Former Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is looking to finally break his winless streak, which has accumulated to 48 races as the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The “speedway” is like a home away from home for Gordon, who is the only NASCAR driver to have claimed four wins at the historic 2.5-mile racetrack. The first of those four victories came in the inaugural Sprint Cup Series event at the track in 1994.
While Gordon’s hometown is Vallejo, Calif., he spent many years living and growing up in Indiana and says his win in the inaugural race is among his highest accomplishments.
“Living in Indiana, racing around Indiana, Indianapolis Raceway Park, the fairgrounds, Bloomington, all over the place, it was every short-track, open-wheel, (NASCAR) Sprint Cup driver’s dream to race at Indianapolis one day,” Gordon said. “To be able to do that in the very first ever NASCAR stock-car race there in 1994, win it, then go on to win it three more times is some-thing that I probably put up as the highest accomplishments of my career.”
Gordon currently sits second in points, trailing points leader Kevin Harvick by 103 points as the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the final race to qualify for the top-12 sits seven weeks away.
In 16 Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis, Gordon has nine top-five and 13 top-ten finishes, holding an average finish of 8.6.
According to NASCAR’s loop data reports, Gordon is the best closer in the last five races at IMS, which means he has gained more positions in the last ten-percent of the race than drivers with more than five starts. Gordon is also fifth in the field in the driving rating category, with a 96.2 average rating over the last five races at the track.
Gordon is looking to keep his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson from capturing his third straight victory at IMS, and from earning his fourth career victory at the track, which would move the two into a tie for most Cup Series wins at Indy, with four each.
“Everybody goes all out for this event,” Gordon said. “I believe this DuPont team has a great package for this event. We’ve been working really, really hard on every aspect to find speed. “We’ve got some things up our sleeve for Indy.”
Despite going winless thus far in 2010, Gordon has scored more top-five finishes than any other driver, currently with ten. Gordon finished ninth in his event last year.
— Juan Pablo Montoya and wife Connie welcomed the birth of their third child this weekend. Their second girl, Manuela Montoya Freydell, was born on July 19 and joins their other two children, Sebastian, age five and sister Paulina, age three. Montoya’s spokesperson said mother and baby are doing well.
— Chip Ganassi could become the first team owner to perform a triple crown by winning the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 all in the same year. Ganassi owns two cars entered in the field this weekend. The No. 1 car driven by Jamie McMurray (who won the Daytona 500) and the No. 42 car, driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.
— Jacques Villeneuve will attempt to qualify for the Brickyard 400 with Braun Racing’s No. 32 Toyota. Villeneuve is a winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 in the IndyCar Series.
— Bobby Labonte is making his 600th consecutive Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at Indianapolis. Labonte also announced this week that he will be returning to TRG Motorsports for four Cup Series races — Pocono, Michigan, Atlanta and Texas. All four races will be sponsored by TaxSlayer.com. Labonte will drive the No. 09 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet this weekend.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr: “When somebody asks me what it would feel like to win here, I think about the open-wheel history of this track, and I think about drivers like (Mario) Andretti and (A.J.) Foyt and the guys even before them. I think about the history of this track and how it’s survived the war and closed down and opened back up and everything that it’s been through. When they first brought stock cars here to practice, it was a realization for a lot of people, including myself, being an aspiring driver at the time, that I may have a chance one day to race at Indianapolis that I otherwise didn’t think that I would have unless I was to go in the open-wheel series.”
— Denny Hamlin: “There is so much history here and I think every driver wants to win here and be a part of that history. I had the chance to visit the museum here a few years ago and to see all of the race-winning cars and the people who made racing here what it is today was really cool. This track has seen it all. Indy is a lot like Daytona because winning means so much at those places that it almost lives outside of the schedule and points, and thinking about the Chase. I know I how I felt winning at Richmond, and I know from talking to Tony (Stewart) and Mike (Ford) what Indy means to them. This is definitely one I want to win for this team.”
— Joey Logano: “Indy is a tough place to pass, that I remember well. We started dead last in 2009 because we changed engines in The Home Depot Toyota and it was not easy to move through the field. I finished 12th, but did all my passing on the restarts and luckily had a good enough car to do that. I don’t know what the spoiler is going to do to the cars this year, but I am sure qualifying is going to be really important again. We need to get some momentum going, and I think we have some solid tracks for the team coming up starting with Indy. I know we finished 12th last year, but I felt like our car was better than that.”
The Race: Brickyard 400
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile rectangle)
The Date: Sunday, July 25
The Time: 1 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 160 laps/400 miles
TV: ESPN, Noon (ET)
Radio: IMS & Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128.
2009 Polesitter: Mark Martin
2009 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Schedule Prior To Race Day: Friday—Practice, 2-3 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday — Qualifying, 10:10 a.m.; Practice, 2-3 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.