Record Winston Leader Bonus last captured at Brickyard in 2000 DW to race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at IRP NEWS & NOTES * TV Timeout ... Last Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.6 rating on TNT and was the top ...
Record Winston Leader Bonus last captured at Brickyard in 2000
DW to race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at IRP
NEWS & NOTES
* TV Timeout ... Last Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.6 rating on TNT and was the top program for the month among adults in the 25-54 age groups. The race was also the highest-rated sports event on cable. (Figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research).
* Charting the NASCAR Top 10: Junior moves back into second ... Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) third-place finish at Pocono -- his best since taking third at California in April -- moved him past Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) into second place in this week's NASCAR Top 10. Gordon's accident on Lap 124 and subsequent 36th-place finish at Pocono dropped him to third. Despite his 13th-place finish at Pocono, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) remains at No. 1, a spot he has held for 17 consecutive weeks (since Atlanta). Kenseth has been in the NASCAR Top 10 for 19 of this season's 20 weeks of racing, and leads Earnhardt by 232 points. ... Fourth-place Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and sixth-place Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet) are the only drivers who have been in the NASCAR Top 10 all season. ... Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) moved into the NASCAR Top 10 for only the second time this year thanks to his series-leading fourth win of the season at Pocono. Newman jumped from 13th to ninth this week. Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), ninth last week, fell out of the NASCAR Top 10 this week following a 37th-place finish at Pocono.
* Record Winston Leader Bonus grows to $210,000 ... Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) claimed the previous record-high NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus at the Brickyard 400 in 2000 when he was awarded $190,000 by winning the race while also leading the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Current NASCAR Top 10 leader Matt Kenseth -- with a 232-point lead over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- has the only opportunity to take home the record bonus -- which now stands at $210,000 -- following the Brickyard 400. The $10,000 bonus is available following every NASCAR Winston Cup race. If the point leader does not win the race, the bonus rolls over to the next week. The last driver to claim the bonus was Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) following his win at Darlington in March 2002, 51 races ago.
* Open-wheel converts return to Indy ... Five of the 50 drivers entered at the Brickyard 400 have direct ties to the open-wheel racing world. Among them, Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) was the first to convert to stock car racing. Gordon -- a two-time CART winner who was an owner/driver in 1999 -- is also a nine-time Indy 500 starter. Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won IRL Rookie of the Year honors in 1996 and won the title in 1997. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates Larry Foyt (No. 14 Harrah's Dodge) and Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge) both have strong open-wheel roots. Foyt -- whose father, A.J. Foyt, was a four-time Indy 500 winner -- competed in USAC Formula 2000 events in 1997-98 before turning to stock cars. Mears -- nephew of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears -- competed in Indy Lights and had five starts in CART (2000-01) before joining the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002. The latest defection from the open-wheel ranks was Christian Fittipaldi (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge), a two-time winner in eight seasons in CART. Fittipaldi -- whose uncle Emerson won championships in both Formula One and CART -- also competed in F-1 from 1992-94.
* DW, Harry Gant selected to NMPA Hall of Fame ... Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip and Harry Gant, one of only seven drivers to win four consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup races, have been selected as the two newest members of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame. Both will be inducted during ceremonies at Darlington, S.C. on Aug. 30. Waltrip won 84 races during his NASCAR Winston Cup career, while Gant, who finished second in the NASCAR Busch Series on three occasions, won 18 NASCAR Winston Cup races and won four straight in 1991 at the age of 51. In addition, the late Bob Latford, NASCAR historian and author of the current NASCAR points system, was named the second-quarter winner of the NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award. Latford passed away July 23.
* Earnhardt Jr.'s crew wins Pocono Pit Crew competition ... The weekly McDonald's/POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Championship was won by Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew at the Pocono 500. Earnhardt spent 240.375 seconds in the pits -- the least amount of pit time among teams competing in the program. Michael Waltrip's crew still leads the competition over Earnhardt's second-place crew, while Robby Gordon's crew overtook Bobby Labonte's to move into third place by 12 points. In addition, the Mechanix Wear Pit Crew Championship second quarter voting took place last weekend with Raybestos Rookie candidate Tony Raines (No. 74 BACE Motorsports Chevrolet) team collecting the most votes. Matt Kenseth's crew won the first quarter voting in the Mechanix Wear Pit Crew Championship. Both teams are now eligible to win the $75,000 year-end award.
