NSCS: Jeff Gordon Looking Back to Look Ahead; Veteran Takes History to Indianapolis in Search of Fifth Brickyard 400 Title

Marshall Gabell Featured, NASCAR 0 Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Christian Petersen/Getty Images photo – Some tracks are ones that drivers can’t stand to visit, and others are ones they can’t wait to get to. For Jeff Gordon, when visiting the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, only two words describe his 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the venue.

Unparalleled success.

Gordon, 42, first made headlines at Indianapolis during his sophomore season (1994) in what is now the Sprint Cup Series  when he put on a astounding performance in front of the largest crowd in NASCAR’s history, leading 93 of the 160 laps in the Brickyard 400 that day en route to his second career premier series triumph.

Just 23-years-old at that time, Gordon became the inaugural winner at Indianapolis in the Sprint Cup Series, a mark that would engrave his name into the history books and eventually help to craft his entire legacy in the sport.

During a sit down with media members on Monday morning, Gordon recalled the wildness and enjoyment that characterized that memorable afternoon two decades ago.

“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 expressed. “Even if you go back to the test that we had (in 1993), 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.”

There’s more to the tale than just the impact it had on his career. The inaugural event that day also greatly affected Gordon on a personal level.

After growing up in Pittsboro, Indiana, a town just a few hours from Indianapolis, Gordon was open to racing from birth, and was always familiar with the Indianapolis 500 – a race the IndyCar Series has held for almost a century at the legendary speedway.

After moving back to California, where he was born, to further pursue his racing desire Gordon became distant for a time from the Indianapolis track, yet his desire and hunger to succeed there never diminished.

“My love for Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500 goes way back to when I was racing in California, and I was racing open wheel cars on an oval, and so sprint cars at Indianapolis were what I looked up to and what I loved to watch as a kid,” Gordon explained. “The drivers were my heroes. The race was one that I always put on the calendar that I was going to watch.”

“I got a chance to go there (Indianapolis) 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.”

After winning the inaugural Sprint Cup event at Indianapolis in front of his hometown fans, Gordon felt his dream from his younger years had finally been accomplished, and his emotion and comments in victory lane revealed that.

“This is the greatest day of my life,” an ecstatic Gordon said with a mix of tears and sweat dripping down his face that afternoon.

Little did Gordon ever imagine he’d score three more triumphs (in 1998, 2001 and 2004) at The Brickyard and an impressive record of 16 top-10 finishes.

Fast forward to the present, and Gordon is now focused on grabbing his second win of the 2014 season and hitting a milestone 90th career victory  at Indianapolis, especially with retirement (possibly) around the corner.

“With the type of season that we’re having, I’m extremely excited about going to Indianapolis,” Gordon stated. “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. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years (since the inaugural win), but looking forward to celebrating those 20 years hopefully with another win.”

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