BRICKYARD 400 QUALIFYING
August 3, 2000
The track opened today at 7 a.m. with IROC practice beginning at 8. I hit 16th street and Crawfordsville Road at 8:30. I tried to enter in the westside entrance, but they were only allowing cars with parking passes today. I went around to 30th street and found they were not letting you into the infield from there! Only from 16th Street. Sigh. So I had to park in the North 40. There were low dark clouds and it was looking like we might get a little rain.
Tony Stewart Practicing
I caught the tram for the ride in and I got off up by the museum. There were many Nascar semi's parked in the parking lot of the museum, where the Indy FanFest used to be.
They were selling souvenirs from these trucks. I was just looking for bumper stickers for my garage refrigerator. I got a few for $1, but most were $3, and so I skipped those. I was especially happy to find that the Official Speedway giftstore had 1 ounce silver coins minted to commemorate the Brickyard 400 and also the U.S. Grand Prix (to be held next month). I bought one for $35. It was 1 of a limited quantity of 2000. The last time I found such a coin was back in 1991 for the 75th Anniversary of the Indy 500. That coin was 1 of 25,000.
Besides the vendors, various car companies had car displays set up. At one tent, people stood in line to sit in a Nascar racer and have their picture taken for free. At another booth, a few nice arcade racing games were set up.
I felt a faint sprinkle during IROC practice, but it didn't halt anything. After a really hot month, I was glad today was overcast. It was nice and cool and there was a slight breeze.
I made my way over toward the 1st turn and then up towards the garage area. I was irked to discover that they would not allow you to go into the stands here, NOR would they allow you to cross over past the garages and through Gasoline Alley. I later
found out that there was no pits - cars entering the track came in toward turn 1 while cars exiting the track went through Gasoline Alley. NONE THE LESS, there should have been signs telling the thousands of people who were flowing in there that they were going to get trapped. You then had to walk all the way back to the middle of the speedway and follow Hulman Blvd past all the garages and tents to the north end of the tower, and then come in!! Geesh.
There was really a large crowd turn-out today! I would say it AT LEAST equalled the turn-out for the First Day of Qualifications for the Indy 500. These Nascar fans wear a lot of colorful team logo stuff. It was rather humorous in the fact that butterflies were making their way into the stands, attracted by all the colors. High in the stands, I saw a butterfly land on top of some man's purplish cap, looking for nectar. The only nectar to be found though was of the Budweiser and Miller variety.
By noon, the sun was starting to burn away the low hanging clouds. Qualifying began at 1:30. Soon, the sun came out and it was a pretty day. I noticed that the fans seemed to cheer the hardest for Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The cars would take a lap and the next lap was their qualifier. They only had one lap to qualify, whereas at the Indy 500, they have 4 qualifying laps. As soon as one racer was on pit road, the next car in line was out taking their warmup lap. This way, they quickly got a lot of cars qualified.
Four times today, I heard "And its a new track record!" Darrell Waltrip, who is retiring from a long career in Winston Cup, was the third man to break a track qualifying record and capture the pole. The crowd enthusiastically gave Darrell a standing ovation.
But it was not to last. Ricky Rudd came out and hit 181.068 mph and captured the pole for the 7th annual Brickyard 400.
Jeff Gordon qualified about 27th, disappointing many of his fans.
It was rather surprising that as soon as his run was completed, thousands of people immediately got up and left! I'm sure Jeff will be back tomorrow and try to qualify again.
Jeff Gordon liked my webpage so much, that he changed his car's colors to that of my site! Thanks Jeff! :-)
By the way, Happy Birthday!
Well, I can't go back tomorrow, have to go on a job interview. I don't have tickets for Saturday's race so I guess I'll be watching it on tv.
1998 Brickyard 400 Journal