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1994 Brickyard 400

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1994 Brickyard 400

The Inaugural Brickyard 400 was held on Saturday August 6, 1994 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race marked the nineteenth race of the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. It was first race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway besides the Indianapolis 500 since the Harvest Classic in 1916. The race featured the largest crowd in NASCAR history, and a then NASCAR record purse of $3.2 million.

Second-year driver, 23-year old Jeff Gordon from nearby Pittsboro was cheered on by the hometown crowd to a popular win.[1][2][3] It was his second career NASCAR Winston Cup win, and thrust the young Gordon into a superstar on the racing circuit.[4]

The race was a culmination of over two years of preparation, and decades of speculation. While the event was looked on with enormous anticipation and significant media attention, the traditional nature of the Indy 500 and the Speedway was a concern to ownership and some fans. Despite some mild complaints, the event was considered a huge success and a financial cash cow—it ultimately bankrolled the formation of the IRL.[5] The race featured two former Indy 500 winners (A.J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan). Foyt came out of retirement to participate, which would be his final start in a professional-level racing event.

Background

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909, and the first Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911. It became a tradition that the Indy 500 was the only race held at the track annually. With the exception of a Labor Day race meet in 1916, no other race took place at the track through 1993. As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series began to grow in stature and popularity, speculation began in the 1980s and 1990s about the possibility of racing at the Indy track.

During the reigns of Speedway presidents Tony Hulman (1946-1977), John Cooper (1980-1981), and Joe Cloutier (1978-1979 & 1983-1989), the idea of hosting a second race at the Speedway was not actively pursued by the board of directors. When Cloutier died in December 1989, Tony George was named the president of the Speedway, and he began taking the Speedway in a new direction.

In September 1991, A. J. Foyt filmed a commercial for Craftsman Tools at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While filming in the garage area, Foyt, and Speedway president Tony George decided to take Foyt's NASCAR Winston Cup car for a few laps around the track. Foyt was the first driver to do so, and later on, George himself took a few laps. The event was not planned, and had no implications, but caused some interest and speculation for the future. In December 1991, Tony George took the idea of perusing a second event at the Speedway to the board of directors. The board approved the measure, and the Speedway started taking steps towards hosting a second race, preferably a Winston Cup event.

In March 1992, IROC/NASCAR drivers Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle were invited to test at the Speedway. Trickle reportedly ran a lap that was hand–timed at 162.799 mph (262.000 km/h). At the time, the Speedway was considering hosting an IROC event during May as part of the on-track activities leading up the Indianapolis 500. The second weekend of Indy 500 qualifying was becoming less-popular with fans, and an additional event was an idea to boost attendance. The test was considered successful, but several improvements would have to be made to the track before it was safe for the IROC cars to race there. After much consideration, it was determined that it would not be economically feasible to hold the IROC race. Plans for that event were put on hold. Instead, nine top NASCAR teams were invited to test (see below).

Following the NASCAR test, Indianapolis Motor Speedway started an extensive improvement project. The outside retaining wall and catch fence were replaced. The new wall and fence were decidedly stronger, and could support the 3,500 pound NASCAR stock cars. The pit area was widened, and the individual pit stalls were replaced in concrete. This was done to better support the pneumatic jacks used by the Indy cars, and to handle the refuel spillage of gasoline from the NASCAR machines. The largest project, however, involved the removal of the track apron, and the construction of the new warm-up lane, similar to that built at Nazareth Speedway in 1987.

On April 14, 1993 Speedway President Tony George, and the president of NASCAR, Bill France, Jr. jointly announced the Inaugural Brickyard 400 would be held Saturday August 6, 1994. A new race logo was also unveiled. Immediately, anticipation for the event grew, as many drivers contemplated one-off entries, and comparisons were already being made to NASCAR's biggest event, the Daytona 500. ABC signed on to broadcast the race live, and ESPN would cover practice and qualifying.

