KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jeff Gordon took the lead from Kevin Harvick during the final set of pit stops during Saturday night's 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway and held Harvick off at the line by less than a car-length for his 89th career victory.
Harvick had the evening's dominant car – heck Gordon even said so after the race – and methodically worked his way back to the front of the field after he was twice was trapped in the middle of the pack when caution flags came out during green flag pit stop cycles.
And he was leading when he headed to pit road for the final time. However, when Harvick ran out of gas getting on pit road, Gordon was able to take advantage.
"Then there at the end, we ran out of gas coming to pit road there, and I was looking at the fuel pressure gauge instead of the tach and I lost a bunch of time down pit road and off of pit road, wound up getting stuck behind (Gordon)," Harvick said.
Gordon had pitted two laps before Harvick and didn't realize he was ahead of him until he saw Harvick on the backstretch. He then was able to maintain the advantage over Harvick, who led 119 laps, as the margin between the two yo-yoed going through lapped traffic.
"That whole last run was really strange for me," Gordon said. "I felt like we had a good stop ... and a lap or two later I saw Kevin come off pit road on the back straightaway, got ahead of him and knew it was on at that moment."
"At the end, I was trying to stay away from traffic," he said. "I didn't want to get closed in on anybody, wanted to try to have a clean lap. (On the final lap) I got through one and two pretty good and I got over to three and the car just went completely sideways on me and I couldn't get in the gas. And I felt I'd look like a bigger idiot if I spun out leading than just trying to make sure I get back to the line first. And so I gave up some speed there, but we won the race."
The speed Gordon gave up allowed Harvick to close a significant gap over the final two corners. But it wasn't enough.
The last time Gordon was in the lead late in a race with a rock-solid chance for a win was at California earlier this season. But as he was heading towards the white flag, a caution came out for Clint Bowyer's spin. Gordon subsequently lost the lead during pit stops and finished 13th. He got the lead at the beginning of a green-white-checker restart at Texas because of a two-tire pit stop, but was no match for Joey Logano and his four fresh tires.
There was no pit decision or restart to worry about Saturday night, and it led to a win. With it, Gordon is now virtually locked into the Chase and he also extended his points lead to 15 over Matt Kenseth.
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