Stewart and Gordon share one-lap salute after final Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon’s second “final” race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway went better than last year but an old nemesis still reared its ugly head as he battled through the field.

Stewart and Gordon share one-lap salute after final Brickyard 400
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Reed Sorenson, Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Cole Whitt, Premium Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, pit action
Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Restart: Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota leads
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“I got my butt kicked on those restarts,” said Gordon, who came out of retirement to fill-in Sunday for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who missed the race with concussion symptoms. “It was embarrassing. I was filling in for Dale Junior and I hope he’s doing good. I needed a fill-in on restarts.

“Other than that, I thought the race went really well. I really liked working with Greg (Ives, crew chief). It took us a little while to get the balance right (on the car) and he made an awesome pit call to come in early one time.

“We had a fast race car; we just needed track position and it was pretty tough to pass.”

Gordon, who spent the first half of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season as a TV analyst for Fox Sports, ended up finishing 13th. He will also drive Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet next week at Pocono.

“I didn’t needed all those cautions there at the end but I’m going to need to practice those restarts for Pocono anyway,” Gordon said. “I made up a bunch of spots on the last (restart) coming off Turn 4.

“I’m relieved it’s over on one hand but I would have liked to have gone a little better and I’m looking forward to Pocono.”

Post-race salute with Tony Stewart

Gordon, who started a standing ovation for rival Tony Stewart during the pre-race drivers meeting, was asked to join Stewart after the race for a final lap together around the Brickyard – a track that has meant a lot to both throughout their respective NASCAR careers.

“Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years but he and I have become really good friends,” Gordon said. “I was with him when he got hurt this year (driving a sand buggy) and I’ve seen how tough he is as a competitor.

“Now I know more about who Tony Stewart is. I am just proud that I was able to be here to race with him at his final race at Indy. Well, maybe, you never know. Last year was going to be my final race. You never know with Tony Stewart.”

While fans and even media may have had difficulty adjusting to seeing Gordon working with a team other than his iconic No. 24, Gordon said working with a different team in a Cup race was probably the least of his issues this weekend.

“It was different but I thought it went really well. The smoothness there, the communication, their information they gave me to prepare me for this race, there were many times I felt I was letting them down,” Gordon said.

“They never let me down and did an excellent job. We had some work to do in the beginning because we weren’t that good but made some adjustments and got better. We had a car capable of being (up front). I just wish I was better on those restarts.”

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