Gordon 'extremely excited' for Sunday's race, Brickyard anniversary
By Gray Caldwell
CONCORD, N.C.— Time flies, even for NASCAR drivers.
"It's hard to believe it's been 20 years," Jeff Gordon said on a recent conference call.
The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS was looking back at the inaugural Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Aug. 6, 1994, a 23-year-old Gordon fulfilled a childhood dream when he crossed the finish line first in his adopted home state.
This year's running of the race will mark the 20th anniversary of that victory.
"Looking forward to celebrating those 20 years hopefully with another win," he said.
The first Brickyard 400 was a monumental moment in NASCAR's history, as from 1919 to 1993, the only race run in the famed speedway was the Indianapolis 500.
Bringing stock-car racing to the venue introduced NASCAR to a whole new set of fans.
"Most of the things that stand out to me was really about just the madness and craziness of how big that event was, how popular it was among fans, not just traditional NASCAR fans but new fans to the sport," Gordon recalled. "Even if you go back to the test that we had, the fans were just lined up on the fence around the garage area just wanting to see stock cars race at Indianapolis. It was much of the same when it came to race day—just so many fans and you just couldn't walk anywhere without getting mobbed. That just showed you the impact and significance of that inaugural event."
It was significant to Gordon as well, having honed his racing skills in the state of Indiana. The Indianapolis 500 was always a banner event to the aspiring professional driver.
"The race was one that I always put on the calendar that I was going to watch," he said. "I got a chance to go there as a kid when we traveled from California to Indiana to go visit the museum, go out to the racetrack as well as watch the race one particular time, and I was just in awe of the place.
"I always wanted to race there, and to get that opportunity, especially an opportunity to win, it just is a way to live out a childhood dream."
Gordon has won at Indianapolis four times, and 80 percent of the time he has raced there, he has finished in the top 10.
This year's race will take place on Sunday, July 27, and the driver for the No. 24 team is confident he can keep up his hot streak at the track.
"Every time it's something special when you go to Indianapolis. It's just such a cool place, so much history, and obviously a lot of great memories for me," he said.
"With the type of season that we're having, I'm extremely excited about going to Indianapolis. I think that the way that our cars are performing, the way our engines are performing, Indianapolis is a track that we certainly can win at."
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