It seemed as if it could have been scripted.
20 years after Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400, on ‘Jeff Gordon Day’, he scored his second win of the 2014 season and record fifth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, led the most laps, but Gordon took advantage of a late restart and was able to power by Kahne on the outside, take the lead and never look back.
The cream most-certainly rose to the top at Indy. Eight of the top 10 in Power Rankings after New Hampshire two weeks ago finished in the top 10 Sunday afternoon. Kasey Kahne ran strong and led laps but was not able to capitalize on the final restart and finished a disappointing sixth, still seeking that all-important win to lock him into the Chase. Rookie Kyle Larson continues to prove why he should be 2014 Rookie of the Year, finishing seventh. However, his closest competitor, Austin Dillon, also finished in the top 10.
Only six races until the Chase begins and a number of drivers are still looking for that elusive win to lock themselves into the Chase, or at least be high enough in points. Teams return to Pocono for the second and final time this season. But before they start the search for Turn Four, see if your favorite driver left Indianapolis with momentum in the right direction.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
Gordon certainly seems to get more cheers now than he did about 10 years ago. I’m not sure if it’s because fans have softened their view of him, as he heads into the twilight of his career, or if they are just so happy that someone other than Jimmie Johnson won. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 5
Keselowski struggled for much of the day on Sunday, which was very surprising considering how dominant he was at Pocono and New Hampshire, both of which are flat tracks like Indy. Look for a bounce back weekend for B.K. and the No. 2 team who led 95 laps at Pocono in June. Justin Tucker, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 2
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Eight straight top-10 finishes, including a win despite only 12 laps led. Ever so quietly, Earnhardt’s reaching his peak during the Farewell Tour of Steve Letarte. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 1
Johnson was uncharacteristically weak in the second half of the race on Sunday. It’s very rare that a four-time winner at Indianapolis drops off a cliff when the going gets tough. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
I still think he is the Gibbs car with the most championship potential. But what does that mean? They are getting better every week, but the competition is going to improve once the Chase begins too. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
With 13 top-10 finishes, Matt Kenseth is the strongest winless Chase contender with six races to go before the cutoff. Eleven different drivers have won in 20 races. It’s doubtful that five more winless drivers will get to Victory Lane in six races. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Part of three Joe Gibbs Racing cars inside the top 5, for the first time in the organization’s 22-year history. So what do you do with that type of perfection? Expand to four cars in 2015! Hamlin’s on a good streak as of late but he has to be thinking, “Am I going to drop to fourth in the pecking order? Really!?” Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
Roger Penske stacked the deck adding Montoya to his driver lineup for the weekend. I can only imagine how badly he wants to win at Indy in a stock car. It seems to come so easy in the IndyCar Series. Michael Mehedin, Frontstretch.com
I am a big believer in this team on Fridays and Saturdays. Less so on Sundays. Will that change when the Chase starts? Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
About an 11th place car virtually every week. That’s probably going to be good enough to make the postseason. But it shouldn’t be good enough to go very far, making Newman the potential litmus test of NASCAR’s new format. Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com
It would be an almost magical season for Kyle Larson and team if he gets a win and a Chase spot. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
A 15th place finish at The Brickyard followed an allegedly “successful” test at MIS, then a rather obtuse announcement from Roush Fenway Racing that Edwards would not be part of the fray in 2015. Fitting, and leaving little wonder as to why he’s bailing. Vito Pugliese, Frontstretch.com
Last year he took the win from Gordon on a restart in Pocono. Sunday Gordon made it known that he took one back. Only this time Kahne needed the win much more than last year. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
What Bowyer lacked in speed Sunday he made up for in radio humor. Kelly Crandall, PopularSpeed.com
Put Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson in one of those lotto ping-pong ball machines. Turn it on and mix them around. Doesn’t matter which one you pick – they’ve had nearly identical rookie campaigns. Although Dillon has been more consistent. Jim Noble, ESPN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/PRN
Others Receiving Votes: JGreg Biffle (33), Tony Stewart (30), Kurt Busch (28), Paul Menard (26), Jamie McMurray (17), Aric Almirola (12), Brian Vickers (10), AJ Allmendinger (6), Marcos Ambrose (2)