Jeff Gordon beat home a charging Kevin Harvick at Kansas Speedway to take his first win of 2014 and book his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Gordon, who had been leading the series in points going in to the first night race at Kansas, took the lead from Harvick in the final round of green-flag pitstops , holding back the pole-sitter in a last lap dash to the line.
“What a huge weight lifted off this team’s shoulders,” said Gordon. “We’ve been leading the points but we needed to get to victory lane and this proved that we are capable of doing it. This has always been one of my favourite tracks. This was a very, very special win.”
Harvick was in the top spot for a race-best of 119 laps, but a slow pit stop in the final round of green-flag stops allowed Gordon to get the jump on the driver of the #4 Chevrolet.
“In the end, I ran out of gas coming to pit road and I was paying attention to that and then I didn’t get enough RPMs on pit road,” said Harvick. “And then I didn’t get out of my box very well and he wound up getting by me there.”
Kasey Kahne ended the race in third, with Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounding out the top five, giving Hendrick Motorsports a strong race, claiming first, third and fifth.
It was a strong night also for Danica Patrick, who had her best race at a non-restrictor plate track. Starting from ninth, she held her own for the first half of the race before charging forward, passing both team boss Tony Stewart and Earnhardt, Jr. to take third on lap 162. A slow pit stop under caution dropped Patrick back down the field, but she rallied back to finish in a career-high placing of seventh.
“Honestly, the most rewarding part of my night was probably when I drove around the outside of [Jimmie] Johnson on a restart,” said Patrick. “I say that with all the respect in the world. It’s a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson. Aside from that, I was really just overall proud that we stayed up front. That was the biggest thing.”
“She’s run well all weekend. Qualified well, raced well all night,” said Harvick of his team-mate. “I guess one thing I did tell her was to quit thinking about it and mash the gas. Sometimes your car is never going to be perfect, and you just have to take what it will give you and expect that every time you pit it’s going to get better and if it’s not, you adjust and move on.”
Finishing ahead of Patrick in sixth was Carl Edwards, while Aric Almirola, Johnson and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top ten.