IMS Brickyard 400 Preview: Gordon Guns for 3rd Consecutive Pole
24 July 1997
Countdown to the Brickyard GORDON GUNNING FOR THIRD STRAIGHT BRICKYARD POLE For Immediate Release INDIANAPOLIS, July 24, 1997 -- Jeff Gordon will attempt to win his third straight pole position for the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race when first-round time trials begin on July 31. Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., will once again try to thrill fans when qualifying gets under way in preparation for the richest purse in Winston Cup racing on Aug. 2. Gordon broke his 1995 qualifying record last year with a lap of 176.419 mph. That shattered his old record by more than 1.1 seconds. The 25-year old Hendrick Motorsports driver isn't sure he can better that mark this year. "I wasn't even thinking about sitting on the pole last year," Gordon said. "We were hoping for a top five or a top 10, and we were going to have to hang it out to do that. It turned out we got a whole lot more than we bargained for. We tried to get as much as we could out of it, and that's what we did." Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 after starting from the third position. He ended up 37th in the 40-car field last year after an accident on lap 40 knocked his No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo out of the race. "I just went into the corner and blew a right front tire," he said. "It was pretty disappointing because you get such high expectations going into the Brickyard 400. That wasn't such a good birthday present last year." Gordon turns 26 on Aug. 4, two days after this year's race. His biggest purse came in 1994 when he won $613,000 for taking the checkered flag in the inaugural race. Winning the Brickyard 400 pole is also quite lucrative. Gordon has one pole to his credit in '97. He captured the pole and won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Winning from the pole at Indianapolis would be quite a windfall. "That's what we're going to try to do," Gordon said. "Winning the pole will be difficult. We haven't won many poles this year, but we'd sure like to win one at Indy." Gordon's seven victories led the circuit through the first 17 events of the season. No one else had recorded more than two wins. And Gordon trailed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Terry Labonte by only three points after 17 of 32 events. "We've still got to work on our consistency," Gordon commented. "We win a bunch of races, but we have trouble finishing some, too. Out biggest concern is running for the championship." Gordon has won more races than any driver on the circuit since 1995. He won seven that year, 10 in '96 and has seven victories to his credit already in '97. He's won almost one-third of the races (24) in his past 79 starts. Led by veteran crew chief Ray Evernham and his team of Rainbow Warriors, Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Labonte may be the cars to beat for the title again this season. But 1996 Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt also are still in the hunt. "It looks like it's going to be a fight to the finish again," Gordon said. "I just hope we can be a part of it. I'd sure like to become the first driver to win two Brickyard 400's and a second championship would be great, too. Winning the Brickyard 400 and the championship would be awesome. No one has ever done that in the same season, so maybe we can be the first." ..BY97-05..