No doubt that Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway belonged to Team Penske. Between winner Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, a Penske car led 236 of 267 laps in the Quaker State 400.
But while Penske dominated, the Hendrick Motorsports camp still had a good night in the Bluegrass State.
For the third consecutive Sprint Cup race, all four of their men came away with Top-10 finishes led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fifth.
Jeff Gordon, the current Sprint Cup points leader, finished sixth, followed by Kasey Kahne in eighth and defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in 10th.
Gordon was seeking to become the first driver ever to win on every active Sprint Cup track by taking the checkered flag Saturday night. But an air gun malfunction during a pit stop at Lap 127 caused him to fall from the Top 10 all the way to 23rd, severely damaging his hopes.
The four-time Cup champ was able to rally back inside the Top 10 late, but admitted to TNT afterwards that he thought their overall pace was going to be better.
“We did have the issues and got behind,” he said. “It seemed the car was pretty decent there at the end but not enough to really move up through there. It was pretty tough to pass and I thought we made the most of what happened to us today.”
Gordon also took back his comments on Friday about what he saw as Penske’s inability to carry over their stout qualifying pace to Race Day.
“I said they hadn’t been backing up their speed from qualifying, but they seemed to find it this weekend,” he said. “Wow, they were fast.”
Kahne also had to regroup during the race after trouble. On Lap 153, Kahne sustained some damage to his car in an incident that also involved Alex Bowman, Jamie McMurray, and Aric Almirola.
A slow late-race stop sent him further back, but Kahne was able to climb into the Top 10 by the checkered flag.
“I had to fight,” Kahne said. “We had some damage when the 1 [McMurray) stopped when another car was spinning. I couldn’t get stopped I hit him, the 43 (Almirola) hit him, just too many cars in one spot on the road.
“We had a bad pit stop at the end that put us 18th and got back to eighth, so I was really happy with the speed of our Great Clips Chevy – just too many errors if you want to run up front.”
As for Johnson, he said that his poor 25th-place starting position had an impact on his race.
“I would work my way to the front and get in the top 10, top five and then come down pit road and because of our poor qualifying position we just didn’t have a good pit stall,” he said.
“I was between the 10 (Danica Patrick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) and they were both fast all night long. I would lose five or six spots on pit road each time.
“…I think we were a competitive car and we could have been up there and maybe had a look at those guys in some clean air. But we just messed up on Friday and got behind the eight ball.”