NASCAR WCUP: Gordon takes record third pole at the Brickyard 400
5 August 1999INDIANAPOLIS - Jeff Gordon turned his home track into his playground Thursday, winning his record third career pole for the Brickyard 400 with a track-record speed of 179.612 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gordon, raised in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., was the fourth of 55 NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers to make a qualifying attempt under sunny skies at the historic 2.5-mile oval. His time of 50.108 seconds in the DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet stood up for his record third pole for this event, breaking an event record he shared with Ernie Irvan. Gordon also won the pole in 1995 and 1996.
"I did bobble a little bit in (Turn) 1, and I thought that would cost me," Gordon said. "But I think a lot of guys did the same thing. I'm really proud to sit on my third pole here at Indianapolis. This is a special place."
Gordon broke the event-record speed of 179.394 set by Irvan during qualifying last year. Gordon now will try to earn a record third victory at this event, as he won the inaugural race in 1994 and again last year. The 160-lap race starts at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
Mark Martin qualified on the outside of the front row at 178.941 in the Valvoline Ford. David Green tied a career best by qualifying third at 178.902 in the Kodiak Chevrolet.
"He's a better driver than most of us, if not all of us," Martin said of Gordon. "And I think he drives a better car than most, if not all, of us. We'll just go race. Do the best that we can. Sometimes it's good enough, sometimes it's not."
NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett qualified fourth at 178.859 in the Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford. Michael Waltrip rounded out the top five at 178.816 in the Philips Electronics Chevrolet. "We've got a good race car - it's the same car as last year except with a bigger fuel cell," said Jarrett, who ran out of gas last year while dominating this event. "We knew it was going to be tough to catch Jeff, so we worked on qualifying in the top 10."
All four drivers with Indiana ties - Gordon, John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Kenny Irwin - were among the 25 drivers who qualified for the field. Andretti was 10th in the STP Pontiac at 178.476, Stewart 11th in The Home Depot Pontiac at 178.348 and Irwin 15th in the Texaco/Havoline Ford at 178.052.
Among the notables who failed to qualify Thursday were three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, who announced that he will retire after the 2000 season, and two-time Brickyard pole winner Irvan. Second-round qualifying starts at noon Friday. The IROC at Indy race starts at 4 p.m. Friday, as Dale Earnhardt will try to achieve an unprecedented sweep of all four events this season in racing's "all-star game."