KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Nearly two decades after he burst onto the scene with his first victory, Jeff Gordon keeps taking checkered flags. He won the 5-Hour Energy 400 on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway for his first Sprint Cup Series victory of the season and 89th in NASCAR’s top series.
Gordon, 42, held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick on the final lap.
Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw was third, the first time in 11 races this season he has finished better than eighth.
Danica Patrick was seventh, the best Sprint Cup finish of her career. She was eighth in the 2013 Daytona 500.
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“This is the kind of stuff that materializes in wins,” Patrick said. “We’ve just got to keep hanging around and doing what we’re doing.”
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 16th.
Gordon won for the first time since October, when he prevailed in Martinsville, Va. He entered the weekend with the series points lead, but said a weight was lifted off his shoulders as he crossed the finish line for his third Kansas victory.
“I’m just so proud of (the 24 Chevrolet team). They have been giving me the best race cars all year long,” Gordon said. “I have been having so much fun. I’m going to be 43 this year and I feel like I’m 25 again. That is the way they make me feel.”
Harvick led a race-high 119 laps in the 400-mile race — small consolation once Gordon grabbed the lead with eight to go. His Chevrolet ran out of gas on his last pit stop and he lost time he couldn’t make up.
“I should have been paying attention to my pit-road lights and should have got off pit road better,” Harvick said. “I made a mistake at the end and it cost us a chance to stay out in front of the 24.”
Pagenaud, chaos rule at Indy
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Motor Speedway officially opened for the month of May with an eventful road-course race that started with a wreck, saw James Hinchcliffe and the mayor of the city injured by flying debris and, finally, Simon Pagenaud celebrate a fuel-mileage victory.
Pagenaud won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the first IndyCar Series race on the IMS road course, by stretching his fuel the final 29 laps.
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second. Helio Castroneves was third.
Hinchcliffe was taken from the track on a stretcher and transported to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion after he was hit in the head by debris. A replay appeared to show debris from a car in front of him flew into his cockpit after a restart.
The race began with a violent wreck when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled on the standing start. He was hit by multiple cars, and debris struck Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard as he waved the green flag.
Ballard was hit on the left arm and his upper body. A spokesman for the mayor said Ballard had scrapes and bruises.