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Can Jeff Gordon win the Brickyard 400?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jeff Gordon has reached the pinnacle of success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with five Brickyard 400 wins. But this year’s race will post a unique challenge for the “rainbow warrior.” He has yet to get behind the wheel of a race car since last November, and the heat index is supposed to hit triple digits on race day.

“That’s the most important thing for me, is just making sure hydration wise that I can race in good shape,” Gordon said. “They’ve advanced a little bit since last year with how cooling is concerned. I actually have some air conditioning in the car I can use. Jimmie Johnson has offered me his cool vest, so they know that I’m old and not in the shape that I was.”

Talk about a whirlwind. When Rick Hendrick reached out to Jeff Gordon regarding filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr,, Gordon was with his wife on vacation in France. But the five-time Brickyard winner said he could not miss out on an opportunity to race again in Indy.

“Of any track that I can think of, heat or no heat, and come and do a good job for this team, it’s right here in Indianapolis,” Gordon said.

While Hendrick Motorsports has all of the confidence in the world in Gordon, drivers around NASCAR aren’t quite sold on another Jeff Gordon win at the Brickyard.

“He could surprise us all, he could win. But realistically I feel like top 10 for sure,” Kyle Busch said. “I feel like he could be pretty good enough to jump right in and be ready to finish top ten right away. I feel like top five is probably what’s expected maybe. But getting a win is high expectations.”

No matter the finish, one thing is for sure: Drivers and fans alike are happy to have Gordon back behind the wheel.

“All I can tell you is I’ve done everything I possibly can over the past three days to get ready for this race,” Gordon said.