Brickyard 400 Begins Hard Part of the Season

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 2, 1999 - It's only fitting that one of the toughest stretches of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts with one of the stock car circuit's premier events, the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 7 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 2, 1999 - It's only fitting that one of the toughest stretches of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts with one of the stock car circuit's premier events, the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 7 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This race, along with the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, is one of the three richest motorsports events in North America. It's also the largest-attended NASCAR Winston Cup race of the season. And the Brickyard 400 starts a vital stretch of the year in which Winston Cup drivers will race for 12 consecutive weekends, zeroing in on the coveted Winston Cup championship. After having two of the last three weekends off, drivers and teams' next weekend off is Halloween. Points leader Dale Jarrett will look to expand his 254-point lead in the Quality Care Service-Ford Credit Ford. And in a bad-news flash for his rivals, Jarrett excels on the relatively flat corners and long straightaways of the famed 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis. Jarrett won this event in 1996 and dominated last year until running out of gas just past the halfway point of the 160-lap race. But 55 other entrants for this race will try to gain ground on Jarrett. One of those drivers is reigning Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, 492 points behind in sixth place. And there's not a better place for him to start than the Brickyard 400. Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., is the defending champion of this event, becoming the only driver to win this race twice. He also has won the pole twice at Indy in the DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet and has led 253 laps at this event during his career, more than twice as many as any other driver. Mark Martin, second in the points, won the inaugural IROC at Indy event last year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and hopes to translate some of that success to the Brickyard 400 in his Valvoline Ford. Bobby Labonte won the most recent Winston Cup event, at Pocono Raceway on July 25, in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac. Most Winston Cup drivers and crew members say that the setups used at Pocono and Indianapolis are almost identical, so that should make Labonte, third in points, a contender at the Brickyard. Gordon and Tony Stewart lead the Indiana contingent back to their street of dreams at Indianapolis. Stewart, who grew up in Rushville, is fifth in the points as a rookie in The Home Depot Pontiac. He is trying to become the first rookie to finish in the top 10 of the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings since Jody Ridley in 1980. A victory at Indianapolis - which would be his first NASCAR Winston Cup win - would go a long way toward securing that honor. John Andretti and Kenny Irwin, who both grew up in Indianapolis, also are making a Hoosier homecoming at this event. Past Brickyard 400 winners Dale Earnhardt (1995) and Ricky Rudd (1997) are entered and will look to join Gordon as the only two-time winners of this prestigious event.

Source: IRL/IMS

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Mark Martin