Due to having to move, I missed doing a top 10 for the more established of the two races at New Hampshire two weeks ago. This weekend, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series visits the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their 18th race at the famed 2.5 mile track. In all honesty, I'm not expecting much in the way of a good race this weekend and I think most fans are in the same boat. However despite the track's infamous inability to provide good racing, that doesn't mean there haven't been good races at the Brickyard. Here's my top 10 list of what I consider to be the best Brickyard 400's.
10. 2007 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dIe5kPcTtY
I will fully disclose that it was difficult filling out the bottom four races for this list because the racing at the Speedway is so unmemorable, especially in recent years. The 2007 running of the event did feature a great duel between close friends Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. Stewart took the lead with 10 to go and went on to win while Harvick's car faded and he finished seventh.
9. 1998 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0VUKTrL83U
Dale Jarrett looks to be the man to beat on the day, but his crew screws up on calculating his fuel mileage and he runs out under green around halfway. Anyone who knows anything about the 1998 season knows that it was Jeff Gordon's year and it should come as no surprise that he was the big benefactor in Jarrett's woes as he was able to dominate the rest of the event and win.
8. 2003 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=273hdF3VBv4
The 2003 event looked to be Jamie McMurray's until misfortune found him. A late race restart saw McMurray in the lead ahead of Kevin Harvick however several cars on the tail end of the lead lap led the restart. The traffic proved to be McMurray's undoing as Harvick moved by to take the lead and the win. McMurray had to wait seven more years before he would win at the Brickyard.
7. 2002 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-3b_KZvryU
It looked like 1988 and 1989 all over again in the final laps of the 2002 Brickyard 400 with Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott dueling for the lead and the win. Wallace did all he could to hold off Elliott who had the superior car, but had to give way with 12 laps remaining. Elliott would claim the win while Wallace had to settle for second at the Brickyard for the third time in his career.
6. 2005 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA6JAmtyaNQ
Three drivers dominate this race: Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart. Kahne leads the field on the last restart, but Stewart strikes quickly, taking the race lead and going on to win what is likely the biggest of his career.
5. 2001 Brickyard 400
Steve Park looked primed and ready to take home the trophy in 2001 at Indy but wonky pit strategy caught him out and played in the favor of Jeff Gordon. After struggling with his car most of the day, Gordon's crew got the setup right in the final stages of the event as he led the final 25 circuits to win his third Brickyard 400.
4. 1997 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEl1hiqJep0
The 1997 race came down to fuel mileage and timing. Under the next to last caution, the majority of the field pits for fuel while Ricky Rudd and Bobby Labonte stay out, believing they have enough to make the distance. It proves true as Rudd takes the biggest win of his career, holding off Labonte in a final three lap shootout.
3. 1996 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmu6neMhl0Q
This might have been the greatest race for Robert Yates Racing. The final 10 laps saw a furious fight for the lead and the win between teammates Ernie Irvan and Dale Jarrett. DJ prevailed with just seven remaining and held on to take the win.
2. 1994 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JyXsSw3H5w
The inaugural Brickyard 400 provided everything you could want in a race; good racing, a little bit of controversey and an exciting finish. Nobody knows if Ernie Irvan would have been able to hold off Jeff Gordon had his tire not failed. But it was Gordon's day and Gordon's moment as he took the win in what will likely always be NASCAR's biggest debut race in the modern era.
1. 1995 Brickyard 400 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsodo3-fETw
I've heard some folks say that the 1995 event was boring but I disagree. This is my favorite of all the Brickyard 400s. Anyone who has a copy of this event should watch it again and see how the event unfolds. Even though there was only a single caution flag for four laps, the event saw 17 lead changes and didn't have a real clear cut favorite. Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt and Sterling Marlin all had lap leader counts in the double digits. The race came down to a final green flag pit stop. If you ask Rusty Wallace, he'll tell you that he was done in by a mistake in the pits by another team that cost him valuable seconds, enough time for Earnhardt to take the lead and hold on for the win. Another thing that I've always thought was cool was how the cars entered the track after sitting in the garage area during the rain delay.
Agree or disagree with my list? Your comments and views are appreciated!
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