NASCAR Sprint Cup at Indy: Top 10 Moments from Previous NASCAR Races at Indy
With the Sprint Cup Series taking its final off-week of the season, it allows fans a Sunday off to get household chores done or some much-needed yard work. You can take the kids to the water park and not have to incessantly check on your Sprint phone for the latest standings.
If that just bores you, it's never too early to look forward to next Sunday's Brickyard 400, presented by BigMachineRecords.com, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Great seats still available!)
Even though the fans haven't shown up in droves recently, the mid-summer race at the 2.5-mile oval is still one of NASCAR's "Crown Jewels." Over the past 15-plus races at the track, we've seen legends solidified and legacies confirmed.
Here are the top 10 moments from previous Sprint Cup races at Indy, presented in chronological order.
August 6, 1994: Inaugural Race
Everything about the inaugural Brickyard 400 stood out on the 1994 Winston Cup Series calendar—the track, the overall buzz about another race at Indy and even the 12:15 p.m. Saturday start. (At the time, the July race at Daytona was a Saturday morning race until lights came to the track in 1998.)
NASCAR wanted this event to draw a huge amount of entries, placing the event on the Winston West (now K&N Pro West) calendar and offering points to teams that made the field.
Jeff Gordon—a Pittsboro, Ind. native—won the race, the shining moment of a season that saw the "Rainbow Warriors" win at the Coke 600 in Charlotte about three months earlier.
1994: Bodine vs. Bodine
However, the 1994 event is more known today for the bizarre incident when Brett Bodine wrecked older brother Geoff in the early stages of the race.
The attached video explains the situation much better than I ever could, a scene straight out of Jerry Springer.
August 5, 1995: Earnhardt Wins
You'll probably never see this stat on the post-race box score ever again: one caution, four laps.
That's the only point at which the second edition of the Brickyard 400 was slowed following a rain delay which pushed the start back four hours and 10 minutes. In fact, this could be the last Sprint Cup race to not air live; after ABC passed on showing the race live, ESPN picked up rights for a next-day airing.
The "Intimidator" won the second-quickest NASCAR event in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, holding off Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace late to do so.
August 3, 1996: Jarrett Kisses Bricks, Earnhardt Is Relieved
The 1996 edition of the 400-miler saw something that fans would never see again—Dale Earnhardt stepping out of his iconic No. 3 Chevrolet during a race due to injury.
After suffering lingering injuries in a violent "Big One" at Talladega one week prior that nearly saw his car disintegrate, Earnhardt pulled onto pit road on Lap 7 to allow Mike Skinner—Richard Childress Racing's Craftsman Truck Series driver at the time—to hop in and complete the rest of the race.
Dale Jarrett and the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing crew won both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season, becoming the first team to do so. At the end of the race, Jarrett and his crew kissed the iconic stripe of bricks at the start-finish line, a tradition that continues to this day.
August 1, 1998: "No Bull" for Jeff Gordon
The 1998 season saw Winston and NASCAR create the "No Bull 5," an effective replacement for the Winston Million in which the top five finishers in select races would carry over into another race later in the season. If one of the top five finishers won that race, he'd win $1 million.
Jeff Gordon was in that position heading into the 1998 Brickyard 400, and he'd be the first repeat winner in the history of the race in order to get that bonus.
Much like everything else Gordon did in 1998, he succeeded after holding off Mark Martin in the race's late stages.
August 2, 2002: Kurt Busch vs. Jimmy Spencer
Indianapolis Motor Speedway also served as one of the main platforms in the Jimmy Spencer-Kurt Busch rivalry that encompassed the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
On Lap 36 of the 160-lap event, Spencer punted Busch hard into the Turn 3 wall. As the video indicates, Busch wasn't too happy about it.
2002: "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" Turns Back the Clock
Bill Elliott and Evernham Motorsports were a match made in heaven as the flagship Dodge operation starting in the 2001 season, as Elliott went from a driver at the twilight of his career to a winning wheelman.
Prior to the 2002 running of the Brickyard, Elliott won the Pennsylvania 500 in dominating fashion. One week later, Elliott would prove to have the strongest car in the field, winning what is Dodge's only trophy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to date.
August 7, 2005: Tony Stewart Becomes Hometown Hero
After holding off Kasey Kahne in a late battle between two dirt-track veterans, Tony Stewart earned the biggest victory of his career to date in the 2005 edition of what was then known as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
An adoring home crowd took in a victory lap from "Smoke," who then paid tribute to Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves by climbing the fence.
July 29, 2007: Stewart Reels in Harvick, Wins Second Brickyard 400
"Here, kitty kitty."
Arguably the most memorable radio transmission in NASCAR history, Stewart told then-crew chief Greg Zipadelli the above phrase when reeling in Kevin Harvick with 10 laps to go in the 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Stewart won his second race at the Brickyard in three years.
"Smoke" was fined 25 points and $25,000 for using an expletive in a post-race interview with ESPN.
July 25, 2010: McMurray Wins, Ganassi Sweeps Indy
After a poor pit road decision by crew chief Brian Pattie eventually led to Juan Pablo Montoya—who dominated most of the race for the second straight season—being mired back in traffic and caught up in a wreck, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray took advantage and won last season's Brickyard 400.
McMurray swept the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400, while co-owner Chip Ganassi became the first to win the Daytona 500, Indy 500 (Dario Franchitti) and the Brickyard 400 in the same season.
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