Brickyard Report: Strategy Helps Rudd to Brickyard 400 Win
2 August 1997
For Immediate Release INDIANAPOLIS, August 2, 1997 -- Ricky Rudd gambled by staying out when other leaders made late "splash-and-go" fuel stops and held back Bobby Labonte to capture the fourth running of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rudd had led for only a lap earlier in the race when leaders Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon came to pit road for five-second fuel stops. He then survived a restart with three laps to go to take the victory as Jarrett and Gordon charged frantically back to take third and fourth place, respectively. For the win, Rudd got $571,000 in posted awards. Labonte got $242,275 for second, Jarrett collected $223,900 for third and Gordon got $223,675 for fourth. Rudd s margin of victory over Labonte was .183 of a second, a Brickyard 400 record. The previous mark was .37 of a second in 1995, when Dale Earnhardt beat Rusty Wallace to the line. "Unbelievable," Rudd said. "It's hard to put it in words. I've won 17 or 18 Winston Cup races but this race here, it's incredible. As a kid, I ran go-karts just down the road. I dreamed of racing here but I thought it'd been in an Indy car. I never dreamed I'd be in a stock car. Then, you're doing a victory lap in a convertible around this place. It's incredible." There were 19 lead changes among 11 drivers, led by pole winner Ernie Irvan, who led a Brickyard 400 record 39 laps at the opening of the race. Gordon continues to lead the Winston Cup standings with 2,834 points, followed by Mark Martin with 2,755, Jarrett with 2,687 and Terry Labonte, who bowed out Saturday in 40th place after engine problems, with 2,603. Five drivers led the Brickyard 400 for the first time -- Jeff Burton, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Mike Skinner, Jimmy Spencer and Ricky Craven, the latter coming from 41st starting position to take the point. Twenty-three cars finished on the lead lap, breaking the event record of 21 set in 1996. Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader continued their streaks of completing every lap of all four Brickyard 400s to date. Elliott finished eighth and Schrader wound up 11th. Gordon is now the only driver to lead all four Brickyard 400s, Elliott and Dale Earnhardt failing to lead for the first time. Although four accidents occurred during the race, only Rich Bickle was transported to Methodist Hospital. Bickle was awake and alert and complaining of back pain. Rudd averaged 130.828 over the 400-mile distance. Irvan had the race s fastest leading lap at 172.506 on Lap 22. ..BY97-14..