Five Mind-Blowing Brickyard Stats
by Tom Jensen August 13, 2021
Although still a comparative newcomer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 has been a stage for Hall of Famers to shine.
With a history that dates back to 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is one of the world’s oldest racetracks and unquestionably one of its most significant.
This year will see the biggest change for NASCAR since it began racing at IMS in 1994. For the August 15 Verizon 200, the premier series will race on the track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course, rather than the traditional 2.5-mile oval that played host to the annual Brickyard 400.
And that makes it a perfect time to look back at some of the history generated during the first 27 years the premier series raced at IMS.
Here are five mind-blowing Brickyard stats:
HALL OF FAME OWNERS RULE
Of the 27 Brickyard 400s contested, 25 have been won by Hall of Fame owners. Rick Hendrick (2017) leads the way as his Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut has won this race 10 times – a record five with Jeff Gordon (2019), four more with Jimmie Johnson and one with Kasey Kahne.
The only Brickyard 400s not won by Hall of Fame owners came in 1997, when Ricky Rudd drove his own Ford to victory, and in 2010, the year Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag in an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
In addition to Rick Hendrick, two other Hall of Fame owners won Brickyard 400s with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte (2020), Tony Stewart (2020) and Kyle Busch all captured Brickyard 400s for Joe Gibbs (2020). Stewart and Busch each triumphed twice, giving the team owner known as “Coach” five wins in total.
Gibbs is also the only team owner to win with three different brands of cars: Labonte’s 2000 victory came driving a Pontiac, while both of Stewart’s wins in 2005 and ’07 were in Chevrolets and Busch’s triumphs in 2015 and ’16 came with him piloting Toyotas.
Eight of the first nine Brickyard 400s were won by Hall of Fame drivers:
- Jeff Gordon (2019) won in 1994, ’98 and 2001, adding later victories in ’04 and ’14.
- Dale Jarrett (2014) triumphed in 1996 and ’99.
- Dale Earnhardt (2010) won the second Brickyard 400 in 1995.
- One of the key victories in his 2000 premier series championship season was Bobby Labonte’s (2020) Brickyard 400 triumph.
- The 2002 Brickyard 400 was the 43rd of 44 career premier series race victories for Bill Elliott (2015).
Clearly, IMS is a track where the best drivers and best teams stepped onto one of NASCAR’s biggest stages.
THE FIRST RACE
The inaugural Brickyard 400 is righty remembered for Jeff Gordon’s emotional victory. Gordon, who moved to Indiana in his early teens, thrilled the partisan crowd with his win. Everybody loves a storybook ending when the hometown hero wins, right?
But the story behind the story was the entry list: A total of 86 drivers showed up attempting to qualify for the 43-car field, meaning the qualifiers and the non-qualifiers were equally split. That’s how badly drivers and teams wanted to be a part of the history making first Brickyard 400.
Among those who didn’t make the field in ’94: Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (2018), Hershel McGriff, Dick Trickle, Gary Bettenhausen and James Hylton.
FIRSTS AND LASTS
When Paul Menard won the 2011 Brickyard 400, it was the Wisconsin driver’s first victory. He would continue to compete in the premier series through the end of the 2019 season, amassing 471 career starts. Menard’s win was another feel-good story, as his father, John Menard, had tried unsuccessfully to win the Indianapolis 500 for 30 years. The 2011 victory would be the younger Menard’s only premier series victory.
The 2017 Brickyard 400, on the other hand, was the 18th and final premier series race victory for Kasey Kahne, who retired after running a partial schedule in 2018.