Gordon to Make 350th Start at Indy
- Aug 01, 2003
- 24 Team
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 1, 2003) – Jeff Gordon will be driving “four” history in this Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With a win in his 350th NASCAR Winston Cup Series start, Gordon would become only the fourth driver to notch four victories in the track’s 93-year history. Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt each won the Indianapolis 500 four times.
Gordon, the only three-time Brickyard 400 winner, grew up in the shadows of the Brickyard in nearby Pittsboro, dreaming of racing on the 2.5-mile track. As with many kids who grew up in the area, he knows all about the tradition of the famed venue. He also knows what the number “four” represents in speedway lore.
“A.J. was the only four-time winner when I first understood the magnitude of winning here,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. “Every May, we all wondered if anyone would ever match that feat. It was great seeing Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears tie the mark, especially Rick since I was a huge fan of his and was lucky enough to get his autograph.
“It seemed like we drove by the speedway every other day when I was growing up. It’s just a great racing facility with so much history and tradition. Just to win here once is very special.
“I’m excited that we have a chance to win a fourth Brickyard 400 and tie those guys, but I really don’t think you can put us in the same category if we win. It’s difficult to compare the two series and I think you need to keep their impressive accomplishment separate.”
Along with three victories, Gordon has three poles, five top-fives and seven top-10s in nine Brickyard 400s. He has also led 306 of the 1,440 laps (21 percent) run in the annual event, 120 more than any other driver.
“Track position is crucial here and there’s no better place to be than out front,” said Gordon, who started 27th en route to his 2001 victory. “In 2001, the car was awful when we were deep in traffic. My crew chief, Robbie Loomis, made some great calls in the pits to give us track position and the difference was like night and day. The car was great in clean air.”
In his 11th year on the circuit, Gordon has already captured four Winston Cup championships, 62 victories and 43 poles. He has accumulated 167 top-fives (48 percent), 220 top-10s (63 percent) and has led 14,913 laps—only 87 shy of 15,000—in 349 races.
“I’m not the type of person to get caught up in all the stats and records,” Gordon said. “I’m sure one day I’ll sit on a porch and look back at what we’ve accomplished as a team, but right now we need to concentrate on leading laps and finishing in the top five.
“We’ve lost a lot of points the past few weekends and, with our past success here, we can get back on track. This DuPont team doesn’t give up and we’re not out of the championship hunt just yet. We’ve dug ourselves a hole, so now we need to begin climbing out.
“We can’t erase that deficit in one race, but a strong run can start the process.”