Winners of a Brickyard 400 during Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Brickyard 400 is a shade of a former self, said Jeff Gordon. When he thinks behind on his feat in a initial race in 1994, he remembers some “pretty damn good racing.” But that’s not what he’s saying anymore.
The adopted Hoosier and retired NASCAR star pronounced he loves Indianapolis Motor Speedway, yet there hasn’t been fantastic batch automobile racing on lane there in some-more than a decade, and that’s why there are no longer 200,000 fans in a seats. Fortunately, he said, there’s a trail toward a some-more successful future, and it starts this weekend.
The stream Fox analyst, who will be behind a circle of a gait automobile this weekend, spoke with IndyStar on Thursday about since he believes there’s still wish for a Brickyard 400, his predictions for this weekend’s race and how he’s taken to a promote booth:
Question: How many are we looking brazen to pushing a gait car?
Answer: I’m unequivocally looking brazen to it. Indianapolis has been so special to me over a years. we remember as a child going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch a Indy 500. we remember a initial Brickyard event. Now, I’m going for what I’m call a trifecta. we gathering a gait automobile for a Indianapolis 500, we gathering it during Daytona and now I’m pushing it for a Brickyard, so that’s flattering special.
Q: Are we enjoying retirement — or during slightest being divided from a lane full time?
A: Very much. Very much. It’s a grueling, chaotic report with 38 weeks. And now there’s a lot being asked of everybody on a team. Whether it be scheming for a competition or assembly with sponsors or fans or media. To do that for as prolonged as we did, it took a lot of out me. But we enjoyed it unequivocally much, and now I’m enjoying this subsequent section in life. I’m not pursuit it retirement, nonetheless some others do (laughs). we feel like I’m as bustling as I’ve ever been. But it’s been nice. Since a Fox season has ended, I’ve been means to spend some genuine peculiarity time with my kids and my wife, and I’m enjoying that unequivocally much. We’re going on a family outing in Aug overseas. Then I’ll be flattering tough behind during it with Hendrick (Motorsports) and some other partners we do some work for.
Q: Now that you’ve been in a promote counter for dual years, is it as many fun as you’d hoped?
A: I’m enjoying it some-more that we ever anticipated. we was vehement about it final year, yet nervous, like anybody is when you’re going into something new for a initial time. This year we enjoyed it some-more since I’m some-more comfortable, some-more confident, a small bit some-more relaxed. we know a upsurge of weekend, a people I’m operative with. … It’s fun. I consider it’s a best approach for someone like myself to transition since we still have that small bit of competitiveness in me. Of course, as a competition automobile driver, we have a small bit of that adrenaline rush that you’re looking for and that comes with live TV. Pushing yourself and perplexing to investigate a competition in a best probable way. You try to move a many to a promote and you’re partial of a live event.
Q: Speaking of an adrenaline rush, are we feeling the itch to get behind in a automobile this weekend?
A: DW (Darrell Waltrip) and I, we giggle and speak about this all of a time. There are still marks where we say, we can go there, still be competitive. A Martinsville or a Sonoma, positively marks like that. When we go to those tracks, we unequivocally have a small bit of that itch. When we see dual or 3 cars in good conflict like final year during Dover; we desired that conflict been Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth. Those are a moments we live for as a competition automobile driver. But for a many part, I’m unequivocally happy with where I’m at. I’m happy with a approach my career went. I’m flattering happy a way it ended, other than finishing third in a points rather than initial (laughs). To usually be means to go out competing for a championship was positively amazing. we consider if my career wasn’t as over as it was, afterwards maybe I’d have a worse time doing what I’m doing.
Q: When we started racing a Brickyard 400, hundreds of thousands of fans were attendance. Now, usually a fragment of that comes to a race. What happened? And how can it be remedied?
A: There’s no easy answer. I had a possibility to come to a Indy 500 when we gathering a gait car a integrate years ago, and it reminded me of — since we went to a 500 as a child and we follow all forms of engine sports — how special that event is. People come from all over a universe to watch that competition since of a history, since of a Speedway, since of a competition itself. The racing’s been flattering damn good lately, too. we consider that was a box for a Brickyard for a initial 5 or 10 years. But a racing itself has not been spectacular.
