The weekend that was: Indianapolis

July 29, 2014 No Comments
Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

By Mark Schafer

One driver earned his first career victory, another earned his 90th and before that the dirt was slung and a new king of dirt track racing was crowned.

Jeff Gordon needed an extra restart, and a tiny bit of luck based off a timely caution to move within 10 wins of closing in on 100 victories. Although the chase still looms this has been one of the strongest years for Gordon.

Two wins is not the most race wins of any driver this year, however the performance that Gordon had put together all year has been either near the front of the pack week in and week out. With the win at Indianapolis, the second of the season for Gordon, he has moved to a 24 point lead over teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Every victory, especially this season, is important to the drivers. Gordon’s win on Sunday, though, was a little more special and not just because he won on the 20th anniversary of the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at the Brickyard.

Before the final restart that decided the race, it seemed that although Gordon’s car was one of the strongest all day it appeared more to be a car that picked up on the longer runs. On prior restarts Gordon’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, had been able to pull away with the lead.

When the final restart came with 18 laps to go, it seemed that Kahne might be the one that would end up in the shadow of the pagoda swigging down the milk along side his first win of the season. Getting the win from the outside groove, which had not been the preferred groove all day long, showed that Gordon was determined to get the win.

Any look at the stats can easy show that Gordon didn’t need the win, he is locked into the chase. It was a statement win though.

Not only did Gordon show his teammates that he is still in the prime of his career with a dominant win it seemed like he sent a message to the other teams out there that Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports are a team that is going to have to be beat when the season comes to the chase.

Another team that showed a message this weekend was Ty Dillon in the Nationwide Series.

Unlike Gordon, Ty Dillon has not won a race in the Nationwide series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or any other track for that matter.

Like Gordon though, Dillon was celebrating an anniversary. Dillon made his first career top-5 in the Nationwide series at the brickyard when they raced there in 2012. Since then Dillon went on to win a three truck series races and a third place finish in the standings. Now, filling the position on his grandfather’s team, Dillon has been in the spotlight all season.

Now Dillon has finally been able to step into the spotlight, but as the stats will show that has not been as successful as everyone could have planned.

Many races this season especially in the NASCAR Nationwide Series have been a race of follow the leader, once they figure out who the winner will be. Saturday was no different.

For the last two weeks, the Nationwide series has seen series regulars take the checkered flag ahead of other drivers that may be expected to take the win. In fact, that has been the story of the season for most of the races. Of course there are the races that were dominated by non-regulars, but Dillon and others such as Chase Elliott have proven that even when racing with the top of the Sprint Cup Series.

Dillon’s come from behind victory on Saturday not only gave him the first win of the season as well as his 17th top-ten finish of his young Nationwide career, it also sprung him up in points. Just 15 points separate the top-four in the Nationwide Series race.

Although the “claims adjusters” the Sprint cup series regulars that race in the Nationwide series, will be factors in races that they compete in, it is also being seen that Nationwide regulars, especially the rookies are out on the track to prove something. As the season moves forward the championship battle is almost guaranteed to heat up as Dillon and the other rookies continue to chase after Chase Elliott.

While the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series were on their double date at the yard of bricks, the trucks of the Camping World Truck Series had their unique event at Eldora. Once again the series delivered on its promise to not only have a unique event, but it also delivered on an exciting race.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace drove his Kyle Busch Motorsports to victory in the feature event. Although Kyle Larson gave him a run for his money very early on, Wallace was able to drive on to dominate most of the rest of the race.

For KBM it is another win for them, showing just how strong they are in the series. Although this was a special event, the outcome has been the same story all year, that KBM has shown how dominate the team is.

As the truck season continues on not only will the point championship battle continues to heat up, which is now only separated by four points.

Next week the Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series will share a date at the tricky triangle of Pocono. While the Nationwide Series will travel to Iowa.

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