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5 drivers to watch

By JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 5, 2001


JEFF GORDON

CAR: No. 24 Chevrolet.

STARTING: 27th.

BEST BRICKYARD 400 FINISH: First, 1994 and '98.

THE SKINNY: Gordon, who grew up in Indiana, has finished sixth or better in the seven Brickyard 400 races. He also has three poles. Apparently, he likes it here.

* * *

DALE JARRETT

CAR: No. 88 Ford.

STARTING: Sixth.

BEST BRICKYARD 400 FINISH: First, 1995 and '99.

THE SKINNY: For some reason, Jarrett surrendered the car he won with in 1999 to Robert Yates Racing teammate Ricky Rudd, but chances are he will find his way to the front. He needs to finish well after falling behind in the points race last week.

* * *

RICKY RUDD

CAR: No. 28 Ford.

STARTING: Fourth.

BEST BRICKYARD 400 FINISH: First, 1997.

THE SKINNY: An owner-driver in 1997, Rudd "stole" one from the multicar teams when he won with fuel mileage. This time, he has Robert Yates Racing's trademark horsepower at his disposal.

* * *

TONY STEWART

CAR: No. 20 Pontiac.

STARTING: Ninth.

BEST BRICKYARD 400 FINISH: Fifth, 2000.

THE SKINNY: Stewart, an Indiana native who grew up dreaming of winning the Indianapolis 500, is under tremendous pressure to perform well. He was cranky after his top-10 qualifying run, believing he should have been on the pole. With Stewart, cranky means focused.

* * *

BILL ELLIOTT

CAR: No. 9 Dodge.

STARTING: Second.

BEST BRICKYARD FINISH: Third, 1994 and 2000.

THE SKINNY: Elliott, who has been much improved the past month, has five top-10 finishes at Indianapolis. Dodge received aerodynamic help from a NASCAR rule change that went into effect last week. Can you imagine the outcry if Dodge won for the first time this season? -- Compiled by Joanne Korth.

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