1994 Season

Jimmy Spencer won the DieHard 500 at Talladega, immediately proceeding the 1994 Brickyard 400. Going into the race, the top five in championship points were as follows:[6]

Championship standings following the 1994 DieHard 500
  1. Ernie Irvan, 2739 points
  2. Dale Earnhardt, -16
  3. Mark Martin, -258
  4. Rusty Wallace, -289
  5. Ken Schrader, -357


NASCAR's "tire war" was notable during the 1994 season. Both Goodyear and Hoosier tires were used by entrants. Many of the front-runners utilized Goodyear. Among the top teams using Hoosier tires was Geoff Bodine.

In order to attract more entries, the initial Brickyard 400 was concurrently included in the NASCAR Winston West schedule. One provisional starting position would be available to the top driver in Winston West points that did not qualify on speed. The points leader in Winston West standings entering the race was Mike Chase.

Going into the race, conjecture amongst fans and media contemplated the possibility of an expanded field, a special qualifying format, a three-abreast starting grid, a celebrity pace car driver, or other changes for the race. However, NASCAR officials planned on treating the Brickyard 400 as any other points-paying race, with standard rules and regulations.

Tire tests

1992 test

On June 22–23, 1992, nine top NASCAR Winston Cup series teams were invited to Indy to participate in a Goodyear tire test. Over the weekend, the teams had raced in the Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Although no official announcements were made, it was in fact an unofficial feasibility test to see if stock cars would be competitive at the circuit. An estimated 10,000 spectators watched a rather exciting two days of history in the making. A. J. Foyt took a few laps around the track in Dale Earnhardt's car on the second day. ESPN covered the test.

Top speeds
Pos No. Driver Car Make Entrant Speed
1 11 Bill Elliott Ford Junior Johnson 168.767
2 4 Ernie Irvan Chevrolet Morgan-McClure Motorsports 167.817
3 2 Rusty Wallace Pontiac Penske Racing 166.704
4 42 Kyle Petty Pontiac SABCO Racing 166.199
5 5 Ricky Rudd Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 165.001
6 17 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet Darrell Waltrip Motorsports 164.567
7 3 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 163.194
8 6 Mark Martin Ford Roush Racing 162.346
9 3 A.J. Foyt Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 161.452
10 28 Davey Allison Ford Robert Yates Racing 161.261

1993 open test

On August 16–17, 1993 thirty-five NASCAR teams took part in an official open test at Indy. It was held as the teams returned from the second race at Michigan, the Champion Spark Plug 400. The top 35 teams in NASCAR points received invitations. Hosting the test in August mimicked the weather conditions expected for the race in 1994. Several thousand spectators attended, and many announcements were made. Recently retired NASCAR legend Richard Petty took a few fast laps by himself, and then donated his car to the Speedway museum. During a session of "drafting practice" a full complement of over 30 cars took to the track, to simulate race condition. John Andretti spun in turn 1, and several cars crashed. No injuries were reported. ESPN covered the test, airing highlights of both days.

Top 10 speeds
Pos No. Driver Car Make Entrant Speed
1 11 Bill Elliott Ford Junior Johnson 167.467
2 6 Mark Martin Ford Roush Racing 165.905
3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 165.868
4 68 Greg Sacks Ford TriStar Motorsports 165.856
5 22 Bobby Labonte Ford Bill Davis Racing 165.624
6 7 Geoff Bodine Ford Geoff Bodine Racing 165.256
7 25 Ken Schrader Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 164.754
8 90 Bobby Hillin Ford Donlavey Racing 164.495
9 2 Rusty Wallace Pontiac Penske Racing 164.429
10 98 Derrike Cope Ford Cale Yarborough Motorsports 164.270

During the summer of 1994, leading up to the race, private testing sessions conducted by the manufacturers (Ford and GM) were held.

Pole qualifying

Pole qualifying for the Inaugural Brickyard 400 was held on Thursday August 4, 1994. A NASCAR record 85 cars entered, for 43 starting positions. H. B. Bailey drew the #1 qualifying attempt. Per the NASCAR rules in 1994, a one-lap qualifying attempt was utilized. The top 20 cars in pole qualifying were locked into the starting field. The remainder of the cars could stand on their time, or make a new attempt in second-round qualifying.

