Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, a.k.a. the Brickyard 400. With Jeff Gordon stepping away from full-time competition at the Sprint Cup Series at season’s end, Sunday’s Brickyard race will be, more than likely, Gordon’s final race at the track.
Gordon’s NASCAR winningest driver at Indianapolis with five Brickyard wins, including victories in the first in 1994 and the most recent last year
Gordon was in the midst of his second full-time season of (then-Winston) Cup competition when NASCAR made its first competitive visit to the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, amid quite a few detractors, among those future three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, as a matter-of-fact.
Gordon was a seasoned 23-year-old when he won that inaugural Brickyard 400, the first race at IMS other than the famed Indidanapolis 500 since the Harvest Classic in 1916. It was Gordon’s second-career Cup win.
Despite critics of NASCAR at Indy at first, that first race in 1994 was a huge success. It’s been said that the profits IMS made from the race funded the formation of the IRL (Indy Racing League) in which former race critic Stewart just happened to win a championship in 1997.
Apparently, anybody who was anybody in the motorsports wanted to participate in NASCAR’s historic debut at the Brickyard. A.J. Foyt even came out of retirement for the event that would end up being his final NASCAR Cup level race. Some 70 cars made qualifying attempts on the first day of qualifying. For those new to NASCAR, qualifying consisted of two rounds over two days back then.
Rick Mast took the pole on day one with a stock car lap record speed of 172.414 mph.
Gordon led several laps throughout the first half of the race before a Bodine family feud took center stage in the race’s second half. After multiple incidents of contact between brothers Geoff and Brett, Geoff hit the wall and accused Brett of wrecking him on purpose because of a family issue. Brett later admitted to wrecking his brother on purpose and the feud continued for a couple of years.
With the Bodine smoke cleared, at least on-track at Indy, Gordon and Ernie Irvan battled up front. Irvan led late in the race before running over debris on the frontstretch. Gordon then took the lead. Brett Bodine survived his family feud to finish second.
Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace. Dale Earnhardt, after falling to the back early in the race rounded out the top-five. By the way, Earnhardt went on to win the second Brickyard 400 the next year, proclaiming himself as the first “man” to win the Brickyard 400.
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