Motorsports Insider: Brickyard win remains jewel worth chasing

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Series updates Sprint Cup Kenseth goes for No. 1: Matt Kenseth, in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing, has already won four races. He is looking to get his first win at Indy, though, after finishing runner-up in 2003 and 2006. “Everybody wants to win that one,” Kenseth said. “If you could have two wins you want the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.” Homecoming for Stewart: Tony Stewart returns to his Indiana roots this weekend, and is searching for his first win at the Brickyard since 2007. Stewart needs to turn the tide, too, after finishing 20th or worse in three of the last four races to drop from 10th to 13th in the points standings. Nationwide How about a NASCAR win? Back when he raced IndyCar, Sam Hornish Jr. won the Indianapolis 500 in 2006. He hasn’t found Victory Lane in stock car racing at Indy, and is searching to become the first driver to win an Indy 500 and a NASCAR national series race at the superspeedway. Hornish stands atop the points standings in Nationwide through 18 races with 14 top-10 runs. Camping World Trucks Getting dirty: The truck series went back to NASCAR’s dirt track roots on Wednesday with the 1-800CarCash Midsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio, the truck series’ first race on dirt. It was to have five eight-lap qualifying races and a last-chance event to set a 30-truck field with the top 20 owners guaranteed a position. The 150-lap, 75-mile race was scheduled to be broken into segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps. He said it “Indianapolis is probably one of the trickiest places we go to on the schedule — Pocono being one, Darlington being one, Indy being another. It’s so hard to find a particular line that really, really works for you or really works for your car because the groove is so narrow. You really have to be particular in hitting your marks and getting your car set up.” — Kyle Busch on Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Richard Childress wasted little time when asked if the Brickyard 400 had lost its luster. Of course it hasn’t, the longtime successful owner said.

“If you want to win a race, you want to win the Daytona 500, you want to win the Coke 600 [in Charlotte] and the Brickyard 400,” Childress said. “Those are the three, in my opinion, of the biggest crowns you can win.”

Well, it’s time for the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown, as Childress put it. There might be races with more history, but the Brickyard 400 remains prestigious with its “Yard of Bricks” at the start/finish line. They are the only visible bricks remaining at the historic track, which was once paved with 3.2 million bricks.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the race, and it remains as relevant as ever. Just ask the drivers and crews.

As Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus said: “It’s such an amazing racetrack, so much history.”

Childress has seen three of his cars win the Brickyard. The most memorable might have been his first back in 1995, the second year of the race, when Dale Earnhardt took the checkered flag.

Eight years later in 2003, Kevin Harvick won it and Paul Menard was the winner two years ago.

Every win at the Brickyard is special, but the Earnhardt win stands out to Childress.

“The win with Dale that day, I remember just like it was yesterday,” Childress said. “We were getting ready to leave and to go to Ruth’s Chris to have dinner because we thought the race was going to be rained out. But the skies opened up. We beat Rusty [Wallace] out of the pits. Track position was everything and Dale held him off for the last 20 or so laps.”

Childress is looking for win No. 4 on Sunday at what’s now called the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com. Or what’s more commonly known as the Brickyard 400.

It should be a memorable day however the race unfolds for Childress, because his grandson, Austin Dillon, will be making his Brickyard debut.

“It’s going to be really special to see him in a Cup car up there,” he said. “I’m really, really proud to be there with him and to be able to watch him run that race.”

Dillon will be one of several drivers looking to impress on a day that is sure to feature intense racing.

Johnson, for one, is looking to defend his title and become the race’s first five-time winner. He and Jeff Gordon have four wins at the Brickyard.

Johnson already has four wins this season and sits atop the points standings seven weeks before the Chase begins.

“We’ve had seasons that are very similar to this, but I’ll be quite honest with you, I don’t feel our team is at ten-tenths yet,” Knaus said. “We have got a long ways to go.”

Returning to a racetrack that the No. 48 team dominated last year could help.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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