Indianapolis: Event preview

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 31, 2002 -- The number four could play a big role in Jeff Gordon's drive for five this year in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. Gordon will continue his quest for a fifth Winston Cup championship during the ninth...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 31, 2002 -- The number four could play a big role in Jeff Gordon's drive for five this year in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing.

Gordon will continue his quest for a fifth Winston Cup championship during the ninth annual Brickyard 400 on Aug. 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 160-lap, 400-mile race starts at 1:30 p.m. (EST) and will be televised live on NBC.

Defending Winston Cup champion Gordon is fourth in the standings in the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet, 188 points behind leader Sterling Marlin. But he is winless this season, his drought reaching back 28 consecutive races to last September, when his last win came at Kansas Speedway.

But there's no better spot than the historic, 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis for Gordon to grab win No. 1 of 2002. No driver has dominated this event since its inception in 1994 like Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind.

Gordon is the only three-time winner of the event, winning the inaugural race in 1994 and again in 1998 and last year. He also won the Brickyard 400 pole an unprecedented three times, in 1995, 1996 and 1999.

In fact, Gordon has led 306 of the 1,280 laps that the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has raced at Indianapolis, a success rate of 24 percent. That's a stunning achievement in a 43-car starting field in one of the most competitive racing series in the world.

A victory this season not only could vault Gordon closer to the top of the Winston Cup standings, but it also would place him among the pantheon of greats who have recorded four victories in an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's a select group of three, as A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears each won the Indianapolis 500 four times.

Foyt earned his four Indianapolis 500 wins in 35 starts, Unser in 27 and Mears in 15. Gordon could match the feat of four wins at Indy in just his ninth Brickyard 400 start.

But there's a long list of challengers who could prevent Gordon from enhancing his legend at the Brickyard with another win, starting with points leader Marlin.

Marlin overcame a history of frustration at Indy by finishing second last year to Gordon. Marlin has two victories this season in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge owned by Indianapolis 500 veteran Chip Ganassi.

Consistency also has helped Marlin stay atop the Winston Cup standings, as he has recorded 11 top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season.

Veteran Mark Martin is second in the standings in the No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford, 106 points behind Marlin. Martin has enjoyed plenty of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- in the True Value IROC series, with three consecutive IROC at Indy victories from 1998-2000.

But Martin is winless in the Brickyard 400, with a best finish of second to Gordon in 1998. Still, Martin has been a constant contender for a Brickyard 400 win, with four top-five finishes.

Rookie Jimmie Johnson is third in the standings in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, 144 points behind Marlin. He will make his first start at Indy.

Martin isn't the only veteran who is enjoying a resurgent season and also looking for an elusive first Brickyard 400 victory.

Rusty Wallace has finished second in this event twice, in 1995 and 2000. He is eighth in the series standings but was fourth before a 40th-place finish in the Pennsylvania 500 on July 28 at Pocono, Pa.

Wallace will look to bounce back in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford owned by 11-time Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Roger Penske. And like Gordon, there are few better places for Wallace to achieve that goal than Indy.

1989 Winston Cup champion Wallace has recorded seven top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, more than any other driver. His average finish in eight prior starts is 9.13.

Another driver to watch for at Indy is two-time Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett in the No. 88 UPS Ford. Jarrett won this race in 1996 and 1999.

Gordon isn't the only driver with Indiana ties aiming for victory at the Brickyard.

Indiana native Tony Stewart aims for his first victory of any kind at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac. Stewart, who also has made five Indianapolis 500 starts, has a best finish of fifth in 2000 in three Brickyard 400 starts.

Indianapolis native John Andretti and South Bend native Ryan Newman also are aiming for a victory at their home track. Tony Raines, from LaPorte, Ind., also will attempt to qualify for the race.

BRICKYARD 400 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The ninth annual Brickyard 400 starts at 1:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday, Aug. 4. Pole Qualifying on H.H. Gregg/Sirius Qualifying Day starts at 10:05 a.m. Aug. 3.

NASCAR Winston Cup practice sessions start at 2 p.m. Aug. 2, and 2 and . 3:45 p.m Aug. 3 .

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On the air: The Brickyard 400 will be televised live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, Aug. 4. A pre-race show starts at 2 p.m. on NBC.

Qualifying will be televised live from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 3, with practice live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. that day.

The IMS Radio Network will broadcast a Brickyard 400 pre-race show at 1:45 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 4, followed by the live race broadcast at 2:30 p.m. The IMS Radio Network will broadcast qualifying live at 11 a.m. (EDT) Aug. 3., with a qualifications wrap-up show at 6 p.m.

A Brickyard 400 preview will be broadcast at 6 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 2 on the IMS Radio Network, with "Indy Live" shows on the network at 9 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 1-2.

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Tickets: Reserved seating for the ninth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, Aug. 4 is sold out, and there is no general-admission seating.

Tickets for H.H. Gregg/Sirius Qualifying Day on Aug. 3, which includes the IROC at Indy race, are $25. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free. Tickets for NASCAR Winston Cup Series and True Value IROC practice Aug. 2 are $10, and admission is free for children ages 5 and younger.

For Brickyard 400 ticket, camping and parking information, contact the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area.

-ims-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt , Mark Martin