Tuesday, July 26, 2011

EGR Preview: Chip Ganassi Goes For Sixth Win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

A Jamie McMurray repeat win could bring some happiness to 2011 (Getty)
Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Brickyard Preview
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Advance Notes
Race: Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 31
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Location: Speedway, Ind.


Follow EGR on Twitter: Continue to follow Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates on their official team Twitter page. Follow the No. 1 and No. 42 teams throughout the 2011 season @EGRTeams.

Sprint Summer Showdown: The Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D is putting $3 million on the line for fans, drivers and driver charities. Any driver that wins an NSCS race between Indianapolis and Bristol will qualify to win $2 million if he is able to win the race at Atlanta during Labor Day weekend ($1 million for the driver, $1 million for their charity). One lucky fan paired with the winning driver also has a chance to win $1 million. Visit www.sprint.com/speed for more information.

Kissing the Bricks: With a victory this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing would join Hendrick Motorsports as the only organizations to win back-to-back Brickyard 400’s (Jimmie Johnson 2008, 2009).

Twice as Nice: If either Jamie McMurray or Juan Pablo Montoya takes the checkered flag at Indy, they will become the first driver to win more than one race at IMS for team owner Chip Ganassi. Montoya won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 giving Ganassi his second of four Indy 500 victories, while McMurray won last year’s Brickyard 400.

McMurray has a 14.3 average finish in 8 Indy races
Jamie McMurray and No. 1 Bass Pro Shops®/ Tracker Boats Team

Indianapolis History: Sunday will mark McMurray’s ninth Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His best start and finish at the famed 2.5-mile oval came in 2010, when he won after starting from fourth-place. McMurray became the third driver to win the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 in the same season (Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett). In his eight prior events at Indy, McMurray has an average starting position of 15.2 and an average finishing position of 14.2. He has completed 1260 of 1281 laps (98.4%) and has led 38 laps. Including his win in 2010, McMurray has two top-five and four top-10 finishes at IMS.

Defending the Brickyard: McMurray returns to Indianapolis as the defending champion of the Brickyard 400. McMurray took the green for the 2010 Brickyard 400 in fourth-place and raced inside the top-six throughout the 160-lap event. After the decision to take two tires on the team’s final pit stop, McMurray was able to drive away from the field and take his first career victory at the Brickyard.

Two-Timing: With a victory, McMurray would join elite company in becoming only the fifth driver to win two or more Brickyard 400’s. He would join Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2008, 2009), Jeff Gordon (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004), Tony Stewart (2005, 2007), and Dale Jarrett (1996, 1999) in this exclusive club. Also, McMurray has the chance to be only the second driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s (Jimmie Johnson 2008, 2009).

With Ganassi at Indy: This weekend, McMurray will be making his fifth start at Indy for team owner Chip Ganassi. In his four previous starts at the Brickyard in Chip Ganassi owned race cars, he has notched one win (2010), both of his career top-fives (2003, 2010) and three out of his four career top-10s (2003, 2004, 2010). He has 38 laps led and has never finished off of the lead lap while driving for Ganassi at IMS.

Taking the Checkers: McMurray has been running at the finish in all eight of his career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has also finished on the lead lap in seven of those eight races.

Loudon Review: After qualifying 25th, the team made significant gains during Saturday’s practice sessions and felt that the car would be strong on Sunday. The first caution of the day waived on lap 30, but the No. 1 team decided to stay out and gain valuable track position. McMurray restarted as the race leader and stayed among the top-10 until he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 116. After the final stop of the day, Crew Chief “Bono” Manion told McMurray they were several laps short on fuel. The situation became more tenuous, when the team lost radio communication with 50 laps remaining. The fuel pressure eventually dropped as the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet ran out of fuel with three laps remaining and dropped from eighth to finish 31st.

In the Points: Jamie McMurray sits tied for 28th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after finishing 31st at New Hampshire.

Montoya was Brickyard runner-up in 2007 (Getty)
Juan Pablo Montoya and No. 42 Target Team

Ride Shotgun with Montoya: This weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 42 Target Chevrolet will be featured on DirecTV HotPass. To ride along with the Montoya and experience the race in heart-pounding HD, DirecTV customers can tune in to Channel 796, starting at 1pm EST on Sunday afternoon.

New Voice on the Radio: The No.42 Target team has made a crew chief change, naming Jim Pohlman interim crew chief heading into this weekend’s Brickyard 400. Pohlman has been with the organization since 2006 and has worked in various roles. “We are pleased to have someone of Jim’s caliber to be able to place into this role. Jim has been with us for a number of years and I have confidence in his abilities to move the team forward,” said team owner Chip Ganassi.

Brickyard 400 History: Montoya has made four career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400. In those starts he has one top-five, one top-10 and has led 202 laps (116 laps in 2009, 86 in 2010). Montoya’s best start came last season when he qualified on the pole, and his best finish of second at IMS was in his first NSCS start at the track in 2007. With three front-row starting spots in four races, his average starting position at the Brickyard is 4.5.

A Familiar Place: In 2007, Juan Pablo Montoya made history by becoming the first driver to compete in all three major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indianapolis 500, United States Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400). Montoya had six starts in the U.S. Grand Prix with a best start of third in 2001 and a top finish of fourth in 2002. He scored a victory in 2000 in his one, and only start for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Indianapolis 500, and has a best finish of second (2007) in four Brickyard 400 starts.

Doubling Up at Indy: If Montoya wins Sunday’s Brickyard 400, he will become the first driver in history to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. Also, when he takes the green flag at IMS this weekend, he will have competed at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 12th consecutive year, racing in three different series.

Top of the Charts: Since his rookie season in 2007, Montoya has been a factor at Indianapolis Motor Speedway every time the NSCS has raced there. In only four races at the famed track, he has moved to the top of multiple statistical categories including “Fastest Driver Early in a Run”, “Number of Fastest Laps Run”, “Fastest Car on Restarts” and “Number of Laps Led”. He is also second in “Driver Rating” (Tony Stewart 109.3) with a score of 106.4 and fourth in “Average Running Position” with an average place of 11.53.

Loudon Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya was looking to continue a streak of strong performances at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and gain some valuable points toward reaching the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The team appeared to be on the right track as Montoya was second fastest in final practice and followed that up with an eighth-place qualifying effort. The crew spent most of the race playing on pit strategy, expecting the finish to come down to fuel mileage. The Target Chevrolet pitted a total of seven times for fuel, tires and adjustments. The team ran as high as third and as low as 30th throughout the race. While running 13th with two laps remaining, the Target Chevrolet ran short on fuel and coasted back to the finish line for a 30th-place finish.

In the Points: Following Juan Pablo Montoya’s 30th-place finish, the No. 42 team dropped four positions to 17th in points. Montoya now sits 59 points out of 10th, the cut-off for Chase contention.

New cars for both teams; each tested at Indy in June (Getty)

No. 1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1112. Jamie McMurray will pilot chassis #1112 for the first time in a race this season when the NSCS heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This only other track time that this car has seen was back in June for the Goodyear tire test at Kansas Speedway.

No. 42 Target Chevrolet (NSCS): Chassis #1107. Juan Pablo Montoya will race chassis #1107 for the first time this season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This chassis was tested earlier this season at the Goodyear tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

- Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Press Release

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