IMS Brickyard 400 Preview: Ernie Irvan
24 July 1997
Countdown to the Brickyard IRVAN HOPES LADY LUCK RIDING SHOTGUN AT THE BRICKYARD For Immediate Release INDIANAPOLIS, July 23, 1997 -- In his two previous Brickyard 400's, Ernie Irvan hasn't been able to buy a break, so the 38-year-old California native figures it's time for Lady Luck to ride shotgun in his No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Thunderbird on Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Irvan led four times for 39 laps in last year's Brickyard 400. He held the advantage from laps 139 - 153 until his Robert Yates teammate Dale Jarrett passed him with seven laps remaining and held on for the victory in the 160-lap race at the historic 2.5-mile oval. The runner-up finish was worth $267,285 for Irvan, and that remains the largest single-race purse of his career. But, like everyone who races at the Brickyard, Irvan wanted to win. "It was heartbreaking," Irvan said. "It was more heartbreaking than getting that flat tire in 1994." Irvan led laps 156 - 160 in the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 until a flat tire forced him to the pits after a door-to-door battle with eventual winner Jeff Gordon. Irvan finished 17th, one lap off the pace, in 1994. Injures sustained in an accident during practice at Michigan International Speedway in 1995 prevented Irvan from competing in the second annual Brickyard 400, but he came back loaded for bear last season. "I was happy just to go back and race again," Irvan said. "It was a great battle with Dale Jarrett last year, just like it was a great battle with Jeff Gordon in '94. Maybe we can get a break this year and win it. We just fell a little bit short last year. We really wanted to go to victory lane, but you can't win 'em all. The Brickyard 400 sure would be a nice one to win." Irvan won earlier this season at Michigan. He held 16th place in the series standings through the first 16 races with six top 10s and five DNFs. He's managed to finish both of his starts at the Brickyard, but he has yet to find the way to victory lane. "It was my race to win and my race to lose both times, and I ended up losing both of them," Irvan said. "We'll win some like that, and we'll lose some like that. I don't really care how we win 'em as long as we win. Everybody puts a lot of emphasis on winning the Brickyard 400. It's one of our biggest races of the season, and if we can get just a little bit of luck on our side, I think we'll have a real good shot at it this year." ..BY97-04..