I consider this year with reduction downforce and stages, it gives it an eventuality to have a best competition we’ve had in several years. But I’m substantially some-more meddlesome in what we’ll see in a Xfinity Series competition with a changes they’re creation aerodynamically and horsepower-wise there to see if we can find a package that works. we demeanour during a Indy 500, and we demeanour during their aero package and energy package — we know they’re many opposite cars — but we consider this examination could unequivocally compensate off for a Cup Series in a future. Stock cars traditionally have not left good on prosaic tracks. We saw that a small bit of that in New Hampshire and maybe in Pocono. Indy is a one-groove competition lane other than those double-file restarts. It’ll be good to see if we can get a racing behind to being fantastic with drafting and a swapping of a lead.
Q: What are your thoughts on a Brickyard being changed to September?
A: If we can find a approach to urge a racing, so there’s a small bit some-more flitting going on, afterwards also relocating after in a deteriorate — it’s heartless there in July. Coming there final year, it was my initial competition back, and we was failing inside that car. So we can’t suppose what fans are going by in grandstands. So we do consider an composition to a report will be good for that race.
Q: Alex Bowman was named a inheritor to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a No. 88 car. Was he a good choice?
A: I consider he’s a good choice. He’s young. He got in a automobile final year and did an extraordinary job. The group favourite operative with him, and Junior has unequivocally upheld it. So have a sponsors and a fans. we consider all a approach around it’s a win-win for everybody. He did such an extraordinary pursuit behind a wheel. we know what that automobile was like. we gathering it final year (for 8 races). We started improving a opening when we was in a car, yet afterwards Alex went to Phoenix and sat on a stick and had an glorious possibility during winning that race. He’s usually a good driver, and we consider it’s going to be fun to watch.
Q: Is NASCAR going to be means to redeem after Junior joins you, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards as large time stars who are finished with full-time racing?
A: Yes. we consider each once in awhile, we go by cycles — we’re going by one right now where you’ve got some drivers who have stepped out like me and Tony and Carl and now Junior. What that does is emanate unequivocally good peculiarity rides for some immature gifted up-and-coming drivers like Larson and (Ryan) Blaney and (Erik) Jones and Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott. To me, a list of immature drivers of who have good ability who are out there right now that are in good rides, it’s impressive. So there’s no doubt in my mind they can lift a competition for prolonged time. What we hear and see out of fans is that they don’t leave a competition since their motorist left if they have someone that can get vehement about that they can follow. we consider we have that.
Q: Indianapolis fans have not had a possibility to see theatre racing in chairman yet. What are they in for this weekend?
A: Stage racing has been good everywhere we’ve left since — well, take Charlotte in May for instance. We had unequivocally few cautions and one motorist who flattering many dominated a whole competition and finished adult winning it. Even yet we saw some of a same performers creation that occur this year, it still breaks adult a race. From a promote booth, what we adore about it is that a 600-mile competition or a 500-mile competition or even 400 miles, a competition seems like it goes by many faster. If we demeanour during time, it competence not, yet by violation it adult and noticing a points that go into a playoffs from a theatre leader or usually deteriorate points we can benefit by being in a tip 10 in a stage, afterwards meaningful where cautions are going to fall, it creates singular plan for a teams. So we adore it all a approach around. we consternation if we shouldn’t be 4 stages instead of three. But that’s adult to NASCAR and a teams.
I adore a approach it breaks adult races, and we consider it will assistance during Indy. Those double-file restarts are heated and crazy during that place. And a stages will play a large role.
Q: Any predictions for this weekend?
A: Oh, predictions (laughs). Oh man, right now, it seems like (Martin) Truex Jr. and Larson are a category of a field. we consider Kyle Busch is due and he’s won during this race. This could be a arrange of dermatitis weekend for him. They’ve been winning newly yet usually not removing a wins. we don’t know. I’m meddlesome to see if Larson can step up. The approach he’s running, he usually seems to be one of those guys that when it’s a large eventuality and there’s a lot on a line, he has a approach of stepping up. And so we consider it could be Larson’s weekend.
Follow IndyStar Motor Sports Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter and Instagram: @jimayello.