Brickyard 400: Gordon Cashes in, Becomes First Two-Time Winner
2 August 1998INDIANAPOLIS, - Jeff Gordon passed Dale Earnhardt on Lap 127 and then drove straight to the bank Saturday, earning $1,637,625 for winning the fifth annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gordon's winning sum included a $1 million Winston No Bull 5 bonus. Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Ind., became the first two-time winner of this event. He also won the inaugural in 1994.
Defending Winston Cup champion Gordon won the race under the yellow flag, as a multicar crash during a restart on Lap 158 forced the race to end under caution. Mark Martin was second in the Valvoline Ford, while Bobby Labonte was third in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac.
"Indianapolis is such a special race," Gordon said. "It never seemed like we had it in our hands 'til the end.
"Winning the inaugural was awesome. Winning this one just blows me away."
Jimmy Spencer crashed on Lap 155, and the subsequent caution period appeared to setup a final shootout between Gordon and Martin on the 2.5-mile oval. But on the restart on Lap 158, four cars - including defending champion Ricky Rudd - crashed coming out of Turn 4 en route to the flagstand.
The race became a one-lap dash as Gordon and Martin charged around the historic oval one last time to see the yellow flag that ultimately ended the race. Martin closed in on Gordon's DuPont/Quaker State/Pepsi/GMAC Chevrolet in Turn 2. But Martin's Ford lost traction, causing him to slip back and let Gordon pull away for his sixth victory of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season.
"I just didn't have enough car," Martin said. "I doubt I could have passed him. I probably could have caught him. It sure looked like I was gaining on him."
It sure looked for a while like 1996 Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett would become the first two-time champion of this race, not Gordon. Jarrett dominated early in the race, leading laps 54 through 80 in his Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford. That lead hit its zenith on Lap 76, when Jarrett Led Gordon by 4.232 seconds.
But Jarrett's car ran out of gas on Lap 80, the halfway point of the race. He lost four laps while limping around to the pits. Despite the fuel miscalcuation, Jarrett scrambled to finish on the lead lap in 16th.
"I had a great race car," Jarrett said. "I drive the race car. I come in when they tell me. That's all I do."
Pole sitter Ernie Irvan led twice for 25 laps and finished sixth in the Skittles Pontiac.