Jeff Gordon leaves Indy with bad finish, great memories

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Monday, Jul 27 1297
A Lap 50 crash, after Clint Bowyer spun in front of him, knocked Jeff Gordon for a loop in Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard, his last race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.

After colliding with the Turn 3 wall, Gordon spent nearly half the race in the garage as his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team repaired his Chevrolet. Gordon returned to the track but was credited with a 42nd-place finish, a far cry from the record fifth Brickyard victory he posted last year.

“It’s disappointing,” Gordon said afterwards. “You’re out there pushing hard to get the best finish that you can, (but) I can’t say that I’m too disappointed overall. I’ve had an amazing career at Indy. The fans have been spectacular. I’ve had a few not go well here, but I’ve certainly had plenty that have gone well.

“Today was not the way we would have liked it to end, but that’s the reality, and we just deal with it and move on. My memories are always going to be spectacular. I’m very upbeat about Indianapolis. Some of the greatest memories of my life are here at Indianapolis, starting with that inaugural Brickyard 400 (Gordon’s first victory at the 2.5-mile track).”

Gordon’s Brickyard week started with a visit to Pittsboro, Indiana, where he grew up after moving east from his native Vallejo, California.

“The whole week and weekend has been incredible,” Gordon said. “The parade the Speedway put on, and Pittsboro, Indiana, put on – that’s a highlight for me that I’ll never forget, and to follow up with the support I got when I got here to the track and today…

“It was amazing, and I know that makes it even that much more difficult to handle when you have a poor finish like that, but I can’t thank the fans enough for the last 22 years.”

Gordon is the last active driver who has competed in every Sprint Cup race at the Brickyard, dating to the first race in 1994.