The Sprint Cup Series points leader is now also a winner.
Jeff Gordon held off a furious last-lap challenge from Kevin Harvick to win Saturday night’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway, his first victory of the 2014 season and 89th of his career.
Gordon is the ninth winner in the first 11 races of the season. The win is his third at Kansas, the most of any driver.
Kasey Kahne finished third, Joey Logano fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fifth. Danica Patrick finished seventh, a career-best.
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The start of the race was delayed about 30 minutes by a severe thunderstorm in the area of the race track which arrived right near the start.
Once the race began, Harvick, the pole-winner, took early control, leading the first 41 laps.
A round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 41 but before they were completed, Clint Bowyer spun which brought out a caution on Lap 48.
After a round of pit stops, Brad Keselowski took over lead on the restart on Lap 53 but was quickly overtaken by Harvick.
A four-car wreck involving Michael Annett, David Ragan, Landon Cassill and Ryan Truex brought out the race’s second caution on Lap 61. A handful of lead-lap cars pitted for tires and fuel, but Harvick continued to lead on the restart on Lap 67.
Denny Hamlin took a solo spin on Lap 71 to bring out the third caution. Again, a handful of lead-lap cars made pit stops and Harvick remained out front on Lap 75.
Another round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 102 but once again they were interrupted by a caution when Marcos Ambrose spun on Lap 110.
During the caution, Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding on pit road, and Jimmie Johnson reported he was having problems with the clutch. After teams completed pit stops, a row of backstretch lights lost power, but NASCAR checked with drivers and elected to continue racing.
On the restart on Lap 161, Earnhardt took the lead followed by Kahne and Logano.
Logano moved into the lead on Lap 122, and Kahne took the lead for the first time on Lap 140.
On Lap 151, Jamie McMurray slammed into the wall and his car caught fire from a break in his oil line. McMurray was not injured.
“I just entered Turn 3 and I heard a small pop and then just lost all the steering and got into the fence and then knocked the oil lines and everything off which caused the fire,” McMurray said. “I’m not sure we didn’t really have any tire issues all weekend.”
On the restart on Lap 161, Kahne led the way followed by Tony Stewart and Hamlin.
Kurt Busch spun to bring out the sixth caution of the race on Lap 180. Johnson and Kyle Busch elected not to pit and took over the first and second positions, respectively, on the restart on Lap 185. They were followed by Logano, Kahne and Earnhardt.
A.J. Allmendinger got loose and spun on Lap 187 in an incident that also collected Casey Mears, Justin Allgaier and David Gilliland. Gilliland’s car took the biggest hit, and he walked gingerly from his car to the ambulance.
“That is one of the hardest hits I have had in awhile. Hopefully it will be the hardest one for awhile to come, too,” he said. “I am fine though, just ready to get on with it.”
Several lead-lap cars elected to pit under the caution. On the restart on Lap 195, Johnson led followed by Logano, Kyle Busch and Harvick. Logano quickly moved into the lead after the restart.
Kurt Busch again spun on Lap 203 to bring out the eighth caution. On the restart on Lap 208, Logano led followed by Harvick and Earnhardt.
Teams began making their final green-flag pit stops of the race on Lap 236.
With 10 laps remaining, Keselowski held the lead but still required another pit stop. Gordon was in second, followed by Harvick.
One lap later, Keselowski pitted and Gordon inherited the lead.