1994 Brickyard 400
The 1994 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 the first NASCAR stock car race at the famous Speedway, and the first race of any kind held at the track 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.
|Race 19 of 31 in the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series|
Basic layout of Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Date||August 6, 1994|
|Location||Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana|
Permanent racing facility|
2.5 mi (4.023 km)
|Distance||160 laps, 400 mi (643.74 km)|
|Weather||Mild with temperatures approaching 73 °F (23 °C); wind speeds up to 7 miles per hour (11 km/h)|
|Average speed||131.977 miles per hour (212.396 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports|
|No. 24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons|
Second-year driver, 23-year-old Jeff Gordon from nearby Pittsboro, was cheered on by the hometown crowd to a popular win. It was his second career NASCAR Winston Cup win, and thrust the young Gordon into superstardom on the racing circuit.
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 Indianapolis 500 and the Speedway was a concern to ownership, some from the Indy car community, 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 Indy Racing League. 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 Winston Cup start.
- See Brickyard 400 § Race origins for further information.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909, and the first Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911. It became a tradition that the Indianapolis 500 was the only race held at the track annually. With the exception of a Labor Day race meet in 1916, no other races were held at the track through 1993. As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series began to grow in stature and popularity, speculation began to grow in the 1980s and early 1990s about the possibility of holding a race at Indy.
On September 24, 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 Series stock 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 was an unusual sight, and stirred up some mild interest and speculation for the future.
In December 1991, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors voted to pursue a second race at the Speedway, preferably a NASCAR Winston Cup event. In March 1992, IROC was invited to test cars at the Speedway. On June 22–23, 1992, nine top NASCAR Winston Cup series teams were invited to test at Indy. Although no official announcements were made, it was in fact an unofficial compatibility test to see if stock cars would be competitive at the circuit. An estimated 10,000 spectators watched two days of history in the making.
On April 14, 1993, Speedway President Tony George and 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.
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.
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 20,000-25,000 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.
|1||11||Bill Elliott||Ford||Junior Johnson||165.001||168.767|
|2||4||Ernie Irvan||Chevrolet||Morgan-McClure Motorsports||161.772||167.817|
|3||2||Rusty Wallace||Pontiac||Penske Racing||160.686||166.704|
|4||42||Kyle Petty||Pontiac||SABCO Racing||162.657||166.199|
|5||5||Ricky Rudd||Chevrolet||Hendrick Motorsports||162.375||165.001|
|6||17||Darrell Waltrip||Chevrolet||Darrell Waltrip Motorsports||161.772||164.567|
|7||3||Dale Earnhardt||Chevrolet||Richard Childress Racing||162.212||163.194|
|8||6||Mark Martin||Ford||Roush Racing||161.676||162.346|
|9||3||A. J. Foyt||Chevrolet||Richard Childress Racing||—||161.452|
|10||28||Davey Allison||Ford||Robert Yates Racing||161.215||161.261|
1993 open testEdit
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.
Bobby Labonte (165.624 miles per hour (266.546 km/h)) set the fastest lap on Monday, while Bill Elliott (167.467 miles per hour (269.512 km/h)) turned the fastest lap overall on Tuesday morning. On Monday, Kenny Wallace spun out and hit the inside wall. He was taken to Methodist Hospital for minor injuries. At noon on Tuesday, recently retired NASCAR legend Richard Petty took four fast laps by himself, and then donated his car to the Speedway museum. Later on Tuesday, 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, but the incident drew the ire of some of the veterans who thought some drivers were pushing too hard. ESPN covered the test, airing highlights of both days on SpeedWeek.
Some of the participants compared the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Ontario Motor Speedway, which was built to closely mimic Indy's layout. Only a handful of drivers in the field had actually driven at Ontario before it closed (1980), and none of them felt they held any sort of measurable experience advantage.
|Top ten speeds (combined sessions)|
|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, private testing sessions conducted by the manufacturers were held. Ford teams tested in late June, with Sterling Marlin leading the first week with a lap at 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). During the second week, Ernie Irvan turned the fastest unofficial lap at the Speedway at over 171 miles per hour (275 km/h). Rusty Wallace was close behind at 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). A. J. Foyt came out of retirement, shaking down and testing the #50 Ford.
