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number of empty seats you see Sunday.?The Brickyard is still the third-largest sp

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INDIANAPOLIS -- If its late July and the heat index in Indianapolis just cracked 110, it must be Brickyard 400 week. china jerseys wholesale .?The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series arrives in town at the peak of a humid Midwest heatwave, making Sundays 160-lap race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway an endurance contest for drivers, crews and fans.?Making his last scheduled Cup Series start at his home track, Tony Stewart was expected to be the center of attention. But Jeff Gordon -- who made his last scheduled Brickyard start a year ago -- is making an unexpected encore appearance and has borrowed the spotlight.?Gordons participation in a substitute role for the concussion-affected Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has brought Earnhardts prospects of qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup into question. So other than the opportunity to win what NASCAR still promotes as one of its most important races, there are long-term implications to the championship scenario on the line for several drivers in the hunt for a Chase berth.?Here are five things to watch for Sunday:? ??1. The HoosiersTony Stewart may be Indianas favorite racing driver, but Jeff Gordon -- a California native who lived just outside Indianapolis in Pittsboro in the late 1980s and early 90s while he forged the USAC career that led him into stock cars -- runs a close second.?Sentimental ties certainly didnt factor into Gordons decision to return for at least two races to sit in for Earnhardt. But the fact that Indianapolis is a track Gordon excels on surely did. He won the inaugural Brickyard 400 back in 1994 and is the only other driver to have competed every year since, adding four more victories to hold the record with five.?After not driving competitively for eight months, Gordon is bound to be a bit rusty, and even though hes back within the friendly confines of Hendrick Motorsports, he is working with a new group of people in the No. 88 team, Chase Elliott having taken over the No. 24 Chevrolet.?Still, with his track record at the Brickyard, Gordon should be in the mix.He knows what hes driving and he knows the people he is driving for, so I dont see any reason why he is not one of the guys to beat, said Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman, the third Hoosier in the Brickyard field.?I mean, he has always been that guy here and has more wins than anybody.?Meanwhile, Stewart has suddenly become one of the hottest drivers in the Cup Series, backing up his surprise win at Sonoma with a fifth-place finish at Kentucky and second place at New Hampshire. The media-averse Stewart is no doubt pleased that Gordon has stolen away most of the cameras and microphones this weekend.?You guys are going to make a lot more out of this than what Im going to make out of it this weekend, Stewart said Friday. I am literally just coming here in my mind like it is just another race, and its another weekend here at Indy. Im not doing all the sentimental crying stuff that you guys think Im going to be doing. Im going to race this weekend.? ?Im probably more prepared for a Brickyard than I have been any other year.? ? ?2. The Weather?Its going to be hot, with temperatures in the low 90s and a heat index above 110. With such a humid and uncomfortable forecast on tap, IMS is taking steps to make sure fans beat the heat on Brickyard weekend, with misters, water trucks and plenty of free drinking water.The infield care center will be available to anyone suffering from the effects of heat or dehydration.?Its going to be so unpleasant that for the first time in its 107-year history, IMS is allowing and even encouraging its legion of Yellow Shirt marshals to wear shorts on the job.?IMS President Doug Boles speaks from experience, having needed to seek treatment for dehydration during the 2013 Brickyard weekend.?I got two bags of fluid at the infield care center on Xfinity day because I didnt take care of myself, Boles said. nfl jerseys china. . I didnt heed the warnings that we gave our other folks, and it wasnt nearly as hot as its going to be this weekend.?So were encouraging all of our fans to take the proper precautions.? ?3. The RacingLets be honest, the Brickyard 400 has very rarely been an entertaining car race during the past 22 years. The 1996 running, which featured an intense battle between Robert Yates Racing teammates Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan?in the last 20 laps, which resolved in Jarretts favor, was arguably the only classic.?Last year NASCAR tried running a huge rear spoiler on the cars at Indianapolis to try to improve the show, but the experiment failed. This year, the cars are in a considerably different configuration, sporting the 3-1/2-inch spoiler that has been standard at most tracks this year.With lower downforce requiring greater driver skill, the racing has generally been better at most venues this year, but theres no guarantee that will translate to the unique low-banked Indianapolis rectangle.?Im glad that we are here with this package and not the package we had last year, said six-time Cup Series champion (and four-time Brickyard winner) Jimmie Johnson. It was very difficult to complete passes and kind of get around the race track. It was a much different experience last year.I was a part of the test last week [for Goodyear at Indianapolis] and it was nice to have the cars drive like they did from the 14 season.??4. The ChaseWithout a win this season, Earnhardt was already in a precarious position with regard to the Chase, and missing at least three races is probably going to put him in a come-from-behind position. Hes currently on the bubble for the 16-driver NASCAR playoffs, but four drivers could conceivably move past him Sunday with a good finish in the Brickyard.?Among the winless drivers currently battling for the five Chase berths for those getting in on points, Earnhardt is 14 points ahead of Trevor Bayne, +16 on Ryan Blaney, +22 on Kasey Kahne and +25 on Kyle Larson. With Dale Jr. slated to miss next weekends race at Pocono as he continues with his concussion protocol, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+41) and AJ Allmendinger (+43) could make serious gains in the next eight days.?Its a really tight race between a handful of us right now, and its all up for grabs, Blaney said.?Drivers without a win ahead of Earnhardt on the Chase grid include Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, Newman and Chase Elliott.? ?5. The CrowdCompared to other NASCAR races, the Brickyard 400 draws a decent crowd. But 70,000 people doesnt fill very much of a stadium that holds in excess of 230,000, leaving vast expanses of bare aluminum on unoccupied grandstands that are not covered by advertising tarps.?With plenty of TV money in the bank, the Brickyard is still a moneymaker for IMS. But its also an image problem, for both the Speedway and NASCAR. In many ways, the Brickyards decline from a 250,000-plus sellout to its current diminished attendance foreshadowed a trend that is happening at many stock car racing venues.? ?The crowds are less intense than the Indy 500, IMS president Boles said. Since 2008, our numbers were smaller every year until last year, when we had a turnaround.?The Speedway pinned hopes on Stewarts final appearance drawing out Hoosier race fans, and the track got an unexpected bonus with Gordons return. Still, expect to be shocked by the number of empty seats you see Sunday.?The Brickyard is still the third-largest sporting event in the state of Indiana, Boles said. Is there any way you can say its not a success? Absolutely not. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '