Race Rewind: Looking back at the Brickyard 400

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJuly 28, 2013 

Observations

• Something is missing from the Brickyard beyond just its luster. NASCAR made its 20th visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday and the crowd was likely its smallest yet and a far cry from the 300,000-plus which used to attend. The quality of the racing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races this weekend left a lot to be desired. Both were for all practical reasons runaways, with a pit stop miscue preventing lap leader Jimmie Johnson from closing the deal on Sunday. The biggest question: Is there anything NASCAR or Goodyear can really do to spice up the racing product on a track never built with stock cars in mind?

• As the number of races grows smaller before the 12-driver field for the Chase for the Cup is set, the number of race winners this season is increasing. That’s good news for race fans as they will likely see another down-to-the-wire battle among drivers trying to make the Chase and this year most – if not all – could be race winners.

• Ryan Newman becomes the eighth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 during their career. The others: the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.

Notebook

Stewart wraps up a big week: Tony Stewart was not only the winning car owner on Sunday but also the fourth-place finisher, which continues to bode well for his chances at a fourth Cup championship.

He also had a successful night on Wednesday as a track owner, when Eldora Speedway got high praise for its first Truck series race.

“I don’t know how you could ask for a better week on our side. The first half of the week was great,” Stewart said. “Yesterday, Ryan going out, last car out, getting the pole, then being in the race today, watching the battle him and Jimmie (Johnson) had all day, just was impressive to watch.”

Good enough for 10th: Jeff Gordon may have hoped for a better finish Sunday – he was seventh – but it was good enough to push Gordon into the Top 10 in the series standings for just the second time this season. The other was following the season’s second race at Phoenix.

“You had to fight extremely hard today,” Gordon said. “It was just pit strategy and speed in the car and traffic it was not easy I can tell you that.”

With six races left before the Chase field is set, Gordon holds one-point advantage over Stewart in 11th-place.

Randy Earnhardt dies: Randy Earnhardt, the brother of seven-time NASCAR Cup series champion Dale Earnhardt Sr., died Sunday, July 28, 2013 after a battle with cancer. He was 60.

Dale Earnhardt was the oldest of five siblings, which included Randy, their brother Danny and sisters Kaye and Cathy.

"It was really tough. He helped me through a lot of challenges when I was trying to become a race car driver. He was there when I started driving late models. I went through the whole process of racing with Tony (Eury, Sr.) and all of them, Randy was always there,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., Randy’s nephew.

Summer Shootout ends with a bang: Charlotte Motor Speedway will wrap-up its 20th annual Summer Shootout Series on Monday and Tuesday nights.

The doubleheader will be highlighted by a fireworks display on Tuesday and a ’Grudge Match Bus Race’ on Monday night featuring NASCAR drivers Max Papis and Miguel Paludo and several Legends car drivers.

On Tuesday night, champions will be crowned in six divisions, each featuring a tight points battle, as drivers look to lock up a Summer Shootout championship.

5 key moments

1 . Ryan Newman won the pole on Saturday, which gave his team first choice of pit stalls – something that would prove very important in a track position race.

2 . Joey Logano passes Brad Keselowski on a restart following a caution – the only pass of the 20 in the race that did not come as a result of pit stops (either under green flag conditions or caution).

3. Jimmie Johnson leads the last of his race-high 73 laps on Lap 132 when he heads to pit road for a green-flag pit stop.

4. On Johnson’s final stop on Lap 133, he takes four new tires while Newman changes just two one lap later. However, Johnson’s pit stop was an uncharacteristically long 17 seconds, which allowed Newman to gain a big advantage on the track.

5. After Keselowski makes his final pit stop, Newman moves into the lead on Lap 149 and is never seriously threatened for the lead.

Next Race

GoBowling.com 400

Where: Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile triangular, paved track in Long Pond, Pa.

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: ESPN

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Jeff Gordon



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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