INDIANAPOLIS – Two years ago, was Jeff Gordon’s farewell at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’d unfortunately crash and finish 42nd, his worst finish ever at the Brickyard 400. Last year, Gordon showed back up replacing an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., he’d finish 13th that day. For the first time in the history of the Brickyard 400, Gordon won’t be behind the wheel of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride at the famed 2.5-mile track this weekend – he will be driving the pace car instead.
Also, last year was Tony Stewart’s final farewell at his home track too. Stewart, started third and finished 11th. He won’t be back this year either. He will be here as an owner.
Both drivers rank as two of the top three drivers to ever driver a stock car around the IMS oval. Now, they’re on the sidelines for good. With this race seeing attendance drop drastically over the last eight years, all the home fans have left to cheer for now is Ryan Newman.
Is he ready for that?
Combined, Gordon and Stewart have won seven of the 23 Brickyard 400’s. Gordon finished in the top 10 in all but six races at Indy. Stewart, had 11 top 10’s in 18 tries. They’ve annually given the Hoosier fans something to cheer about.
Well, now it’s Newman’s turn.
Newman, has already won a race in his No. 31 Chevrolet this season, taking the checkered flag first at Phoenix back in March. Furthermore, the South Bend native has a victory in the prestigious race as well, crossing the yard of bricks first in 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing. On top of that, his new team Richard Childress Racing has won three times at Indy (Dale Earnhardt 1995, Kevin Harvick 2003, Paul Menard 2011). So, they do know their way around the Brickyard.
But, can Newman get to victory lane for his homestate fans.
Newman, has just two top 10 finishes over his last 14 Brickyard 400 starts. It’s not like he’s been bad though, as he’s had an 11th to 15th place car in those races. In fact, in seven of those 14 starts, he’s finished between 11th and 15th.
In practice this weekend, Newman was 11th and sixth respectively.
So, is he ready to give Indiana fans something to cheer about like Gordon and Stewart did?