Since 1911, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been home to the famed Indianapolis 500, where the term, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” prevails every time a driver straps himself behind the wheel of his high speed chariot.
It wasn’t until August 1994, however, when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series first visited the track for the inaugural Brickyard 400.
A capacity crowd—the largest ever to witness a NASCAR event—welcomed history in the making as California native Jeff Gordon became the first Brickyard 400 winner.
Gordon who was born in Vallejo, California, moved to Pittsboro, Indiana, with his parents where the opportunities for young, up-and-coming open wheel drivers are more prevalent.
Open-wheel greats Rick Mears, A. J. Foyt, and Al Unser, Sr., hold the record for most Indianapolis 500 wins with four, while Gordon is the only four-time winner of the annual NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile track.
“There is so much history, and I used to dream of racing here. I looked up to guys like Mears, Foyt and Unser while growing up in nearby Pittsboro,” said Gordon who can become the winningest driver on the 2.5 mile oval.
Gordon also added that, “I’m never one to compare what we’ve been able to accomplish to what those guys have done. I don’t think you compare stock car statistics to open- wheel statistics here. Those guys are all legends.”
With 600 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts now in the history books, Gordon will be looking to find the magic to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his last win coming back in 2004.
Team DuPont might just have something up its sleeve to get that that record-breaking fifth victory at the famed speedway.
“I believe this DuPont team has a great package for this event. We’ve been working really, really hard on every aspect to find speed. We've got some things up our sleeve for Indy,” said a very confident Gordon.
If not already, Gordon may be close to earning legendary status at the Indiana track.
In addition to most NASCAR wins at the track, Gordon has earned three more top-fives (nine), and three more top-10’s (13), than his closest competitor. Additionally, he has the most poles (three), and laps led (440; 223 more than second on the list) in 16 NASCAR starts.
“You must have the car really balanced out well, and it’s tough to do because you have four unique corners,” said Gordon, whose 10 top-fives in 2010 are two more than any other driver.
“Even though they look the same and appear to be the same shape, they’re all different. You’re trying to figure out the best combination for the long straightaway’s and the corners,” said Gordon.
Gordon added that, “You want the car to get down the straightaways good, but you also want to have down force in the car for the grip needed to get through the corners.”
While Sunday’s race is only one of 26 to determine the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, it is hardly just "another" race.
“Everybody goes all out for this event,” said Gordon, who is seeking to kiss the bricks for a record-setting fifth time.