Gordon captures NASCAR Sprint Cup crown at MIS
After winning the pole position on Friday, recording a Michigan International Speedway (MIS) track record of 206.558 mph, Jeff Gordon edged out the competition on a late-race restart to win the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday. This is Gordon’s third win of the season and third at MIS — his first since 2001.
Cautions plagued the beginning of the race, with Kyle Bush hitting the wall on lap 5. On lap 22, Kyle Larson collided with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. while both were making a pit stop.
The next caution came with the restart on lap 25 when Danica Patrick made contact with teammate Jeff Burton, who was driving the No. 14 car in place of Tony Stewart. A nine-car pileup ensued.
The next caution came just before the midpoint of the race when Kyle Larson hit the wall hard, his car exploding into flames.
Larson was the first to test the new NASCAR rule requiring drivers to remain in their car under caution and prohibiting them from approaching other cars. Larson exited the car at the urging of his team, but stood by it until safety personnel arrived.
Two late-race cautions set up Gordon to clinch the win.
A restart with 23 laps to go had Kurt Bush attempting an aggressive pass on Gordon and Logano. Bush brushed the wall, setting up the late-race restart that allowed Gordon to slip ahead of Logano, who came in third behind Kevin Harvick. Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. claimed fourth and fifth place.
“I kept getting in the inside lane and not getting good restarts and I knew that last restart was going to get exciting with Kurt [Busch] and Joey,” Gordon explained. “Those two are very, very aggressive.”
Logano felt that he let the win get away, with the last race being his downfall.
“We were battling on those restarts pretty hard, I used every trick in the book I had and I know the 24 [Gordon] was also laying back pretty hard,” Logano said. “Every game that could be played was being played on those restarts.”
Logano had been able to keep Gordon at bay during the three previous restarts.
“That last restart was it,” Gordon said. “We had the car to win. Our car was amazing but whoever got out front had such a huge advantage. I got a good restart and Joey was sort of outside by himself. I was able to get to his quarter panel and drag him back. I was able to shoot to the bottom and get by Joey, but he made a heck of an effort and I thought he was going to get back by me.”
In the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, Gordon is now tied with Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, each with a total of three victories this season.