Stock car drivers get piece of Indy history

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS -- The driver who wins Saturday's Brickyard 400 at the Indian apolis Motor Speedway will earn the same number of points in the series standings as the driver who wins at Dover, Del., or Loudon, N.H., or Martinsville, Va.

The trophy isn't anything special, either just a silver-plated brick.

While the Brickyard is thick in racing history, the stock cars from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series are relative neophytes at the 212-mile oval. Six years of stock car racing at a 90-year-old raceway is hardly enough time to build a legacy.

And yet, drivers understand the importance of becoming part of Indy's history.

The Indianapolis 500 re mains the premier event in motorsports.

It attracts more than 450,000 fans, but the split between CART and the Indy Racing League has diluted the fields and steered interest into other areas like stock cars.

The crowd for Saturday's Brickyard 400 will be about 350,000. The speedway insists the 500-mile race in May will remain the biggest sporting event in the world by not selling infield tickets to the stock car race.

If the infield were open for general admission, most feel the stock car race would attract more fans than the Indiana polis 500.

But will it ever replace the 500 as the biggest race in the world? Will it ever replace the Daytona 500 as the biggest stock car race on the schedule?

Probably not.

''Start asking drivers to compare the Brickyard 400 and the Daytona 500, and the answer is going to be different depending on who you ask,'' said driver John Andretti, who along with Tony Stewart, A.J. Foyt and Robby Gordon, are the only drivers to compete in both races at Indianapolis.

''My whole life has been the Indianapolis Motor Speedway not the Brickyard 400, but the Indianapolis 500. The Daytona 500 is the dream of every stock car driver. Am I supposed to alter my dreams, or have others alter theirs? I don't know.

''To me, the Indy 500 is still very important, but I think that anything that happens at Indy is big."

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