The idea originally was one that many questioned, or wondered if it would work. Would a test session lead to something bigger than life? Would a place known for open-wheel accept car-bodied racers? Would a track that for nearly 80 years at the time start a new tradition?
One test session and it was clear what was going to happen: "Door to door in '94 at Indianapolis."
It was July 27, 1994, when NASCAR began a new tradition, and it was clear that it was meant to be. Two years later, another tradition was added, and it has since become one that every race at the speedway includes. Who'd of thought that an impulsive move would end up being one of the biggest moments any driver could have in their career. It has been 20 years since the first green flag waved at Indianapolis, and that historic moment comes full circle this weekend.
The rectangular track has seen monumental victories, unexpected winners, and has also seen a debacle that Goodyear and NASCAR still remember. It's a place that is as hallowed as the Pearly Gates, and has always been a track that the moment everyone enters, history runs wild.
Every writer in this year's victory pool know the history of this race, and they each want to add their own come Sunday. Take a look at who they chose for victory in the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard:
Misan Akuya: Tony Stewart
I'm sticking with Smoke. Tony Stewart just won his first Sprint car race since his accident. Stewart loves his home track of Indy and is always up front here. Would be the perfect situation.
Rob Blount: Jimmie Johnson
No reason needed. You see this guy’s record at Indy?
James Broomhead: Jimmie Johnson
Billy Fellin: Jimmie Johnson
Four wins at the brickyard? Deal.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Kara Martin: Jimmie Johnson
Ryan O'Hara: Jeff Gordon
Dustin Parks: Tony Stewart
Even though Sunday is 20 years to the day of Gordon's win here to kick off Indy's history of NASCAR competition, I have to go with the other Indiana boy. Let's face it, Smoke is now on a roll. Won a sprint car race for the first time since his broken leg, and on Wednesday he played host at his track to yet another successful and outstanding Mud Summer Classic. He needs a win, badly.
There is nothing better than home cooking to get it done.
Patti Rodisch: Jeff Gordon
It is not really a stretch but I have been mulling on this pick for a week now. I think Brad Keselowski will be tough to beat as well Dale Earnhardt, Jr. considering their stellar runs at Pocono. Even though the two tracks are often compared there are some slight differences.
For Gordon, IMS is essentially his home track and his success there puts him as a favorite. Sunday's race marks 20 years since his historic win but looking at 2014 Gordon isn't slowing down anytime soon. Gordon will pick up win number five at the Brickyard. As well as clinch his spot in the Chase with his second win of 2014.
Aaron Rosser: Brad Keselowski
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
Rob Tiongson: Jeff Gordon
It's a homecoming trip for the 42-year-old originally from Vallejo, CA, as Jeff Gordon spent his adolescence in Pittsboro, IN. It's the 20th anniversary of his sterling first Brickyard 400 win and with three other victories to boot, you almost think it's time for him to add another trophy and a ring so that at least one hand's got the makings of Brickyard champion all over.
Look for the No. 24 team to be kissing those bricks like it's their first love all over again!
Standings after New Hampshire:
Kara Martin (691) Jeff Gordon finished 26th - 3
Sal Sigala Jr. (661) Kevin Harvick finished 30th - 5
Ryan O'Hara (661) Kyle Busch finished 2nd - 4
Patti Rodisch (648) Clint Bowyer finished 6th - 2
Rob Tiongson (628) Kevin Havick finished 30th - 2
Billy Fellin (608) Ryan Newman finished 5th - 1
Dustin Parks (605) Clint Bowyer finished 6th - 2
Michael Hirshbein (585) Kyle Busch finished 2nd - 1
Aaron Rosser (568) Ryan Newman finished 5th - 1
Misan Akuya (565) Tony Stewart finished 7th - 1
Rob Blount (562) Kevin Harvick finished 30th - 1
James Broomhead (505) Denny Hamlin finished 8th - 2
Final Remarks: Every motorsport has their own hallowed ground, where not many other kinds of racing happen. NASCAR has Daytona, Formula 1 has Monaco, off-road racing has Crandon, Wisconsin. Indy Car has Indianapolis, but for the last 20 years it has been a track that has welcomed stock car racing, giving them a chance to attack the corners like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr, and Dario Franchitti.
Yet another chapter will be written on Sunday once the green flag is in the air.
It is also the beginning of the end for one television provider. Sunday's race begins the final year for ESPN providing live coverage of NASCAR. It kicks off at Noon ET with "NASCAR Countdown" as a preview. Then, an hour later, Alan Bestwick, Andy Petree, and Dale Jarrett bring you commentary.
Summary of Picks: