The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took a rare week off after New Hampshire and before Indianapolis in hot July. Drivers and team members may have cooled down a bit with precious time off, but they are likely to come back roaring.
An iconic 2.5-mile Brickyard racetrack awaits them with the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27.
Two-time Brickyard-winning driver Dale Jarrett, with crew chief Todd Parrott and team, originated the tradition of kissing the bricks after taking the checkered flag. That active legacy will no doubt continue for a long time. Jarrett shared his advice about the Brickyard for Sprint Cup Series rookies.
“Whichever tunnel you go in to go into this place, it's definitely a different feeling,” Jarrett said. “I would advise getting there a little early because your emotions can take over.”
When race fans swarm into Indy, the big place is known to rock. Jarrett described his first race there.
“When we got there on race day, down the front straightaway, it looked like a place that had been narrowed by two or three grooves. It was unbelievable.”
NSCS rookies will be challenged by the long, flat, low-banked IMS track with tricky corners, but so will veterans. Key NSCS leaders shared their take.
Brad Keselowski has been as hot as long summer days with recent wins in Nationwide and Sprint Cup. He shared his focus for the Brickyard race.
“We want to win everywhere we go, but the Brickyard does hold more significance with this team than most considering Roger Penske’s legacy at Indy,” Keselowski said. “We have had some strong runs there in the past, but we just haven’t put it all together.”
Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, is having a banner year. His comments added to the significance of the track for their team owner as well.
“It’s one of our biggest races of the year,” Logano said. “It’s one of the crown jewels. Everyone wants to win at Indianapolis. There are a handful of tracks that everyone wants to win at. Indy is one of them. And now, driving for Roger Penske, you want to win even more.”
Jimmie Johnson, with three NSCS wins, is looking to add to his statistics for Chase playoff insurance, but his comments were all about Indy.
“Everyone risks it all for Indianapolis,” Johnson said. “I understand how to drive the track, and I’m able to get us in that window to be competitive. It’s a huge honor to be out there kissing the bricks at the end—something I would love to do again.”
Jeff Gordon shared some technical aspects of the treasured track.
“The track presents a lot of challenges—how you brake, how you turn in, how you apply the throttle in each of those four corners—but it’s a lot of fun,” Gordon said. “And when you win, there is nothing sweeter than a win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. added his technical take for fans to contemplate: “The shape of the track is unique compared to anything else we race on. Indianapolis is a real technical track. The car must go through each corner pretty much the same, but all the corners are really different. That makes it a bit of a challenge.”
Kevin Harvick reminded many that Indy has its own glow.
“Indianapolis is a very unique track,” Harvick said. “I always wanted to grow up racing IndyCars. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of the event. It’s always a place where you want to win, but it’s fun to just go there and race to be a part of the next era of its history.”
Drivers and teams will soon be racing in the historic shadows of the fast evolution of vehicular speed. Goosebumps might go away for the green flag, but they will likely be back for the checkered flag.
Distant fans unable to trek to the spacious stands in Indianapolis, Indiana, can catch the NSCS action on ESPN at 1 p.m. Sunday.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.