Jeff Gordon will start 19th for his final Brickyard 400, a race he is won five times.
Jeff Gordon knows the start, at least, to his final Brickyard 400 Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not going to be fun.
But after qualifying 19th on Saturday and failing to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying, Gordon offered no excuses.
“That one was on me,’’ he said. “It wasn’t the car. It wasn’t like the balance was off or anything. I just needed to be in the throttle harder. I just really underestimated the amount of grip that was out there.’’
While in most of Gordon’s visits to the Brickyard during his successful NASCAR career he has started in a far better position, he has come from deeper in the field to earn one of his five wins at the track.
He's come from farther back before
He started 27th and won in 2001- the worst any driver has started and won the race. Until this week, Gordon had not started outside the Top 10 since the 2009 season, when he started 22nd.
“The trickiest part just began,’’ Gordon said. “You needed to qualify up front. Starting there is not going to be fun.’
“Just because we’re qualifying further back than we wanted doesn’t mean we can’t get it done.”
It’s been a nostalgic week for Gordon at Indy. On Thursday in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., Gordon was honored with a parade. At age 14 Gordon’s family moved to the small town from California so he could legally race.
He was presented the Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed by the governor.
With Gordon’s preseason announcement that this would be his final fulltime season in the Cup series, this weekend’s visit to the Brickyard was going to be a special one.
NASCAR added some additional drama to the weekend when it made this race one of five it planned to use track-specific aerodynamic packages to help produce better racing on the track.
Gordon comments on IMS aero package
So far during two days of practice, many drivers have complained passing could be more difficult on Sunday.
Gordon said there is no way to tell the full effect of the package until 43 cars are racing on the track at the same time.
“It’s going to be a heck of a show. Keep your eyes on these restarts. You’ll see more three-wide racing than we’ve ever seen here, at least down the straightaways before you get into the corners,” he said.
“I don’t know for sure (but) for the little bit of time I spent behind other cars, it was a handful through the corners. So, restarts are going to be wild and crazy; so everybody needs to stay tuned-in.”