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The Fourth Turn
July 29th 2012 - Fourth Turn- NASCAR Brickyard Weekend
Paul Gohde
Speedway, IN
July 28, 2012
NOTES:
Observers noted that today’s Brickyard 400 crowd appeared to be about the same as last year’s. The weekend total should be up however, due to the addition of three extra races this year. Pre-race ticket sales for the 400 had been described as flat by the track.

Two drivers who desperately need a win to make the Chase had less than stellar days in the Brickyard 400. Jeff Gordon had the best run, finishing 5th after a slow pit stop on lap 124. Carl Edwards pitted on lap 13 and later on lap 42 when his crew changed the spark plug wires and ignition box, and then he was hit with a speeding penalty on his way back out. He ran well after that but was 4 laps down at the finish.
In a recent interview on IBJ.com (the Indianapolis Business Journal website), Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesperson Doug Boles noted that the rumored weakening of the relationship between IMS and NASCAR regarding the future of the Brickyard 400 is not true. Boles characterized the relationship as, “secure,” and he said that, “There is no thought internally (at IMS) or within NASCAR that this race shouldn’t continue.”

The recurring subject of lighting the mammoth facility also was discussed and some positive feelings toward the potentially expensive project were noted. “Those types of discussion are more common now than they were even a year and a half ago,” Boles noted. “Our consideration is it would allow us to get our fans out of the heat of the day.” In the past, Speedway officials were reluctant to discuss lighting out of respect for the neighborhood in which the track is located. Speculation is that a project of that magnitude could cost in the tens of millions of dollars. The track is one of few major NASCAR facilities without lights and night racing.

It will likely never be known what NASCAR and the Speedway thought would constitute a ‘good’ crowd for Saturday’s Nationwide Series Indiana 250, but it looked like 25-30,000 or perhaps more may have made the move from Lucas Oil Raceway to 16th St. for Saturday’s inaugural event. Whether the fairly exciting race will satisfy the short track fans who were disappointed when the race was moved from LOR will remain to be seen. Will this event eventually help to raise attendance for the Brickyard 400? Again-we’ll see.

With 47 Sprint Cup cars on the grounds, there finally was some ‘bumping’ during qualifying at the Speedway. The Nationwide Series drew 45 entries, while the two Rolex events had 104 starters.
Starworks Motorsports, the winners of the Rolex Brickyard Grand Prix, has finished second at the Rolex 24at Daytona, won its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. By capturing the North American Endurance Championship, the team also earned a $ 100,000 bonus.

Legendary NASCAR team owner Leonard Wood was on the grounds at IMS on Friday discussing his upcoming election to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Wood Brothers 62-year racing history, especially here in Indianapolis. “We won the Indianapolis 500 here (in 1965) with Jim Clark. The Hall of Fame wanted to celebrate me a little bit at this particular track because we won that race (as Clark’s pit crew). It was 30 years after we won that race that NASCAR came here. The pit stall we had (for that first Brickyard race in 1994) was the exact one we had in 1965.”

Word from JR Motorsports Vice President and co-owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller is that Danica Patrick, who is headed for the Sprint Cup series full time in 2013, may be interested in doing a limited Nationwide Series schedule for the team; possibly sharing the No. 7 Chevrolet with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Depending on sponsorship money, a third car could be added to join the team’s regular driver Cole Whitt.
Four drivers have competed in all 19 Brickyard races: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte.

The Brickyard starting grid featured 18 Chevrolets, 12 Fords, 11 Toyotas and 2 Dodges. Dodge did not make any announcements this weekend regarding their future plans in NASCAR competition. It is also becoming less likely that Andretti Autosport will establish a NASCAR team for the 2013 season; time being a determining factor.

NASCAR.com reports that suspended Penske Racing driver A.J.Allmendinger will meet with team owner Roger Penske next week. The driver’s future may be discussed as well as possible replacements while Allmendinger begins his rehab program. ”We’ve talked to him every day, and tried to keep his spirits up, but he realizes it’s a serious situation,” Penske said. “I hope that he’ll rebound and have a successful career because he’s a terrific kid.”

Two-time Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, who is filming “Rush”, a Formula 1 movie about the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, talked about driving the 2013 60th Anniversary Corvette Pace Car during the pace laps: “It was a real thrill, and I am glad I was able to pull it off OK, but I will never forget it. I also had enough composure to click off a picture while doing it, too, so we’ll see how that turns out. By going to the drivers’ meeting, I really felt like I was part of the event.”