In early July, Davy Jones turned a lap at 168.659 miles per hour (271.430 km/h), but would later wreck his primary car. Chevrolet and Pontiac teams took to the track in mid-July. Danny Sullivan blew an engine.
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.
Practice was held Thursday morning. Three incidents occurred, a crash by Robert Pressley, a crash by Tim Steele, and Dale Jarrett brushed the wall. Pressley and Steele would switch to back-up cars, while Jarrett's car was not seriously damaged. The practice session was followed by a heavy thunderstorm that pelted the Speedway. The rain stopped and the track dried, allowing qualifying to start nearly on time at 3 p.m.
The entire qualifying line of 70 attempts was completed without a single incident. Only two drivers experienced trouble, one was Ken Schrader, who blew an engine during his attempt. Dale Earnhardt took the provisional pole with a lap of 171.726 miles per hour (276.366 km/h), 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 miles per hour (277.473 km/h) to secure the pole position. Jeff Gordon was one of the last cars to make an attempt, and qualified third.
Indy car and IMSA regular Geoff Brabham, attempting his first NASCAR race, surprised many by qualifying 18th. Former Indy 500 winners A. J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan, however, did not make the top twenty. Wally Dallenbach, Jr., driving for Petty Enterprises, who picked 84th out of the 85 cars in line, pulled in when he felt something was wrong with the engine and ended the day with no speed.
Pole qualifying resultsEdit
Second round qualifyingEdit
Second-round qualifying was held Friday, August 5, 1994. The drivers who had failed to qualify by being inside 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 subsequently adopted this policy for all races from that day forth until two-round qualifying was abolished at the end of the 2000 season.
Five drivers stood on their times from Thursday, and all five hung on to qualify for the race. Terry Labonte, who had placed 26th Thursday, was among those who elected to re-qualify, and he wound up the fastest qualifier of the day. The decision was wise as Labonte's Thursday speed would not have help up Friday. A. J. Foyt managed to qualify in 40th, the last car to make the field on speed. After a miserable run on Thursday, Kyle Petty found much-needed speed and placed 36th. Lake Speed (168.429 mph) and Harry Gant (168.003 mph) both failed to crack the top 40, but made the field as the provisional starters – the two highest placed entries in NASCAR points standing not already in the race. No Winston West Series competitors made the field on speed, but Mike Chase (166.312 mph) was awarded a special provisional for the highest entry in Winston West points standings (Chase was the Winston West points leader going into the race).
Very few of the one-off entries by Indy car regulars made the field. Danny Sullivan surprised himself by placing 26th for his first (and only) career Winston Cup start. Popular Indy car owner Dick Simon who was noted for never failing to qualify one of his rookie drivers at the Indy 500 fell short as his driver, NASCAR veteran Jim Sauter, ranked only 47th. After no major incidents on Thursday, Friday's qualifying saw wrecks or spins by four cars, including Daytona 500 polesitter Loy Allen Jr..
Among the drivers who chose not to make an qualifying attempt in the second round session was Ben Hess, who had been injured in an accident during a practice session earlier in the day. H. B. Bailey, who had drawn the first spot in the qualifying order Thursday was, per the inverted order, the final car to make a qualifying attempt on Friday. Bailey closed out time trials, gaining over 8 mph from his previous speed, but still fell far short of making the starting lineup.
*Stood on Thursday time
A trio of brothers - Geoff, Brett, and Todd Bodine made the field, a feat that had only been accomplished once in the history of the Indy 500. In 1982, Don, Bill, and Dale Whittington all qualified for the 500. Another trio of brothers nearly did the same as Rusty and Kenny Wallace qualified, but Mike Wallace ranked only 55th. P. J. Jones, son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, and the only driver entered who was a son of a former Indy 500 winner, did not complete a qualifying attempt.
