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Brickyard Reports



SPEEDWAY, IN.- - Should Jeff Gordon win Saturday's Brickyard 400, he'll win $1,000,000 as part of the Winston No Bull Five program. Gordon, the 1994 winner of the event, would like nothing more than to win the race, collect the bonus, and pad his points lead. Check this page for daily reports leading up to Saturday's Brickyard 400.


By Brian Holly


Friday, July 31

Thursday, July 30

Wednesday, July 29


Friday, July 31

A picture perfect day at the Brickyard. Sunny skies with a light breeze. In second round qualifying, drivers were letting it all hang out in an effort to make the race. Gary Bradberry, Dan Pardus, and Derrike Cope all had enounters with the wall which sent them home early. In mid-afternoon, the IROC race started. It's quite difficult to pick out drivers in the bland cars. Maybe a number or a name on the hood would be better. On lap 3, Arie Luyendyk crashed hard into the inside retaining wall. Upon impact, he came back across the track. Luckily, nobody hit Arie's car but the ripple effects were felt. Jeff Gordon slowed and was hit from behind by Jeff Burton who severly damaged the front of his car. Mark Martin went on to win the race and the IROC title as he passed Jimmy Vasser near the end of the race. Gordon came home in 9th and finished 3rd overall in the standings.

In the final Winston Cup practice, Gordon was 6th fastest overall on the speed chart which should bode well for tomorrow's race. There were probably about 100,000 people at the track today. At most race tracks, that's more than their capacity. At the Brickyard, it's just a preliminary day crowd. More than a few fans will head over to IRP for the Busch race tonight. But, I've gotten my fill of racing today; my ears need some time to recover. It's been an enjoyable 3 days leading up to the Brickyard 400. Tomorrow is what it's all about though.


Thursday, July 30

The day started out partly cloudy but the rain showers moved in by the early afternoon. In morning practice, Jeff turned the fastest lap with a speed over 178 miles per hour; it easily broke the track record of 177+. During the rain delay, there wasn't a whole lot to do except to strike up some conversations with the fans in the grandstand. A banner that caught my attention was made by Debbie Huntson which simply read, "Indiana Loves Jeff Gordon. Welcome Home." Race fans in other parts of the country may feel that Gordon hasn't paid his dues in racing. That he was just handed a good car. I asked Debbie about that. She said, "Those fans never saw him race at Eldora or Winchester. He paid his dues alright." Took the words right out of my mouth practically. Qualifying got underway at about 5:00. Ernie Irvan turned a lap over 179 miles per hour. Which was untouchable for the rest of the day. Gordon was one of the last car to make a qualifying lap and the crowd was on its feet cheering the DuPont Chevrolet. He placed third, but the crowd roared as he got out of the car. He gets booed unmercifully at almost every NASCAR track; but not the Brickyard. It was a welcome change to hear the crowd roaring its approval for Jeff Gordon. You almost have to wish they could bottle the cheers and bring it to every track.

The IROC race is scheduled for tomorrow. Mark Martin has the title all but locked up, but the race should be a fun one to watch. Today was an exceptionally long day at the track. The humidity combined with the rain has made writing this out and faxing seem tedious. But, the roar of the crowd for Jeff Gordon during qualifying was very cool. Something you almost have to wish would be done a little more often on the NASCAR circuit.


Wednesday, July 29

The carnival has arrived in Indianapolis. The headline in the Indianapolis Star and News screams about the Brickyard 400. And Robin Miller writes about the "Gordon to CART, Gordon to F1" rumors once again. So he spoke to Team Green (CART) a few years back. That's old news. Souvenir trailers outside the gates of the Brickyard are busy hawking the latest in driver merchandise. The obligatory "Welcome Race Fans" signs appear on everything from restaurants to local watering holes. The stars of NASCAR took to the track for a morning practice session followed by IROC practice. During the afternoon practice session, a passing shower dumped a lot of rain on to the track. The winds picked up and it seemed like a mini-hurricane.

'Hey where did we go
Days when the rains came
Out to the Brickyard
Playin' that NASCAR game'
After twenty minutes of a driving rainstorm, the sun came back out and the cars soon took to the track once again. As per custom of the No Bull Five, the drivers participating have red spoilers and a dollar sign on the right side window. Since the spoiler on Jeff Gordon's car is already red as part of the originial paint scheme, the yellow #24 on the roof has been changed to a red #24. In the scope of things, it's hardly noticeable among all the new paint schemes and new drivers at Indy. Michael Waltrip is driving a blue Citgo Ford. Mark Martin's car looks to be a shade of gray. Darrell Waltrip is behind the wheel of the Tabasco Chevrolet. Not to mention the debut of the #15 Rescue Ford driven by Loy Allen and Robby Gordon driving the #19 car. Die cast sales should be rising; as always.

As far as practice speeds go, Martin was the fastest followed by Dale Jarrett. Joe Nemechek was the fastest in testing in mid-July and turned one of the fast laps of the day. Gordon was among the fastest cars, 8th overall on the day. Jeff said that the car felt, "Pretty good," so a good qualifying lap is likely. The weather forecast for Thursday calls for partly cloudy skies with a chance of a thunderstorm. And more humidity. The qualifying draw was held for Thursday's timed session. Out of 51 cars at the track, the DuPont Chevrolet will be the 47th car to qualify. Usually, cars qualifying later in the day are able to pick up speed compared to cars qualifying in the midst of the afternoon heat. As the day concludes, traffic exiting the Brickyard is relatively light. This will be the last time that traffic will be light on Crawfordsville Road for awhile. Qualifying is on tap for tomorrow. So far, so good.



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