Counting down Jeff Gordon’s five best races; No. 2: 2014 Brickyard 400
Editor’s note: As the final week of Jeff Gordon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup career continues, FOXSports.com is counting down the four-time champion’s top five Sprint Cup wins.
No. 2: 2014 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
When NASCAR first made the trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994, it was sophomore driver Jeff Gordon that took the checkered flag and cemented his name in motorsports history.
Twenty years later, Gordon made history once again, becoming only the second driver in Indianapolis history with five victories at the famed track that opened in 1909, tying Formula One legend Michael Schumacher.
Entering the day’s Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard, Gordon started second to red-hot Kevin Harvick. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was able to get by Harvick on the second lap to take the top spot, a lead he would hold on to for the next 20 laps.
Throughout the day, Gordon had to contend with the likes of Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and his Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne, who had the strongest car throughout the race.
Chasing his teammate for much of the afternoon, Gordon caught a break when the caution flew on Lap 139. Restarting to the outside of Kahne, Gordon got a great jump and was able to clear his teammate for the lead as they exited Turn 1.
Holding on to the top spot for the final 17 laps of the race, Gordon drove to his fifth Brickyard 400 victory, which was his 90th overall Sprint Cup Series win.
Watching history unfold before their eyes, Gordon said it was hard to ignore the fans in the grandstands over the final laps of the race.
"I was trying so hard with 10 to go not to focus on the crowd," said Gordon. "I could see — every once in a while I’d glance up there and see the reactions and I’d try not to let it get to me. But, man, you can’t help it. It’s such a big race, such an important victory, a crucial moment in the season and the championship. The emotions take over. I’ve got my kids here. … There’s nothing better than coming to Victory Lane, especially with your family here."
For the fifth and final time, Gordon celebrated the landmark victory in front of his home crowd, this time with his family on hand to join in the celebrations.
Earning his second win of the season and setting him up for a run in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Gordon explained this victory was bigger than any other to that point.
"In my opinion, for me personally, this is it," Gordon said of the Brickyard 400. "This is as good as it gets.
"We all know the significance of the Daytona 500," he said. "To me, what I love about this race, besides we’re here at Indianapolis, as a kid growing up I just idolized the drivers that raced here, and to me this was just the ultimate place.
"The difference is that at Daytona it’s a restrictor-plate track, it’s drafting, it’s avoiding these wrecks, all these things, where here it’s just to me the total team effort," he added. "You have to get it done with a great racecar. You do it on restarts. You have to have good pit stops, pit strategy. It’s the total team effort. At the same time it’s a very historical place."