Popular Indianapolis 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.
All living former NASCAR Winston Cup Champions were invited to participate in a pre-race parade around the track. Besides the former champions who qualified for the race (Earnhardt, Wallace, Elliott, Waltrip, and Labonte), those in attendance included Richard Petty, Rex White, Buck Baker, Ned Jarrett, and Benny Parsons. Former Daytona 500 winner Buddy Baker was also in attendance.
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.
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.
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. 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. In turn 4, however, Brett bumped Geoff in the rear bumper, and spun him out in front of the entire field. 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. Brett later admitted he spun Geoff out on purpose, and the brothers feuded for nearly two years afterward.
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 main stretch, and into turn 1. Gordon finally got by, Irvan now in second, and Wallace slipped all the way back to 7th.
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 main stretch. 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. ABC Sports announcers Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons described the finish thus:
Jenkins: Years from today when 79 (the number of Indianapolis 500s run prior to this event) stock car races have been run here, we'll remember the name: Jeff Gordon, winner of the inaugural Brickyard 400!
Parsons: Man, oh man, oh MAN!
Jenkins: Jeff is screaming on his radio back to the pit crew, "Oh my God, I did it! I did it!"
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 with King Racing would be the final top five finish of his career. It was also the best finish for car owner Kenny Bernstein at the Speedway. Bodine's second place came six days after Scott Goodyear had delivered King Racing their first Indy car victory at Michigan.
- (R) – denotes 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie contender
- (WW) – denotes NASCAR Winston West competitor
- Time of race – 3:01:51
- Average speed – 131.977 miles per hour (212.396 km/h)
- Margin of victory – 0.53 seconds
- Lead changes – 21 amongst 13 drivers
- Total purse: $3,213,849 (winner's share $613,000)
- Busch Pole Award: Rick Mast
- Busch Beer Fastest Second Round Qualifier: Terry Labonte
- Goody's Headache Award: Geoff Bodine
- AP Parts Meet the Challenge Award: Lake Speed (+26 positions)
- True Value Hard Charger Award: Jeff Gordon
- Plasti-kote Winning Finish Award: Ray Evernham
- Western Auto Mechanic of the Race: Ray Evernham
- Unocal 76 Challenge: $15,200 available to polesitter Rick Mast – not won (rollover)
Championship standings following the 1994 Brickyard 400
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/ESPN'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, and Jack Arute. ESPN carried practice and qualifying with the same crew. Ned Jarrett joined the booth crew for practice/qualifying only, but did not work in the television booth on race day (he had a contract at the time with CBS).
The race was carried live on the radio by the IMS Radio Network. The broadcast was carried by over 450 affiliates in the United States. Mike Joy served as the play-by-play, with Ned Jarrett as analyst. The turn reporters were Jerry Baker, Gary Lee, Larry Henry, and Bob Lamey. The pit reporters were Glenn Jarrett, Dave Despain, John Kernan and Chris McClure. Howdy Bell served as statistician. Chris Economaki sat in as a booth analyst during the pre-race, then as a roving reporter conducting interviews, and covering the garage area and hospital during the race. USAC historian Donald Davidson and author Greg Fielden were guests in the pre-race coverage, offering historical commentary. During the race itself, Davidson worked as a spotter for Bob Lamey on the radio. Davidson reprised his popular program The Talk of Gasoline Alley on WIBC for the week leading up to the event. Buddy Baker served as the driver analyst during qualifying coverage on Thursday and Friday (as Jarrett had commitments with ESPN). On race day, Baker was not part of the crew but visited the booth for a brief interview.
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 Phillippe and David Calabro, but John Totten did not participate.
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- 1994 Brickyard 400 Television Broadcast: ABC Sports - August 6, 1994
1994 DieHard 500
| NASCAR Winston Cup season
1994 The Bud At The Glen