The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the Brickyard 400. There are 41 drivers entered into the event and with only seven regular season races remaining before the playoffs begin, expect the competition to intensify.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 with a track surface consisting of crushed stone and tar but was repaved with 3.2 million bricks for the first running of the Indy 500 in 1911. By October 1961 the bricks were completely covered with asphalt and now only a one-yard strip of bricks remain at the start/finish line.
The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 was held on August 6, 1994, and was won by Jeff Gordon. It was the first race, other than the Indianapolis 500, to be held at the track since 1916. But did you know it was NASCAR’s most-attended race of the season with an estimated 250,000 plus fans on hand to watch the event?
While the track is best known for the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR has made its mark there as well. Did you know that “kissing the bricks” was started by Dale Jarrett? In 1996, after winning the Brickyard 400, Jarrett and his crew chief, Todd Parrott, paid tribute to the track’s history by kneeling down and kissing the “Yard of Bricks.” The entire team quickly joined them, starting a tradition that continues today with winners of both the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400.
There have been 23 Cup Series races at the 2.5-mile track and 13 different drivers have visited Victory Lane. Gordon leads all drivers with five wins and Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four. But did you know that only two drivers have captured consecutive Cup Series wins at Indy? Johnson did so in 2008 and 2009 while Kyle Busch won the last two (2015-2016).
Johnson leads the way as we head to Indianapolis with four victories, the series-best driver rating (105.7) plus six top fives and one pole. He is one of only four drivers who have won from the pole (2008). Johnson also has the distinction of winning from the deepest in the field, starting in 16th place, for his 2009 triumph.
But did you know that last year at Indianapolis Busch became the only driver in history to win the XFINITY Series and Cup Series races from the pole in the same weekend? Busch, still seeking his first victory of the season, has the series second-best driver rating (105.5) at the track plus two wins, five top fives, one pole and the second-best average finish of ninth. He also has the series-most quality passes with 356.
Matt Kenseth is another driver to watch as he looks for his first win of the year to guarantee his spot in the playoffs. He is currently 12th in the standings and has never won at Indy. However, he has the fourth-best driver rating (98.3), eight top fives and 11 top 10s. And did you know that Kenseth leads all active drivers at Indianapolis with three runner-up finishes and eight top-five finishes?
Qualifying well will be crucial this weekend. The Coors Light Pole has produced four winners while two races have been won from second place. Twelve of the 23 Cup Series events (52.2 percent) have been won from a top five starting position.
The on-track Cup Series action begins Saturday with the first practice at 9 a.m. ET and concludes with Coors Light Pole qualifying at 6:15 p.m. ET. The Brickyard 400 is set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
In the meantime, check out the video below to relive a few of the most memorable Brickyard 400 finishes.
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