By Ken Plotkin - Motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN, Aug 4, 2000 - Two Bodine brothers bumped their way into the Brickyard 400 field today. Brett Bodine did it in grand style, setting a new Brickyard qualifying record of 181.072 mph. "It was...
By Ken Plotkin - Motorsport.com
Indianapolis, IN, Aug 4, 2000 - Two Bodine brothers bumped their way into the Brickyard 400 field today. Brett Bodine did it in grand style, setting a new Brickyard qualifying record of 181.072 mph. "It was just an unbelievable lap for us. I made a mistake yesterday. Right before qualifying I got the car in the fence off the fourth turn and the guys just scrambled to get this thing together just to make a lap yesterday. And then they just worked their tails off this morning, trying different combinations, throwing at it to see which Mike thought was the best." Brother Geoffrey had a hand in things, telling Brett how new tires would help. "Geoff came over before qualifying and he just gave me a word of encouragement. He said those new tires are gonna make a difference, man, he said just go ahead and do it."
Because he is a second day qualifier, Brett will start in 26th position, behind the top 25 from yesterday. This is the first time that the fastest qualifier for the Brickyard 400 has not started from the pole.
Brett will be followed by older brother Geoffrey, whose speed of 179.037 is 25th fastest overall, placing him 27th on the gird. "We certainly wished we had this run yesterday, but we never got the opportunity to take the green. I don't really know what happened in Turn 4 yesterday. I'm glad it all worked out for us. The track is probably better today than it was yesterday, except Turn 3 was a little slick, maybe from Little's engine. The team never gave up after what happened yesterday. They worked late last night and got up early this morning. They never gave up."
Youngest Bodine brother Todd was 25th fastest yesterday, at 178.770 mph, locking in 25th position. The starting field for the Brickyard will thus have a bunch of Bodine Brothers in mid-pack, occupying positions 25, 26 and 27.
Nine other drivers, including Robby Gordon, veterans Ken Schrader and Dave Marcis, and rookie of the year contender Matt Kenseth, failed to run fast enough to make the field on time. Schrader and Kenseth will be in the field as provisionals. Schrader is seeking to extend his record streak of 960 consecutive Brickyard 400 laps, every lap of all six prior 400s.
Steve Grissom replaced Kyle Petty in the #44 Hot Wheels Pontiac for second round qualifying. Grissom was not able to get any more speed out of the car.
Jeremy Mayfield, who had qualified on the outside of the second row, was injured when he hit the turn 3 wall during morning practice. He and teammate Rusty Wallace were drafting together down the back straight when Chad Little's engine blew. Joe Nemechek (ahead of the pair), then Wallace, slid but did not spin. Mayfield spun half a turn and hit the outside wall with the left side of his #12 Mobile 1 Ford. "He was behind me," said Wallace. "We were running and I hit the oil and he must have got just a bit more of the oil than I got and he went right around."
Mayfield was transported to Methodist Hospital, with a possible concussion. He was conscious and alert, with vital signs stable. He was admitted in stable condition with a closed head injury, then released later this afternoon. Dr. Troy Payner, of the neurological staff at Methodist, said that Wallace's injury prevents him from participating in Saturday's Brickyard 400.
Penske-Kranefuss Racing announced that Kyle Petty has been retained to drive in place of Mayfield in tomorrow's race. Rusty Wallace shook down the 12T backup car that Petty will drive. "The circumstances aren't very good, obviously," said Petty, "but me and these guys are going to do everything we can to give this car a good ride tomorrow. They tell me the backup car is a good one. They won with it at Pocono in June. We'll see what we can do with it in Indianapolis in August."
Tomorrow's Brickyard 400 will be the first race with two new safety rules precipitated by the two fatal accidents at Loudon that may have been caused by stuck throttles. The first new rule is that the primary and secondary carburetor throttle shafts much east have an independent travel stop to imped the throttle plates from opening beyond vertical. The second is that an auxiliary ignition on/off button ("kill switch") must be mounted on the steering wheel within reach of the driver's thumb.
Terry Labonte will sit out this race and next week's event at Watkins Glen. He suffered a concussion in Daytona, but had been cleared to drive and ran at Loudon and Pocono. After taking one lap here yesterday, however, he felt dizzy. His doctors in Charlotte found nothing wrong. Terry ran laps today, and felt better, but not 100%. "The smart thing to do is to stay out today and next week," he said. "It's disappointing, but this is just a sport, just a game." He will remain in Indianapolis to watch the race, and will return to the driver's seat in Michigan in two weeks.
Labonte has started every Winston cup race since 1979, his first full season. His record streak of consecutive starts, which earned him the nickname of "Iron Man," now ends at 655. Next on the all time list is Dale Earnhardt, whose streak will hit 633 with tomorrow's race. After another 23 starts "Ironhead" will inherit the mantle of "Iron Man."
This is the closest starting field in Brickyard 400 history, with 0.746 second separating the fastest qualifier, Brett Bodine, from the slowest qualfier, Hut Stricklin. The previous closest field came in 1997, when 0.899 second separated the field. The average speed of the 36 qualified cars is 179.610 mph, just .002 mph slower than the former record pole speed of 179.612 mph set by Jeff Gordon in 1999.
NASCAR and Sears, Roebuck and Co. today announced a five year renewal with Craftsman to continue and expand title sponsorship of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "Craftsman's initial presence in the series provided instant credibility for a new kind of NASCAR competition," said Mike Helton, senior vice president and CEO for NASCAR. "The growth of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, in less than a decade, is a success story that is a great complement to our other two national series."
Craftsman has renewed as the "Official Tools of NASCAR" through 2005. The company will also continue its support of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series via Craftsman "event nights" at local tracks and a contribution to the National Championship point fund.