INDIANAPOLIS – With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.
Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.
Gordon’s first Indy triumph came before the celebratory kissing of the Yard of Bricks was en vogue, before he became a household name. Now a family man with an aching back, Gordon used Sunday to show he is still at the top of his game.
“If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere,” said Gordon, who has led the Sprint Cup Series standings for 13 of the last 14 weeks. “It’s certainly going to be a huge confidence boost for this team.”
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Gordon, who competes for Hendrick Motorsports, needed a strong finish.
Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw led a race-high 70 laps and seemed only to be racing against his gas tank when a late caution put the race back into Gordon’s hands. He would have one shot at passing Kahne, on a dreaded restart with 17 laps remaining.
Gordon has struggled with restarts for several years. And Kahne, who is winless this season, could use a victory to earn a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship field.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Kahne said.
Kahne picked the lower, inside lane for the restart, and Gordon found himself on the outside — exactly where he wanted to be. Gordon shifted into fourth gear and surged past Kahne on the outside, and Gordon kicked it into cruise control as he sailed away.
“I think we both knew that was for the win,” Gordon said of Kahne. “Out of nowhere, I have the restart of my life at the most important moment that you could ask for in a race, in a season, at a race like this. That was just awesome.”
Kahne plummeted to fifth after the restart, then ran out of gas on the final lap and had to nurse his car home to a sixth-place finish. He said he erred in picking the inside path for the restart.
“I should have chosen the top (lane), obviously,” he said. “I pretty much let Jeff control that last restart. I thought I made the right decision.”
After saying Gordon was faster, Kahne added, “I would have loved to win at the Brickyard. We had a good car.
“I thought I gave it all I had.”
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., finished 13th.
It was announced that Biffle re-signed with Roush Fenway Racing. Meanwhile, Carl Edwards informed team officials he will drive elsewhere next year.
• Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull overtook Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso near the end of the race to win a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, his second Formula One victory of the season and of his career.
• Courtney Force beat father John Force in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in California to snap a tie with sister Ashley Force Hood for career Funny Car victories by a female driver with five.
Other winners were Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).