What They're Saying About The 11th Brickyard 400 INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 6, 2004 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the 11th annual Brickyard 400 on Aug. 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: GREG BIFFLE (No. 16 National Guard Ford): (Do...
What They're Saying About The 11th Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 6, 2004 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the 11th annual Brickyard 400 on Aug. 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
GREG BIFFLE (No. 16 National Guard Ford): (Do you appreciate the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?): "Absolutely. I've been watching the races here for a long, long time. It has a lot of history unlike some of the other races we go to, so that's kind of neat to be part of that history now. If I had to rank this race, I'd have to put it number two. Daytona is obviously our Super Bowl, and this is probably the next-highest profile and one of the higher-paying races. Teams put a lot of energy in it, so I think this is really second on the list."
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge): "This is a big weekend on the schedule. You look past the Daytona 500, and people starting talking about Indy. It's probably the second-biggest race of the season for us. It's the focus of the summer swing. The money, the prestige and the fame that comes from winning at Indianapolis is nearly unmatched. Everyone wants to win the Daytona 500 in their career, but I think Indy is a close second in many people's eyes. For someone from Owensboro, Ky., to be able to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a really big deal. If you grew up around racing, you always had thoughts of Daytona and Indianapolis. In American oval racing, these are the two tracks that everyone can associate with. You can't have a racing conversation for too long without someone bringing up a story that revolves around the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500. These are the two biggest races in our country. In NASCAR, we focus all of our attention on the Daytona 500. We spend two straight weeks at the beginning of the season preparing for that one race. That doesn't even include all the time in January that you spend testing at the track. In that regard, it's tough to say that the Brickyard 400 is more important or bigger than Daytona. I don't know if it will ever be. The Brickyard 400, however, is a race that solidifies NASCAR as America's most popular sport. Having our series race on this famed oval and sell out the track each season just proves how large of a sport we have become. Indianapolis wasn't built for the purpose of the NEXTEL Cup Series just as Daytona wasn't built for Indy cars. But each time we come to Indy, it's like the atmosphere of a Daytona. Everyone wants to go to the Brickyard 400, and you know you're missing something special if you're not there. It's that big of a deal."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, 2000 Brickyard 400 winner): "I've always enjoyed racing at Indy because of all the history there. I was born in Texas, where A.J. Foyt was from, and he won there four times in the Indy 500. My win there in 2000 is really special and, obviously, one of the biggest wins of my career. We need a win this year, and Indy would be a great place to get it, for sure. We've had a bad couple of races recently and need to put together a good couple of runs so we're in the chase at the end. (What would a second win at the Brickyard mean?): "It'd be a big accomplishment, for sure. Only a couple of guys have won the Brickyard more than once, so to put our name on that list would be a pretty special."
JASON LEFFLER (No. 60 Haas Automation Chevrolet):"Being able to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a great experience. There is just so much history at this track that it can't be ignored. They've been running races here since the early 1900s and to have the opportunity to be a part of a little fraction of the tracks history is cool. I'm really excited about this weekend. It's going to be busy for my Haas Automation Racing team and me, but I think that we are ready for it. I can't say enough about this team. We have matured together, and it's showing in the finishes that we are having and in the point standings. This weekend we hope that we will go run the Brickyard and learn a lot of things that will help us on both the Cup and Busch side. With the way that we have been running lately in the Busch Series, I think that we have a great chance on leaving with the Kroger 200 win. I'm just ready to get out there and give them all that I've got. I'm bringing it!"
MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Viagra Ford): "We need to go and win the Brickyard. Now I don't usually say things like that, but with all the heartbreak that we've had this year and with everything we've gone through, winning the Brickyard is all that matters to me and my race team right now. If we do that, then we can talk about this points thing, but with all we've been through this year winning the Brickyard is the type of thing that could make our season. It's hard to single out one race and go after it, but you know after we had a really big heartbreak at Charlotte, the guys said, 'Hey, lets just go win Dover,' and we did it. So after what happened at Chicago, we just kind of looked to the Brickyard, and we are going to go for it this weekend. Chicago was a huge heartbreak, but we are over it and all geared up to go get them at Indy."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, native of South Bend, Ind.): "The Brickyard 400 is such an important race to me. I have dreamed of racing at IMS since I was a kid. I have such a high level of respect for this track and the history that goes along with it. A win here would definitely be the biggest and best of my career at this point. I grew up racing in the area, and would love to give my family and friends a win at the Brickyard. One of the most important reasons I want a Brickyard win is for my owner, Roger Penske. He has won so many Indianapolis 500s, but never a Brickyard 400. It'd be amazing for me and the ALLTEL team to be able to give him that first win."
