Jeff Gordon hopes history repeats itself.
Gordon won the NASCAR race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, his first victory at the two-mile oval since 2001, the same year Gordon captured the last of his four Sprint Cup Series titles.
Now Gordon hopes Sunday’s victory, his third of the season, will be part of his march toward a fifth championship.
“This team is championship caliber but we have a lot of work to do,” Gordon said, adding that winning another title is “going to be tough.”
Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet was fast all weekend and he started from the pole position. But he had his hands full with Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford.
“It wasn’t an easy victory even though we had a great race car,” Gordon said.
Logano led a race-high 86 of the 200 laps and, after the final restart, he and Gordon battled side by side for the lead.
But Gordon, 43, pulled away and never relinquished the lead. Logano lost his momentum and fell to third place.
“It’s great to see Jeff so happy, he’s like a little kid again,” said Gordon’s team owner, Rick Hendrick. “He’s excited to get to the track.”
Kevin Harvick finished second, Paul Menard was fourth and Gordon teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth.
Another Gordon teammate, six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, had a roller-coaster race.
After Johnson started 30th, the gear shifter broke in his No. 48 Chevy, forcing his crew to perform makeshift repairs during a pit stop. But Johnson persevered to finish ninth.
Several cars were damaged in an early crash that started when Jeff Burton , who was substituting for Tony Stewart , made slight contact with Stewart teammate Danica Patrick .
Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet then spun in the middle of the pack, collecting the cars of several drivers, including Matt Kenseth , Justin Allgaier , Michael Annett and Martin Truex Jr.
Stewart sat out the race in the aftermath of the Aug. 9 incident in which his car struck and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr., 20, while Ward was on foot during a sprint-car race in upstate New York.
Burton, driving Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy, started 27th and the car developed an electrical problem that required lengthy repairs. Burton finished 37th in the 43-car field.