The entire qualifying line of 70 attempts was completed without a single incident. The only driver who experienced trouble was Ken Schrader, who blew an engine during his attempt. Dale Earnhardt took the provisional pole with a lap of 171.726 mph, but his tenure was short-lived. The very next car out to qualify was Rick Mast. Mast set a new stock car lap record of 172.414 mph to secure the pole position. Jeff Gordon was one of the last cars to make an attempt, and qualified third.

Indycar and IMSA regular Geoff Brabham, attempting his first NASCAR race, surprised many by qualifying 18th. Indy 500 winners A. J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan, however, did not make the top 20.

Pole qualifying results

Second round qualifying

Second-round qualifying was held Friday August 5, 1994. The drivers outside the top 20 from the previous round were allowed to stand on their time from Thursday, or erase it and make a new attempt. Due to the expected length of the session, and the sensitive nature of how the track is known to react to changing weather conditions, for fairness, the qualifying draw order from the previous round was inverted for round two. NASCAR adopted this policy for all races from that point on.

Five drivers stood on their times from Thursday, and all five hung on to qualify for the race. Terry Labonte was the fastest qualifier of the day. A. J. Foyt managed to qualify in 40th, the last car to make the field on speed. Lake Speed and Harry Gant made the field on provisionals. No Winston West competitors made the field on speed, but Winston West points leader Mike Chase was given a provisional.

Very few of the one-off entries by Indycar regulars made the field. Popular Indycar owner Dick Simon, who was noted for never failing to qualify one of his rookie drivers at the Indy 500, fell short, as driver Jim Sauter ranked only 47th.

Race summary

Pre-race

Popular Indy 500 fixture Jim Nabors was invited to sing the national anthem, accompanied by the Indiana State University Marching Sycamores. Mary F. Hulman gave the traditional starting command. Elmo Langley drove the Chevrolet Monte Carlo pace car, and Doyle Ford served as flagman.

The flyover was performed by the 181st Fighter Group, featuring four F-16 fighter jets.

Start

At the start, polesitter Rick Mast led Dale Earnhardt into turn one. In turn four, Earnhardt brushed the wall, which allowed Mast to lead the first lap. Earnhardt quickly began to slip in the standings. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon passed Mast to take over the lead. On lap 3, Danny Sullivan lost a side window, bringing out the caution for debris. Earnhardt pitted to check the damage, and fell to the rear of the field.

The green came back out on lap 6. On lap 10, Jimmy Spencer lost control and crashed hard in turn 3. He would become the first driver to drop out.

First half

The first half settled into a comfortable pace, with Jeff Gordon leading for several segments. The top five was battled among drivers including Gordon, Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, and Brett Bodine. Dale Earnhardt attempted to charge through the field, and managed to lead laps during a sequence of green flag pit stops.

A. J. Foyt ran out of fuel around lap 40. He attempted to stay out and lead a lap during green flag pit stops, but had to coast around a full lap, and lost several laps in the process. He made it back to the pits, and re-joined the race.

Second half

On lap 95, Mike Chase and Dave Marcis crashed in turn 2, bringing out the caution. Under the yellow, Brett Bodine took on only two tires, which allowed him to re-enter the track with the lead.[7] The field lined up for the restart with brothers Brett and Geoff Bodine first and second, respectively. Brett got the jump and led down the backstretch on lap 100. In turn three, Geoff nudged Brett's rear bumper, which caused Brett to become loose, and Geoff took the lead.[7] In turn 4, however, Brett bumped Geoff in the rear bumper, and spun him out in front of the entire field.[7] Geoff hit the outside wall, and collected Dale Jarrett. After the crash, Geoff suggested Brett spun him out on purpose, attributing the move to "family problems" between the brothers.[7] Brett later admitted he spun Geoff out on purpose, and the brothers feuded for nearly two years afterward.[7]

With Geoff Bodine out, the race came down to a battle between Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan, with Brett Bodine holding on to a strong top five position.

