Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Driver Scratches Out 17th-Place Finish in Brickyard 400


Date:  July 27, 2014

Event:  21st Annual Brickyard 400 (Round 20 of 36)

Series:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location:  Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)

Start/Finish:  6th/17th (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)

Point Standing: 19th (529 points, 188 out of first)

Winner:  Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Tony Stewart’s home track, as the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion hails from nearby Columbus, Indiana. Upon racing at the historic, 2.5-mile oval as a Sprint Cup rookie in 1999, Stewart has seemingly held a homefield advantage ever since with two wins (2005 and 2007), 227 laps led and, until Sunday, only two finishes outside of the top-12 in 15 career starts.

But when the green flag dropped on the 21st running of the Brickyard 400, homefield held no advantage for Stewart. 

After starting sixth, Stewart keyed his radio on just the second lap to say he was “really loose back to the gas.” The loose-handling condition persisted, and by lap 26 Stewart had fallen to 19th. 

Crew chief Chad Johnston made gains by constantly adjusting the Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, as Stewart radioed just past the halfway mark of the 160-lap race that his car was “more secure in the center (of the corner) but still loose off.” 

But what really thwarted the team’s progress was an unscheduled pit stop on lap 118. Stewart’s lap times had fallen off drastically, and the feel of his racecar just wasn’t right. Sensing a flat tire, Stewart brought his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops machine to pit road under green for four fresh tires and fuel. 

This dropped Stewart off the lead lap, but he was the first car a lap down. When the caution came out on lap 140, he earned his lap back as the “lucky dog”.

Stewart took advantage of the caution to make his final pit stop of the day, and when he restarted the race, he was mired in 25th. But with a Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy that was the best it had been all day, Stewart rallied to finish 17th.

Despite the outcome, Stewart maintained his 100 percent lap completion rate at Indy, for even though he came home 17th, he finished on the lead lap. His only other Brickyard 400 finishes that were outside the top-12 prior to Sunday were 2001 (17th) and 2008 (23rd).

Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started from the pole after a track-record qualifying lap on Saturday and led twice for 12 laps en route to an eighth-place finish. It was his ninth top-10 this season and his eighth top-10 in 14 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started seventh and finished 28th, one lap down.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 14th and finished 42nd after her car broke a rear gear following a lap-69 pit stop. The crew replaced the part during a lengthy stay in the garage, and she ended up completing only 114 laps.

Jeff Gordon won the 21st annual Brickyard 400 to score his 90th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his series-best fifth at Indianapolis.

Kyle Busch finished 2.325 seconds behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 16 laps, with two drivers failing to finish.

With round 20 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 12th with 565 points, 152 behind first-place Gordon. Stewart is 19th with 529 points, 188 out of first. Kurt Busch is 25th with 456 points, 261 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 382 points, 335 out of first.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 400 on Sunday, Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its prerace show at noon.