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Harvick grabs yet another pole with big run at IMS

Published July 27, 2014 2:36 pm

NASCAR • He chases his fifth win at Indy, 20 years after his first.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Indianapolis • The reminders that Jeff Gordon won here 20 years ago plaster Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There's a massive banner that drapes the grandstand containing Gordon's image with the years of his four Brickyard 400 victories listed. Stroll past the merchandise tent and there's a blast from 1994: Gordon, dressed in his red, yellow and green "Rainbow Warrior" firesuit for a 20th anniversary T-shirt photo, arms raised high in celebration.

Gordon will be feted with his own day Sunday in Indianapolis and he was presented with the No. 24 from the recently removed track scoring pylon.

It's been a throwback weekend that celebrates the days when Gordon was the next big thing in NASCAR. And he's been honored by track officials for a career that has long marked him one of NASCAR's greats.

Gordon even got caught up in the nostalgia at his charity bowling event this week. He found an article about him from when he was a teenager in an old racing magazine where the young prospect mapped out his future goals.

"I had no chance at all at that moment in my mind of ever racing here," Gordon said, "and yet, four years later I was winning the inaugural Brickyard 400."

Twenty years later, he's just as big a threat to win in Indy. For all the fun Gordon has had reflecting on 20 years of racing at the Brickyard, it's what's ahead Sunday that really has him pumped.

He enters Sunday's race with the points lead, one win this season, and a firm belief the No. 24 is a contender for that elusive fifth Indy win. He qualified second on Saturday, behind pole-sitter Kevin Harvick

"I feel like this is the best chance that we've had at winning this race legitimately with the speed of the car as we've had in a very, very long time," he said.

He's off to a strong start after qualifying second Saturday behind Kevin Harvick.

Gordon felt at home at the Brickyard from the first time stock cars stormed into the open-wheel city and put a new spin on the famed track. He won two days after his 23rd birthday, only his second victory, but it remains one of the biggest in a career of 89 wins and four championships.

Gordon also won the Brickyard in 1998, 2001 and 2004. Jimmie Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, tied his mark with wins in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Nationwide Series

Ty Dillon pulled away from Kyle Busch down the stretch Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to win for the first time in the Nationwide Series.

Dillon passed Busch off the final restart with 25 laps and held on for his first victory in 31 career starts in NASCAR's second-tier series. —

Brickyard 400

O Sunday, 11 a.m.

TV • ESPN —

Harvick wins pole

Kevin Harvick once again dominated a NASCAR qualifying session, setting a new Indianapolis Motor Speedway track record to win the pole for the Brickyard 400. Harvick turned a lap at 188.470 mph on Saturday to claim his Sprint Cup Series-best fourth pole of the season. Harvick beat the track record of 187.531 set last year by Ryan Newman, who won from the pole.

Landing right behind Harvick was Sprint Cup Series points leader Jeff Gordon, who will start second on Sunday when he races for his fifth Brickyard victory. Brad Keselowski qualified third.