three or four all day long, it says a lot about our race team," commented Sadler. "One car was better than the team today, the 24, they had a great race car. But, I'm really proud of my team right now.
"I'm so happy with third, and I am so glad that DJ got second. It's a great run for the whole Yates organization."
Rookie Kasey Kahne may have had the most impressive run of the day. Kahne was running eighth at lap 59, when he hit the wall and cut a left front tire. He had to bring the No. 9 Dodge to pit road for an unscheduled stop, which sent him to 39th place. Kahne consistently picked his way back though the field to land fourth place.
"I think we probably had the best car here," said Kahne. "This thing was awesome early in the race. We were coming through the field and just blew a left front tire and got into the wall and destroyed the left side of our car.
"We had to fix it and went a lap down and we still ran in the top five. That is pretty good."
Tony Stewart bounced back from a lap 22 spin, to complete the top five.
"It wasn't a fifth place car by any means," Stewart commented. "But the guys kept working and we just kept digging and got a fifth out of it. That's as good as a victory for the way this thing drove all day.
"To come home fifth today and finish up after spinning early and not hitting anything and all the stuff we had to battle today. They did an awesome job."
Pole sitter Casey Mears led the field to the green flag but Elliott Sadler took the lead from at lap three and rocketed to a 3.2 second lead on the field. Sadler looked stealth until the restart on lap 27 the No. 24 Chevy of Jeff Gordon began to put the pressure on the rear bumper of Sadler's No. 38 Ford.
It would take Gordon just one lap to maneuver around Sadler and grab the race lead. Gordon led unchallenged, mastering, at times, a three second lead over the field, until lap 68. The leaders pitted after the day's fifth yellow, with Gordon in the top spot, but a superior pit stop by the 38 team, put Sadler back into the race lead.
Sadler did not even get to lead one lap under green, before the caution waved again for a multi-car crash on the front straightaway. The No. 2 Dodge of Rusty Wallace checked up, hit the wall, and collected the No. 10 car of Scott Riggs. In the melee, Riggs shot up the track, smacking into Terry Labonte and Ward Burton. Scott Wimmer and Kyle Petty were also involved in the chain reaction crash.
Clearly, Gordon was the car to beat. On the restart at lap 78, the No. 24 easily motored around the No. 38 to regain the lead. Sadler managed to stay shored up to the back-bumper of Gordon, but did not have the horsepower to pass him. As green flag laps counted down, Sadler drifted back to a 1.2- second deficit on Gordon.
It was the Gordon-Sadler show until lap 105, when Sadler suddenly began to freefall through the top five. Matt Kenseth, Dale Jarrett, and Robby Gordon all passed Sadler sending him from second to fifth.
Robby Gordon wheeled passed Jarrett, and was running third, making a charge to the front, when on lap 123; Gordon cut his left front tire bringing out the ninth caution of the day. Gordon missed pit road the first time by, and when he finally made it to his stall, his tire was on fire.
Gordon caused a smoke storm on pit lane, clearing the two pit stalls next to him, before finally making repairs to his car and taking back to the track. Gordon finished 22nd.
Jeff Gordon beat the rest of the field off pit road, and pulled away to a two-second lead over the field on the restart, a lead he was building on, when the races tenth caution came out for debris.
At lap 132, the second place car of Matt Kenseth suddenly shot down pit road complaining of a tire going down, after having run over what appeared to be a piece of metal on the track. Both tires were fine, but a lap later, NASCAR waved the yellow, and cleaned up the debris.
Kenseth's miscue dropped him to 17th place.
The field restarted with Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler and Mark Martin at the front of the pack, all of which chose not to pit. Gordon, however, appeared to have run over the debris on the track, and punched a hole in his front air-dam.
The nose damage did not affect the performance of the No. 24 Chevy, but Gordon just couldn't get the green flag laps to seal the deal. At lap 148, the caution unfurled again, for a flat tire on the No. 22 of Scott Wimmer.
Gordon continued to be the front contending car, as NASCAR's premium racers restarted with eight laps left to be completed. The Yates one-two punch of Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler were breathing down Gordon's rear as they sprinted to the finish.
But the cautions just kept coming.
With five laps to go, Ryan Newman smashed up the No. 12 Dodge after making contact with the No. 25 Chevy of Brian Vickers. Gordon fought off the hard- charging No. 88 Ford of Jarrett to earn his fourth victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Point leader Jimmie Johnson, has a disastrous day at Indianapolis. Johnson spun on lap 29; losing ground to the field, and never really seemed to recover. Crew chief, Chad Knaus, commented that the car was just not right and the 48 crew was struggling to make the proper adjustments.
Johnson ended up 36th, but maintains the top spot in points. Second place Jeff Gordon moves within 97 markers of Johnson. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-240), Tony Stewart (-334) and Matt Kenseth (-357) complete the top five.
See also: Gordon snubs victory lane