Twenty years ago, a 23-year old kid, who spent much of his life in the state of Indiana, took the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  It was the first time stock cars raced at the world-famous 2.5 mile track, and it was one of what would become many milestones for Jeff Gordon.

Yesterday, Gordon collected a NASCAR record 5th win at the Brickyard 400.  The soon-to-be 43 year-old drove much like it was 1994.  Gordon’s aggressiveness was on display early and often.  To make the afternoon perfect, the car matched the driver, as minimal, if any, adjustments were needed for the 24 Axalta Chevrolet.

The win is also a second historic mark for Gordon.  It’s his 90th Sprint Cup Series victory.  Only Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) have larger checkered flag collections.

As for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway record book, Gordon has tied Michael Schumacher (Formula One) for the most wins at the famous yard of bricks.  The other drivers who have four wins are NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson as well as A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser Sr., who are four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, a feat that Gordon has said is far greater than his stock car wins.

Chasing The Other 5

The win locks Gordon into The Chase For The Sprint Cup.  Winning NASCAR’s playoff would give him a 5th Sprint Cup title.  Gordon is the points leader, but due to NASCAR’s emphasis on wins, he is currently third in The Chase standings.  That could change, if he harnesses yesterday’s momentum during the next six weeks of racing leading up to The Chase.

Rear Gear

Danica Patrick had high hopes for this year’s Brickyard 400 after a disappointing 2013.  She started 14th and ran in and near the Top 10, until a broken rear gear ended her day.  The 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet finished in 42nd, but still earned $131,725 thanks to the incredible $9,337,733 purse of the race.  By the way, Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports team took home $434,376.

Disgruntled Dale

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having a great season.  Two wins and nearly guaranteed to make The Chase have the driver of the 88 National Guard Chevrolet talking, and now Tweeting, different.

However, Jr. was a little disgruntled prior to the race.  His demeanor during a radio interview was as bad as I’ve heard in a long time and nothing like how he’s sounded in 2014.  Jr. was upset with his car’s handling in final practice and his 23rd place qualifying spot, but he was in a much better mood following his 9th place finish.

Changing Carl

Carl Edwards stated yesterday that “change is good.”  Soon, we will learn what that means exactly.

Prior to the drop of the green flag, Roush-Fenway officially announced that Edwards will not return to their team in 2015.  Edwards refused to say who he will drive for next season, but Ford admitted he won’t be in one of their cars.

His likely landing spot is Joe Gibbs Racing.

Lug Notes

  • Indiana native Tony Stewart had another disappointing day at The Brickyard.  Despite starting 6th, he finished 17th. 
  • Denny Hamlin wasn’t happy prior to the race nor at times during the race, but his crew chief’s strategy eventually worked.  Hamlin finished 3rd.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya, who is no longer a full-time driver in NASCAR, drove for Roger Penske yesterday.  JPM made his presence, and his win or go home attitude, felt early, as he nearly wrecked Paul Menard. JPM finished 23rd.
  • Kasey Kahne led the most laps, but he was no match for Gordon on the final restart or final laps of the race. Kahne ran out of gas on the final lap, but finished in 6th.
  • Surprisingly, Jimmie Johnson finished 14th, and more surprising, he rarely ran inside the Top 10 nor did he lead a lap.
  • Two rookies finished in the Top 10. Kyle Larson was 7th and Austin Dillon was 10th.

Next Week

It’s back to the mountains of Pennsylvania for the season’s second race at Pocono Raceway.  Coverage of the 400 begins on ESPN at 12:30 ET.