Jeff Gordon had a restart to remember as the lap wound down in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday. He used that momentum to record his third victory of the season, and his third win at track.
For the upstart Joey Logano it was one restart too many, by his own admission.
Gordon used a restart to remember with 17 laps remaining in the 45th annual Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
On the last restart of the race, Gordon finally outdueled Logano for the lead after Logano had zoomed ahead on the three previous restarts to keep Gordon at bay in their battle that had materialized into a two-driver race.
Once in front, Gordon eased away to a victory over Kevin Harvick. The very disappointed Logano finished third, followed by Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It was Gordon’s third triumph this season and 91st in 748 NASCAR Sprint Cup races. The four-time Sprint Cup champion last won titles in 2001 and 1998. Both times he won races at both Indianapolis and Michigan. He has now duplicated that feat this season with three races remaining to set the field for the 16-driver, 10-race championship Chase.
“I kept getting in the inside lane and not getting good restarts and I knew that last restart was going to get exciting with Kurt (Busch) and Joey,” Gordon explained. “Those two are very, very aggressive.”
With Gordon and Logano lined up side by side on a restart with 23 laps to go, Kurt Busch made a very aggressive attempt to pass Gordon and then Logano for the lead but ended up brushing the wall.
That set up the final restart with 17 laps remaining which was all but destined to decide the race winner.
“That last restart was it,” Gordon said. “We had the car to win. Our car was amazing but whoever got out front had such a huge advantage. I got a good restart and Joey was sort of outside by himself. I was able to get to his quarter panel and drag him back. I was able to shoot to the bottom and get by Joey, but he made a heck of an effort and I thought he was going to get back by me.
“He almost did,” Gordon continued. “I just needed a couple of laps for my tires to come in, they did, and all of a sudden we were out front and the checkered flag was waving. This was unbelievably awesome.”
Logano, with his seventh top-10 finish in 12 races at MIS, felt he let this one get away, the last restart his downfall.
“We were battling on those restarts pretty hard, I used every trick in the book I had and I know the 24 (Gordon) was also laying back pretty hard,” Logano said. “Every game that could be played was being played on those restarts.
“I had a really good restart on that last one and I had a run, I was clear, I guess, and I should have pulled out in front of him. Instead, he had enough momentum, got to my quarter panel, pulled me back and he had position on me going into the corner. He carried that momentum into the lead. I’m going to relive that in my mind for the next two weeks.”
In the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, Gordon is now tied with Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, each with a total of three victories. All but four drivers are locked into the 16-driver Chase field with three races remaining before the Chase begins.
Greg Biffle, with a 10th-place finish, moved up one position into 16th place, based on total points Sunday. Kasey Kahne is in 17th, trailing Biffle by nine points following his 16th place finish.