This weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway marks the 20th running of the Brickyard 400 on the hallowed ground that was only graced by open-wheel cars until 1994, when NASCAR came to town and stock cars began racing on the famed 2.5 mile speedway as well. Since the inaugural running of the race, the Brickyard 400 has become one of the most prestigious races on the circuit, joining the Daytona 500, Southern 500, and Coca-Cola 600 as the “crown jewels” of the schedule.
Richard Childress has become one of the most successful owners at Indianapolis, winning the Brickyard 400 three separate times and with three different drivers, including Dale Earnhardt in 1995, Kevin Harvick in 2003, and Paul Menard in 2011. Childress is the only owner in the Sprint Cup Series to accomplish that feat.
Childress shared his thoughts on Indianapolis during a teleconference this week in the lead up to the 20th running of the Brickyard 400 this weekend.
“You know, when you said 20 years, it kind of reminds me of that old song Bob Seger sings, 20 Years Ago, Where Does It Go? It doesn’t seem 20 years ago when Dale Earnhardt pulled up there to run our first test. I guess that was a year or so before we went up there and raced, just to see how the Cup cars would do.To be able to see that car go around the racetrack in such a historical place as Indy with all the history there, to have Dale go around there, it was pretty amazing.”, Childress said.
“Then coming back in 2003, we won with Kevin Harvick up there. That was a special win, as well, because we did start from the pole that day. We’ve been right there to win other Brickyards, but unfortunately we didn’t pull them off. One that ranks really high, maybe above the other two, was when Paul Menard won in 2011. What made that so special was knowing that Paul’s family was there. Knowing what John Menard had put into that, I think he had entered like 30 some car over 20 years at Indy, in the Indy 500. To be part of watching his son win that race was such a special day. Riding around the track, that’s the neatest part of Indy, is getting to ride around the track, seeing all the fans hollering. That’s really a cool thing right there.”
Childress elaborated further on why he thinks the 2011 Brickyard 400 win by Menard ranks highly among the three Brickyard 400 wins that RCR has. “Not taking anything away from Dale or Kevin’s first win there, but that one was so special I think because of being able to win a race with Paul, being able to win at Indy where that whole family had put so much into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. John Menard played a huge role for many years. To be able to win that race with him, have his whole family there that day, it was almost like a storybook ending to a great venture in Indy for John Menard.”
Over time, the Brickyard 400 has lost some luster in the eyes of some in the sport, but Childress still believes that Indianapolis is one of the marquee events in the sport. When asked about that he said, “ If you want to win a race, you want to win the Daytona 500, you want to win the Coke 600, and Indy, the Brickyard 400. Those are the three, in my opinion, of the biggest crowns you can win”
Chevrolet has an impressive record at Indianapolis, winning the last 10 and 14 out of the 19 total Sprint Cup Series races at the track. Childress also shared his thoughts on that: “I think the caliber of the teams, the effort that every team puts in to go win at Indy, because we know it’s a big deal for Chevrolet to go up there and win. I think it’s just that extra motivation for all of us. The other guys have it, too. But I think we know how important that win is for Chevy.”
Richard Childress Racing will have the opportunity for a fourth win this weekend with four cars out of the RCR stable entered. In addition to regular drivers Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, and Jeff Burton, Austin Dillon will also be making his Cup Series debut at Indianapolis this weekend.