Stewart Fulfills Dream By Winning Allstate 400 At The Brickyard
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Indiana native Tony Stewart finally lived the dream he has coveted since childhood: winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by taking the checkered flag at the 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Aug. 7.
Stewart, who grew up in nearby Columbus, Ind. - less than an hour from the legendary 2.5-mile IMS oval, led 44 hard-fought laps of the 160-lap race, which was highlighted by a nail-biting duel between Stewart and Kasey Kahne toward the end of the race.
The result left Stewart overcome with emotion and exhaustion, but he celebrated by taking a slow lap the wrong way around the oval, punctuated by two climbs up the IMS catch fence: in front of his Turn 2 suite filled with family and friends, and at the Speedway's famous Yard of Bricks.
"I'm dying right now," Stewart said with a laugh, after climbing off the main straightaway fence and lying down on the outside retaining wall. "I'm too tired to chase fences right now. Give me five minutes, and I'll be ready.
"I wish I could put it in words," Stewart said, on what it meant to fulfill his dream. "Today has been my entire life. This is one of those days I don't want to end; I don't want to see the sun set. This is definitely the greatest day of my life, professionally, personally. I couldn't ask for more. Part of it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm sure when I'm over there with my family and friends, it will hit me."
Stewart's win in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet makes him the first Indiana-born driver to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the first Indiana-born driver to win at the Speedway since Shelbyville, Ind., native Wilbur Shaw won the 1940 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
The emotion of the day also overcame Stewart's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, immediately following the checkered flag.
"I thank the good Lord, man, I've never prayed that much in my life," said Zipadelli, his voice cracking. "Just to see the expression on his face when I get over there will be worth everything."
Stewart recently moved from North Carolina, headquarters for his Joe Gibbs Racing team, back to his childhood home in Columbus .
Kahne finished second in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, Brian Vickers was third in the No. 25 Garnier Fructis Chevrolet, Jeremy Mayfield was fourth in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, and Matt Kenseth finished fifth in the No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford.
The race saw 10 cautions for 43 laps, slowing the average speed to 118.782 mph, the second-slowest Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in history. The 2004 race was slowed by 13 cautions for 47 laps, with an average speed of 115.037.
Pole winner Elliott Sadler looked strong at the beginning of the race, pulling out to a 1.340 second lead by the end of Lap 2. He led the first 22 laps in the No. 38 M&M's Ford, lost the lead for a lap to pit and then led another 15 laps before surrendering the lead to Vickers. Sadler remained in the top 10 for most of the race until he had a tire go flat on Lap 150, forcing a pit stop. He lost a lap and finished 32nd.
Stewart took the lead for the first time on Lap 100 - amid thunderous applause from the throng of Allstate 400 at the Brickyard spectators - and stayed in control of the race until Lap 134, when Kahne moved past him in Turn 4. But Stewart kept the pressure on Kahne, and as the two drivers dueled, they pulled away from the rest of the field.
Fuel mileage became a concern as the leaders approached Lap 150, since most of the field last pitted on Lap 118 during a caution period.
Jimmie Johnson, who entered the race as the NEXTEL Cup points leader, gave the leaders the break they were looking for on Lap 146, when a tire problem caused him to hit the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4.
The green flag flew on Lap 150, and Stewart got a good run on Kahne through Turn 1 and took the lead at the exit of Turn 2.
"You can imagine my surprise when we take the green and go into (Turn 1), and he (Kahne) gets tight and can't close the door," Stewart said. "Knowing Kasey as well as I do, and the respect we have for each other, that's the guy I wanted to race with for the win.
"When I sailed off into (Turn 2), I had the attitude that I was going to win it or wear it. I knew I was going to do something stupid, I knew Kasey wouldn't. He knows what this race means to me."
Stewart weaved back and forth down the straightaways after taking the lead to break Kahne's draft. The maneuvering was successful as Stewart gradually pulled away, winning by a margin of .794 of a second.
Johnson's accident marked the end of a disastrous day for him, which started with a spin without contact exiting Turn 2 on Lap 75 followed by an unscheduled pit stop after his Hendrick Motorsports crew left the catch can in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Following the Lap 146 accident, Johnson brought the car back to pit lane with a fire beneath the hood. Johnson made a hasty exit from the car but was briefly overcome by smoke. After the race, Johnson was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation and released.
Four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had mixed results in their attempts to qualify for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.
Earnhardt started 27th and immediately struggled with handling on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. But his crew hardly had an opportunity to work on the car, as Earnhardt was bumped from behind by Mike Skinner on a restart on Lap 61. Earnhardt hit the inside retaining wall head-on on the main straightaway, then rebounded and hit three other cars, including teammate Martin Truex Jr., who was eliminated. Earnhardt finished 43rd and Truex 42nd.
Gordon started seventh in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet but ran outside the top 10 for much of the race. He strategically pitted on Lap 124, however, while the leaders stayed out.
After pitting, Gordon was at the back of lead-lap cars, and was 23rd on Lap 130. He rapidly moved through the field and finished eighth, gaining a spot in the NEXTEL Cup points.
2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard tickets: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway ticket office will accept ticket renewals and new ticket orders beginning Monday, Aug. 8. Tickets can be purchased online ator by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
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