BROOKLYN, Mich.— With 17 laps to go, Jeff Gordon was in second place.
He had already survived one restart that saw the car in front of him get loose and hit the wall, and the final restart of Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway was crucial.
"That last restart was it. We had the car to win. Our car was amazing. But whoever got out in front had such a huge advantage," Gordon said.
Lined up on the inside, Gordon quickly jumped in front of his competitor, and though the second-place car got a good run on him, Gordon and the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS pulled away and never looked back.
"I just needed a couple of laps for my tires to come in and all of a sudden we were out front and setting sail and the checkered flag was waving," he said. "This is just unbelievably awesome."
The trip to Victory Lane was Gordon's third of the season—and second in the past four races.
Gordon became the third Hendrick Motorsports driver to notch three wins this season, joining Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he credited everyone in the organization for that type of sustained success.
“It’s everything," he said. "It’s Hendrick Motorsports and the job that they do, collectively, with all of our teammates and the engineers. Everybody who is building the chassis and the bodies and the cars back at the shop; the engines are amazing."
Gordon said crew chief Alan Gustafson called a "perfect race," which was one more piece in a full team effort.
"These guys, they’re just awesome," Gordon said. "[Hendrick Motorsports Owner] Rick Hendrick is here and I love celebrating wins with him.”
As for the No. 24 team's mindset, it's as if the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has already started.
Gordon said he believes the team is "championship caliber," but acknowledged that there is still work to do.
That's why the team is approaching every event like the Chase has begun even with three races remaining in the regular season.
"We don’t want anything to change and do anything different when we get to Chicago, other than keep going and charging for those wins," Gordon said. "That is what we did today. I’m just so proud. Thanks to all the fans. We had an awesome Michigan crowd here today. To win here in Michigan in the backyard of Chevrolet driving this Chevrolet SS is always special.”