LONG POND, Pa. — Jeff Gordon turned a nostalgic weekend at the Brickyard into a powerful reminder that he can still win NASCAR’s biggest races.

Oh, and a fifth championship.

But for all the proof that Gordon is still a driver to contend with in a championship push, he realizes he’s not in the same physical condition when he won his first Brickyard in 1994. Gordon turns 43 on Monday with an achy back that he feels when settling behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet.

“It’s not great, that’s for sure,” Gordon said.

Gordon hasn’t been the same since he felt consistent, shooting back pain before the Coca-Cola 600 in May. He cut short his practice sessions, had treatments and needed a standby driver.

Gordon had serious issues years ago in his lower spine and returned to full strength thanks to anti-inflammatory medication and workouts with a trainer. He drove in pain during a winless 2008 season and briefly contemplated retirement.

For all his back woes, Gordon said he never felt the stabbing pain like he did at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I don’t think my back is ever going to be the same after what happened at Charlotte,” Gordon said. “I don’t know what exactly transpired there, but it’s not the same. And I have to be much more careful. I’m just having to treat it more with ice and (stimulation) and be more careful and do more stretching. Is it going to flare-up again? It could. But I’m just trying to be more cautious with the things that I do that I feel like contribute to that.”

Gordon never showed any signs of discomfort on the track last weekend at Indy, pulling away from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne on the final restart to win for the second time this season. Gordon holds the points lead heading into Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway, where he’s a six-time winner.

Gordon and Kahne staged a similar battle in last August’s race at Pocono. Unlike last week at Indy, Kahne won the restart and the race. Cruising from the outside, Kahne got the jump he needed, zipped past Gordon and pulled away with two laps left for the win.

He could be in the mix Sunday – along with Gordon, and Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The drivers have won the last four races at the track.

In qualifying Friday afternoon, Kyle Larson set a track record of 183.438 mph to win his first career Sprint Cup pole. Larson could use a victory to secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, though he would make the 16-car field as it stands on points. He became NASCAR’s first Drive for Diversity graduate to win a Cup pole.

Denny Hamlin set the record of 181.415 in June.

Joey Logano will join Larson on the front row. Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.

TRUCK SERIES: Austin Dillon pulled away on the final restart to win Saturday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

Dillon won his first Truck race of the season. His win came a week after his brother, Ty, won the Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Dillon eluded Clint Bowyer and the rest of the field on the final restart of a caution-filled end to the race.

Johnny Sauter, Joey Coulter, Bowyer and Ryan Blaney completed the top five. Kyle Larson led from the pole for an early part of the race until his truck suffered engine issues and he faded to 18th.

Bowyer was driving for John Wes Townley, who was held out of all racing following a crash Friday at Pocono Raceway.