Jeff Gordon and the Brickyard 400 have a lengthy history together. As such, the 21'st annual Brickyard 400 on July 27 couldn't really have any other winner but Gordon. 20 years after he got his first victory at Indianapolis, Gordon got his Indianapolis Speedway record-tying fifth triumph, to further solidify his place on top of the point standings.
When Gordon won NASCAR's first ever race at Indianapolis in 1994, it launched NASCAR into a new wave of popularity and officially launched his own career. He went on to win four championships in the next seven years, yet the soon to be 43-year-old Gordon hasn't won a Sprint Cup crown since 2001. As it stands now, however, 2014 may be his best chance in a long time to change that.
Gordon got closer at the Brickyard 400 by passing race leader Kasey Kahne after a late caution. Kahne had control for much of the race by leading 70 of 200 laps, yet a weak restart put him behind for good and doomed him to a sixth-place finish. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Joey Legano rounded out the top five, yet none of them seriously threatened Gordon in the final laps.
Indianapolis favorite Danica Patrick finished next-to-last, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. got to ninth but still fell further behind in the point standings. Thanks to his second victory of the year, Gordon holds a 24 point lead over Earnhardt, with six race left to settle the Chase for the Cup field.
Gordon was already set to make the cut before the Brickyard 400, especially since he has led in the standings for all but one week in the last few months. Unless he has some poor finishes and others win a race or two in the next month, he should be high up in the standings when he really starts his quest for a fifth championship.
Gordon already has his fifth win in the Brickyard 400, which is once again the most for any NASCAR driver after breaking a tie with Jimmie Johnson. It also ties him with Michael Schumacher for most victories in Indianapolis Speedway history. However, the races that will determine Gordon's championship fate are not held at Indy.