It was 1993 when NASCAR had a lot of hype about a test session. It seemed odd, but only because where they were testing was a place more known for open-wheel racing than boxy-style stock cars.
But, when NASCAR tested at Indianapolis, and then made their official debut in 1994, it has become one of the premier races to attend, and one of the ones that every driver wants to win. This year marked the 20-year anniversary of NASCAR going to the Brickyard, and in those two decades there have been spectacular moments, along with some memories that should be forgotten.
In 1994, the debut year, saw Jeff Gordon take victory, an Indiana native that lived not far from the track. One year later, NASCAR’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt, added his name to the trophy case.
It was 1996 when a tradition happened practically on accident. Dale Jarrett, after his win and at the direction of crew chief Todd Parrott, knelt at the start/finish line and kissed the actual bricks that remained as part of the track. That has become a final tradition not just for NASCAR, but also for any driver that wins there.
And then there was 2008, where a new car caused the worst race in Indy history. Every 10 laps, a caution. The reason…the tires brought in weren’t rubbering in, but were rather turning to dust and blowing up. Each team had Goodyear Eagles worn down to the cords so fast, that it was a series of sprints rather than an actual race. Fans were irate, and justified in their response. NASCAR responded by doing hundreds of laps of testing to get the right tire for the next trip back, but sadly the stigma that it caused sadly hasn’t gone away.
There’s been historic wins, as both Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have four wins here, and then there’s Indiana’s own Tony Stewart whose won twice here, both times climbing the fence afterward. Even unexpected wins like 2010 by Jamie McMurray and 2011 by Paul Menard are remembered.
This year, another driver added his name to the trophy case, yet another Indiana-native, Ryan Newman.
It was a dream of his to win at this track, and after running so hard and using great strategy on the part of his crew, his dream became a reality. He, his wife and kids, and the entire No. 39 team got to kneel down and plant their lips on the very bricks that are still part of the track. It’s likely the nastiest-tasting kiss Newman has ever experienced, but one that in the end is well worth the effort.
Two decades of NASCAR at Indianapolis are done. Those that missed out on a win here now must wait again, and try to win the 2014 edition. It will be a long year for 42 drivers, but one great one for Newman.
RESULTS: 1-Newman 2-Johnson 3-Kahne 4-Stewart 5-Kenseth 6-Earnhardt Jr. 7-Gordon 8-Logano 9-Montoya 10-Kyle Busch
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Edwards 18-Hamlin 19-Harvick 21-Keselowski 30-Patrick
CAUTIONS: 3 for 14 laps. Lap 60-64 (#32 slow on track), 82-86 (#31 slow on track), 115-118 (#32 slow on track).
LEAD CHANGES: 20 among 12 drivers. Newman 1-29, Logano 30, Johnson 31-54, Edwards 55, Montoya 56, Gordon 57-61, Johnson 62-82, Keselowski 83-86, Logano 87-96, Johnson 97-107, Newman 108-110, McMurray 111-115, Johnson 116-132, Newman 133, Gordon 134-139, Hamlin 140-143, Harvick 144-145, Menard 146, Bowyer 147, Keselowski 148, Newman 149-160.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 36 Mins, 22 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 153.485 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.657 Seconds
POINTS (Top-10, Wild Cards): 1. Johnson, 740 points; 2. Bowyer, -75; 3. Edwards, -85; 4. Harvick, -92; 5. Earnhardt Jr, -124; 6. Kenseth, -125; 7. Kyle Busch, -130; 8. Biffle, -175; 9. Kahne, -176; 10. Gordon, -181. WC1-Stewart (11th, 1 win), WC2-Truex Jr. (12th, 1 win).