BROOKLYN, Mich. — It had been 13 years since Jeff Gordon’s last victory at Michigan — which came during the same season as his most recent championship on NASCAR’s top series.
One of those droughts is finally over. Can the 43-year-old driver end the other as well?
“Certainly things are going well — there’s no doubt about that,” Gordon said. “I’m as shocked as anybody else.”
Gordon broke the track qualifying record Friday when he took the pole at 206.558 mph. He followed that up with his third Cup victory at MIS — and took over the points lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
After a series of cautions, Gordon came off the final restart well and led with 16 laps remaining. He fought off a challenge from Joey Logano and maintained a comfortable margin over Harvick, winning the 400-mile race by 1.412 seconds in his No. 24 Chevrolet.
“Joey, as we rolled up to some of the restarts — not that last one, but some of the other ones — as guys were starting to sort of anticipate it, he was slowing down, and when he slowed down, everybody got bottled up, and then he’d take off,” Gordon said. “That last one, I thought he had a good start, but I had a good one, too.”
“I think all of our teams are running well, but this is a big, big win,” owner Rick Hendrick said. “It’s great to see Jeff so happy. He’s like a little kid again, so I think it’s going to be really, really important for the momentum he’s carrying right now into the Chase.”
“We can win a championship. I really feel we can do that. That’s the message I want to put out there,” Logano said. “We’ve got to find a little bit more speed to keep up with one car today — 24 car was the best, only because he was good on the long run. We weren’t as good on the long run.
There were eight cautions, including a fairly early one when Danica Patrick’s car spun and Justin Allgaier crashed into her. Nine cars were caught up in that incident, including Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota.
Kenseth never really recovered, finishing 38th.
Brad Keselowski rubbed against the wall with about 32 laps remaining and finished eighth, remaining winless at this track in his home state. Johnson overcame some problems of his own to finish ninth, his first top-10 showing in six races.