* Craven honored by hometown ... Ricky Craven (No. 32 Tide Pontiac) will be honored Wednesday night in his hometown of Newburgh, Maine, with a sign proclaiming the town as the home of the NASCAR Winston Cup driver. The sign will be unveiled at a ceremony at Newburgh Elementary School beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday will also be proclaimed "Ricky Craven Day" by Maine Governor John Baldacci.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with three wins and three poles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon, whose adopted hometown is Pittsboro, Ind., also leads the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with 306 laps led at the Brickyard. Gordon is tied with Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) for the most top five-finishes (five) and has posted seven top-10 finishes in nine starts. ... Along with a record tying five top fives -- with Gordon -- at Indy, Wallace leads the series with eight top-10 finishes, in nine starts. Wallace has three runner-up finishes (1995, `00 and `02), but has yet to win at the famed 2.5-mile speedway. In fact, Wallace has led the most laps (148) of any non-winner at Indy. ... Bill Elliott leads the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with the best average finish (8.0) of any driver -- with two or more starts -- at Indianapolis. Elliott's win in the 2002 Brickyard 400 also distinguishes him as Indy's oldest winner at age 46. Elliott has posted four top fives and seven top 10-finishes in nine starts.
* Sunday's Brickyard 400 will be the culmination of a NASCAR tripleheader weekend in Indianapolis. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will contest the Power Stroke Diesel 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park on Friday night at 9 p.m. EST, while the NASCAR Busch Series will run the Kroger 200 Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. also at IRP. Both series are in the midst of exciting point races -- Brendan Gaughan and Travis Kvapil share the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series lead while Scott Riggs is only two points ahead of David Green in the NASCAR Busch Series. .... Mike Skinner will drive the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac at Indianapolis, and is scheduled to be in the seat through Darlington. Skinner began the season in the No. 4 Kodak Pontiac. Skinner replaces Mike Wallace, who stepped in for Jerry Nadeau following Richmond. "The team seems to have lost a little momentum since Sonoma and hopefully Mike (Skinner) will get us back on the right track. His record speaks for itself," said MB2 CEO/General Manager Jay Frye. ... Darrell Waltrip is entered in the truck race at IRP, his second of the season. Waltrip finished seventh earlier this year at Martinsville. Since 1995, "DW" has competed in 12 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, winning one pole and collecting one top-five and five top-10 finishes. His sixth-place finish last year at IRP was his first NASCAR race since retiring from NASCAR Winston Cup competition in 1999. ... Brett Bodine is entered at the Brickyard and will drive the No. 11 U.S. Micro/Brick Car Ford. Bodine offered fans a unique opportunity to add to the Brickyard 400 sponsorship -- for $500, a brick decal with the fans' name will be integrated into the paint scheme on the bottom half of the car. ... John Andretti (No. 81 Kraft 100th Anniversary Chevrolet) will drive for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in the Brickyard 400. An Indianapolis native, Andretti -- who attended high school only a few blocks from the track -- needed more tickets for family and friends. So upon his return from Pocono on Sunday, Andretti was at the IMS Ticket Office first thing Monday morning and bought six tickets in the Turn 3 stands in addition to some he had purchased earlier ... Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) will share the TNT announcing duties for Saturday night's telecast from IRP of the NASCAR Busch Series race along with Allen Bestwick and Benny Parsons.
* "This time I don't know what it'll be. They'll probably have an '8' hat (Earnhardt Jr.'s car number) on, I guess, because there probably isn't John Andretti stuff right now. '8' is OK, since it's my boss. My boss is younger than me (26 to 40), so I guess that's pretty typical in America now." -- John Andretti, who will drive for DEI at the Brickyard 400, on spotting his family and friends in the stands during the pace laps by the similar team caps they wear.
* "Indy is a race track I simply love racing. I have been racing there for 10 years. It is probably one of the most popular speedways in America. I'd say Daytona and Indy are probably neck-and-neck. If you don't win the Daytona 500, you want to try to position yourself to win the Brickyard 400. It's no secret that I would give my right arm to win the Indy 500 but if I can't win that one, I would love to win the Brickyard. Indy is Indy and it is so steeped in tradition that it would be an honor to win either race there." -- Robby Gordon.
* "Ned Jarrett kept telling me 'You need to quit driving that truck so you'll be eligible for the Hall of Fame.' But that truck's a lot of fun." -- Darrell Waltrip on his selection to the NMPA Hall of Fame.
* "I've obviously never raced here before, but I have to admit that it was a little overwhelming when I saw the track for the first time during testing. I've raced over at IRP several times in the NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and have always wondered what it would be like to race in the Brickyard 400. Now I get my chance on Sunday. There's so much history here at this track, and especially all the history that (car owner) Chip Ganassi has at this place. I'd love to give Chip his first stock car win at Indy." -- Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline Dodge).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
At the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, the Bodine brothers -- Geoffrey, Brett and Todd -- became the first three brothers in the modern era to lead a lap in the same race. Both Todd Bodine (No. 54 National Guard Ford) and Brett Bodine are entered on Sunday.
What: Brickyard 400 (NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Race 21 of 36).
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
When: 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Aug. 3.
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET.
Radio: IMS/XM Satellite.
Race length: 400 miles/160 laps.
Track layout: 2.5-mile paved oval.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice, 2--4 p.m. Saturday-- Qualifying, 10:05 a.m. Practice, 2--2:45 p.m. and 3:45--4:30 p.m.