On lap 130, Geoff Brabham got high in turn 1 and hit the outside wall. Jimmy Hensley swerved to avoid him, but Brabham spun and smacked into the side of Hensley's car. Brabham was out of the race, but Hensley limped back to the pits with damaged fenders and flat tires. During the caution the leaders made their final scheduled pit stops. Rusty Wallace's pit crew led by Buddy Parrott, executed a 15.9 second pit stop, and he came out of the pits with the lead. Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan came out second and third. The top five was rounded out by Brett Bodine and Bill Elliott. By that point in the race, Dale Earnhardt had worked all the way up to seventh.

The green flag came back out on with 26 laps to. Rusty Wallace held the lead into turn 1, but Jeff Gordon passed him going down the backstretch. The two ran side-by-side in turn four, down the mainstretch, and into turn 1. Gordon finally got by, Irvin now in second, and Wallace slipped all the way back to 7th.

Finish

With 20 laps to go, Ernie Irvan led Jeff Gordon and Brett Bodine. Gordon was battling a loose condition, and decided to tuck in behind Irvan to improve his handling. As the laps dwindled down, Irvan and Gordon raced nose-to-tail, and began to pull away from the rest of the field. Gordon slipped by to re-take the lead on lap 145. Irvan stayed within reach, and on lap 149, attempted to pass Gordon for the lead on the backstretch. Gordon stayed high in turn three, and the two went side-by-side into the turn. Exiting turn 4, Gordon held off the challenge. On lap 150, exiting turn two, Irvan tried the same move, and this time took the lead.

With ten laps to go, Gordon tucked into second, and allowed Irvan to lead. Gordon's crew was instructing him to wait until the final 2-3 laps to make a pass attempt for the lead.

With five laps to go, Irvan apparently ran over a piece of debris down the mainstretch. He slid high going into turn one, and Jeff Gordon immediately dove underneath to take the lead. Down the backstretch, Irvan's right front tire blew, and he was forced to the pits. Gordon pulled away with Brett Bodine now in second. In the final four laps, Bodine began to close the gap, but Gordon held off the challenge and won the Inaugural Brickyard 400, his second career NASCAR Winston Cup victory.

After dropping to last place early on, Dale Earnhardt charged all the way to a fifth place finish. A dejected Ernie Irvan wound up a lap down in 17th place. Two weeks later, Irvan was involved in a serious crash at Michigan International Speedway where he suffered a near-fatal head injury. Brett Bodine's second place would be the final top five finish of his career.

