Gordon earns record fourth Brickyard 400 with dominant run INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004 --Jeff Gordon earned an unprecedented fourth Brickyard 400 victory Aug. 8 with a dominating performance in a wild, tumultuous race at the Indianapolis...
Gordon earns record fourth Brickyard 400 with dominant run
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004 --Jeff Gordon earned an unprecedented fourth Brickyard 400 victory Aug. 8 with a dominating performance in a wild, tumultuous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gordon, who was born in Vallejo, Calif. but spent his youth in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., became only the fourth driver to win a major event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times. His childhood racing hero, Rick Mears, won the Indianapolis 500 four times along with racing legends A.J. Foyt and Al Unser.
"I'm blown away with four," Gordon said, "I can't believe it, really. You know, the thought went through my mind a couple times during the race today when we were really strong, we were out there running up front. I kept having to shake it off, going, 'Stop thinking about that.'
"Even there toward the end at the caution there at the end, I knew that we had three laps to go, basically, I felt how special it was. It was starting to really get to me. I didn't realize how much this really meant to me, to win four. Then I had to shake that off because I had to get it done first."
Gordon's four victories in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in 11 Brickyard starts marks the shortest span in which a driver has scored four major victories at the legendary 2.5-mile Speedway. Mears won the "500" for the fourth time in his 14th start, Foyt won No. 4 in his 20th start, and Unser won for the fourth time in his 22nd start.
"You know, I don't compare myself to Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt, Al Unser," Gordon said. "To me, the Indy 500 is always something unique and totally different than the Brickyard 400. I'm very proud to be a four-time winner, but I just will never allow those comparisons to really put us among equals with those Indy 500 winners."
Gordon's previous Brickyard 400 victories came in the inaugural event in 1994, 1998 and 2001.
The day was historic for NASCAR because the 2004 Brickyard 400 was the first NEXTEL Cup Series race to finish under the new "green-white-checkered" rule. The rule was implemented for the first time after Ryan Newman brought out the caution with an accident on Lap 155. Following cleanup, the field took the green flag on Lap 159, white flag on Lap 160 and checkered flag on Lap 161.
Gordon finished ahead of Robert Yates Racing drivers Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler, who finished second and third in the No. 88 UPS Ford and No. 38 M&M's Ford, respectively. The race ended under checkered and caution flags due to an incident between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ricky Rudd on the back straightaway on the final lap.
"I was hoping we wouldn't have that caution (on Lap 155) because it seemed that after we ran about two laps, I started going back toward Jeff a little bit," said Jarrett, the Brickyard 400's only other multi-time winner, with victories in 1996 and 1999. "I was really getting off of (Turns) 2 and 4, and it looked like I could gain on him a little. But getting to him and past him would have been something totally different. He had the best car looked like all day."
Gordon and Sadler combined to lead all but five laps of the race, as Gordon led an event-record 124 laps, and Sadler led 32. Jarrett held the previous record of 117 laps, set in his dominating win in 1999.
NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Kasey Kahne finished fourth in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, and Tony Stewart finished fifth in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet.
The race saw 13 cautions for 47 laps, both event records, which slowed the race pace to an average speed of 115.037 mph, the slowest average speed in event history.
The field had completed only four laps when the first caution took place due to a single-car accident between Turns 1 and 2 involving No. 60 Jason Leffler. He was unhurt.
Stewart and NEXTEL Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson next brought out separate cautions due to spins in which they did not hit the wall or other cars. Both continued, although Johnson dropped out on Lap 88 with an engine trouble, ending his day in 36th place.
The biggest incident of the day occurred on the Lap 73 restart following a caution for Sterling Marlin, whose car had a flat tire on the backstraight. As the middle of the pack approached Turn 1, Greg Biffle and Rusty Wallace made contact, sending Wallace into the inside retaining wall separating the track and pit lane, and causing a chain-reaction eight-car melee. Scott Riggs, Ward Burton and Terry Labonte were eliminated from the race while Wallace, Bobby Labonte, Kyle Petty, Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer continued with damage.
Sadler led on the restart on Lap 79, but Gordon sent a strong message that his car was the one to beat by passing Sadler between Turns 1 and 2 on that lap. Gordon would relinquish the lead only once more, for one lap during pit stops.
Defending series champion Matt Kenseth climbed from the 23rd starting position to become a factor, passing Sadler for second on Lap 105. But Kenseth could not catch four-time series champion Gordon, as he maintained an almost two-second advantage over Kenseth lap after lap.
Gordon admitted he was fortunate to avoid trouble on Lap 142, as he ran over a piece of debris that dented the front end. Kenseth was not as lucky, as his No. 17 Smirnoff Ice/DeWalt Ford hit the debris and suffered a punctured tire. Kenseth rejoined the field following a pit stop for new right-side tires and finished 16th.
2005 Brickyard 400 tickets: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway ticket office will accept ticket renewals and new ticket orders beginning Monday, Aug. 9. The 12th running of the Brickyard 400 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7, 2005.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.