RICKY RUDD (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford, 1997 Brickyard 400 winner): (What changes have you seen in this race over the last 10 years?): "Probably the biggest thing that has changed has been the setups on the race cars themselves. They've become a lot more complex over the years. The guys get smarter and smarter on aerodynamics, and it's more about aerodynamics than it is anything right now. You've got to put the springs under the car to keep the aerodynamics of the car working correctly. When we won here in '97, it was headed in that direction but not to the extent it is today. It was more about you put chassis under the car to make good corner grip. Sometimes the two were not always the same." (When NASCAR came to Indy, did it bring the sport to a different level?): "Yeah, I really felt that. We came here years ago -- it had to be the early 90s or late 80s -- and there were five or six teams that were invited here by Goodyear for a tire test. I was fortunate in that I was one of the first guys to hit the racetrack with a stock car. That was a pretty neat event that day, and there was a lot of camaraderie in the garage area. You could tell that everybody knew that they were participating in an event that was going to go down in the history event. Even though it was several years later before we came back here and raced, we knew it was probably a pretty important test. Everybody was really loose that day and enjoyed themselves, and we all hoped we would be back here to race and, sure enough, we did."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 38 M&M's Ford): "Racing at Indianapolis is the second most prestigious race next to the Daytona 500. It's really important for Robert Yates that his teams run well at the Brickyard, and both he and Doug (Yates) are going that extra mile in the motor department to make sure we have a good shot at winning this race. Todd has won this race twice with Dale Jarrett, so I know I am in good hands when it comes to experience and knowledge of winning at the Brickyard. I have seen what the two Brickyard trophies mean to DJ and his family. They (the trophies) have their special place in his trophy room and symbolize two special moments in his career. I can only hope for the same. If you win at Indy, you know you have beaten the best. We had a great test there a few weeks ago. We took two cars built especially for Indy and Pocono, and they both ran really well. I was happy with how fast our Pocono car was last week, and I think the guys are just going to clean up the sheet metal and load the car back on the truck. I'm looking forward to it."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge): "The Brickyard seems to get bigger and bigger every year, and rightfully so. There is something about this place. I'm sure part of it is the history and thinking back to all the names who have not just won here but raced here. Being from the Midwest, everybody pointed to Indy as the track they wanted to visit. Growing up, you could only dream about having the opportunity to race at Indy one day. In 1990, NASCAR didn't even race here, and now it's such a huge draw for the track and the sport. This has definitely become a 'major' in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The Sunday walk onto the starting grid at Indy is kind of like what golfers describe Sunday's walk out to the first tee at Augusta to be, or going on the field for the first game of the World Series. With all of those fans right there on top of you, from both sides, it's a pretty cool deal. As a racer, you want to win or be the fastest every time you strap yourself into a race car. But, Indy has become one of the handful of tracks on the Cup circuit that every driver dreams about winning. They'll likely be more cars at Indy trying to make Sunday's race than at any track we've been to or will go to the rest of the year. It's a huge race for the competitors and owners."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, native of Columbus, Ind.): "Take the one thing in your life that you're the most passionate about, and you'll have a good understanding of what Indy means to me. There's at least something in everybody's life that they're very passionate about, and for me that's winning at the Brickyard. The fact that it comes around only once a year is the hard part. It's not like everyday you can work to accomplish that goal. I only have one chance out of every 365 days to win at Indy." (Do you put too much pressure on yourself because of your passion for Indy?): "You can let it monopolize your mind, but at the same time, that has also helped me get to this level of my career. Preparing and focusing on the objectives is what's gotten me to where I am today. As every year goes by, you learn how to deal with situations better and you learn to prepare better, but that can also put you in a situation where you can over-prepare. What we've tried to do this year is just simplify things and go back to the basics of why we got here, and that's to have fun." (About stock cars racing at Indianapolis): "I was one of the 'old guard' who wasn't too excited when they said that stock cars would be at Indy, just because of the history of the place. But we've all adapted our attitudes toward it, because in addition to the Indianapolis 500 -- which is what Indy has been all about for so many years -- they have the NEXTEL Cup Series, the premier racing series in the United States, and Formula One, probably the most recognized form of motorsports in the world. The Speedway has brought all of the major racing series together at one great venue. A lot of times people are scared of change, but as the years have gone on people have not only accepted the changes that have gone on at the Speedway but appreciated them, as well."