Box score

Race results

Pos SP No. Driver Car Name Car Make Entrant Laps Status
1 3 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 160 Running
2 7 26 Brett Bodine Quaker State/National Lease Ford King Racing 160 Running
3 6 11 Bill Elliott Budweiser Ford Junior Johnson 160 Running
4 12 2 Rusty Wallace Miller Genuine Draft Ford Penske Racing 160 Running
5 2 3 Dale Earnhardt GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 160 Running
6 27 17 Darrell Waltrip Western Auto Chevrolet Darrell Waltrip Motorsports 160 Running
7 23 25 Ken Schrader Kodiak Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 160 Running
8 15 30 Michael Waltrip Pennzoil Pontiac Bahari Racing 160 Running
9 25 75 Todd Bodine Factory Stores Ford Butch Mock 160 Running
10 11 21 Morgan Shepherd Citgo Ford Wood Brothers Racing 160 Running
11 8 10 Ricky Rudd Tide Ford Rudd Performance Motorsports 160 Running
12 21 5 Terry Labonte Kellogg's Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 160 Running
13 37 16 Ted Musgrave The Family Channel Ford Roush Racing 160 Running
14 9 4 Sterling Marlin Kodak Chevrolet Morgan-McClure Motorsports 160 Running
15 41 15 Lake Speed Ford Quality Care Ford Bud Moore Engineering 160 Running
16 5 22 Bobby Labonte Maxwell House Pontiac Bill Davis Racing 160 Running
17 17 28 Ernie Irvan Texaco/Havoline Ford Robert Yates Racing 159 Running
18 13 77 Greg Sacks USAir Ford U.S Racing 159 Running
19 38 8 Jeff Burton (R) Raybestos Ford Stavola Brothers Racing 159 Running
20 30 41 Joe Nemechek (R) Meineke Chevrolet Larry Hedrick Motorsports 159 Running
21 35 44 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Buss Fuses Ford Charles Hardy 159 Running
22 1 1 Rick Mast Skoal Classic Ford Richard Jackson 159 Running
23 22 43 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. STP Pontiac Petty Enterprises 159 Running
24 32 40 Bobby Hamilton Kendall oil Pontiac SABCO Racing 159 Running
25 36 42 Kyle Petty Mello Yello Pontiac SABCO Racing 159 Running
26 31 98 Jeremy Mayfield Fingerhut Ford Cale Yarborough Motrsports 158 Running
27 39 02 Derrike Cope Advil Ford T.W. Taylor 158 Running
28 28 14 John Andretti (R) Bryant Heating & Cooling Chevrolet Hagan Racing 158 Running
29 19 9 Rich Bickle Orkin Ford Melling Racing 157 Running
30 40 50 A.J. Foyt Copenhagen Ford A. J. Foyt Enterprises 156 Running
31 33 31 Ward Burton (R) Hardee's Chevrolet Alan G. Dillard, Jr. 155 Running
32 24 55 Jimmy Hensley Bondo/Mar-Hyde Ford Ray DeWitt 155 Running
33 26 99 Danny Sullivan Corporate Car of Indianapolis Chevrolet Chris Virtue 152 Running
34 29 51 Jeff Purvis Country Time Chevrolet James Finch 142 Running
35 10 6 Mark Martin Valvoline Ford Roush Racing 140 Running
36 20 23 Hut Stricklin Smokin' Joe's Ford Travis Carter 136 Oil line
37 42 33 Harry Gant Skoal Bandit Chevrolet Leo Jackson 133 Running
38 18 07 Geoff Brabham Kmart Ford Michael Kranefuss 127 Crash
39 4 7 Geoffrey Bodine Exide Ford Geoff Bodine Racing 99 Crash
40 14 18 Dale Jarrett Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Joe Gibbs Racing 99 Crash
41 16 71 Dave Marcis Terramite Chevrolet Dave Marcis 92 Crash
42 43 58 Mike Chase Tyson Foods Chevrolet Bill Strauser 91 Crash
43 34 27 Jimmy Spencer McDonald's Ford Junior Johnson 9 Crash

Race statistics

  • Time of race - 3:01:51
  • Average speed - 131.977 mph
  • Margin of victory - 0.53 seconds
  • Lead changes - 21 amongst 13 drivers
  • Total purse: $3,213,849 (winner's share $613,000)

Selected awards

Sources: [2]

Championship standings following the 1994 Brickyard 400
  1. Dale Earnhardt, 2883
  2. Ernie Irvan, -27
  3. Rusty Wallace, -268
  4. Mark Martin, -344
  5. Ken Schrader, -355


Broadcasting

The 1994 Brickyard 400 was carried live on television by ABC Sports. Paul Page, who was the announcer on ABC's Indianapolis 500 broadcasts, served as host, with ABC's regular NASCAR announcer Bob Jenkins handling the play-by-play duties. His fellow commentator on ESPN NASCAR broadcasts, Benny Parsons, served as color commentator. The pit reporters included Gary Gerould, Jerry Punch (who had worked with Jenkins and Parsons on ESPN), and Jack Arute.[9] ESPN carried practice and qualifying.

The race was carried live on the radio by the IMS Radio Network. Mike Joy was the play-by-play, with Ned Jarrett and Chris Economaki as analysts.[10] The turn reporters[10] were Jerry Baker, Gary Lee, Larry Henry, and Bob Lamey. The pit reporters[10] were Glenn Jarrett, Dave Despain, John Kernan, and Chris McClure. Howdy Bell served as statistician. USAC historian Donald Davidson and author Greg Fielden were guests in the pre-race coverage, offering historical commentary.[10]

The Speedway public address announcing team from the Indy 500 was retained for the Brickyard 400. The chief announcer Tom Carnegie was joined by Jim Philiippe, John Totten, and David Calabro.

References

Preceded by
1994 DieHard 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Season
1994
Succeeded by
1994 The Bud At The Glen
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