Saturday, July 30, 2011

Final Brickyard 400 Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts' Top 10 Driver Ratings
All-State 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, July 31, 2011 - 10:19 am (PDT)

Rating   Driver   Odds         Practice 1  Practice 2  Practice 3  Qualified

1. Jimmie Johnson 6/1          32nd          3rd          10th          3rd
Three-time winner, his only top-10 Indy finishes in last eight starts; new chassis this week.

2. Greg Biffle 15/1                20th           1st            1st          18th
Finished fourth and third in last two Indy starts; 13.9 average finish in eight starts.

3. Matt Kenseth 10/1            1st           29th           8th           9th
Two-time runner-up; using winning Texas chassis that finished second at Michigan as well.

4. Carl Edwards 6/1               4th            6th            5th          10th
Runner-up in 2008, his only top-five in six starts; using fifth-place Kansas chassis.

5. Jeff Gordon 10/1               9th           26th          26th           8th
Four-time winner with an average finish of 9.5 in 17 starts; last win came in 2004.

6. Kevin Harvick 10/1         30th            5th           11th         19th
2003 winner with an average finish of 9.9, runner-up last year. Using Darlington car this week.

7. Denny Hamlin 12/1          2nd           18th          28th          14th
Best finsh of third in 2008; third best 10-consecutive lap average in final practice.

8. Juan Pablo Montoya 10/1 7th          31st            6th            7th
2007 runner-up finisher with an average running position of 11.53; 2000 Indy 500 winner.

9. Kasey Kahne 30/1           2nd           13th           2nd            2nd
Runner-up in 2005 with an average finish position of 15.6 in seven starts; great practices.

10. Clint Bowyer 30/1         15th           17th          13th           26th
Best finish of fourth in 2010 tied career his best set in 2006; debuts new chassis this week.

Note: Results from the June 12, 2011 race at Pocono Raceway can serve as a great barometer for handicapping Indy. The long straightaways and flat turns of Pocono make it the most similar track to Indianapolis. Drivers that did well then should do well Sunday.

Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former race and sports director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights and post-practice analysis on the race, go to or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.

Brickyard Starting Lineup

Biffle Fastest, Again, In Final Brickyard Practice

Greg Biffle, with a lap speed of 182.567 mph, was fastest in the final Brickyard 400 practice session. It was the second practice session in a row that Biffle had the fastest lap.

Kasey Kahne was second fastest with a lap speed of 182.441 mph, and was followed by Kurt Busch (181.829), David Ragan (181.800) and Carl Edwards (181.514).

Rounding out the top-ten fastest in “Happy Hour” were Juan Pablo Montoya (181.368), A.J. Allmendinger (181.346), Matt Kenseth (181.258), Brian Vickers (181.251) and Jimmie Johnson (181.229).

Final Practice Speeds

Friday, July 29, 2011

Biffle Fastest in Second Brickyard Practice Session

Greg Biffle topped the second practice session Friday
Greg Biffle, with a lap speed of 178.310 mph, was the fastest during Friday's second Brickyard 400 practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most of the teams used the session in race trim and these speeds may be the best indicator of what may happen on race day. Biffle also had very good average times as well.

Biffle is the second Roush-Fenway driver to lead a Brickyard practice session. Matt Kenseth led the first session in what was primarily done in qualifying trim. Kenseth finshed 29th best in the later session.

Jack Roush has gone 17 Brickyard 400's without a win by any of his drivers on the track, but looks to have a grip on what it's going to take this week. The Las Vegas co-favorite to win the race was Carl Edwards (6/1) who finished sixth fastest with the best overall average speeds among drivers who ran at least 15 laps. David Ragan was 21st  fastest.

Martin Truex Jr. was second fastest with a lap speed of 178.172 mph, and was followed by Jimmie Johnson (177.669), Casey Mears (177.288) and Kevin Harvick (177.249).

Rounding out the top-ten fastest in practice were Edwards (177.228), Joey Logano (177.019), David Reutimann (176.984), Jeff Burton (176.904) and Brian Vickers (176.817).

Four-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon had the best 10 consecutive lap average in the practice, followed by Paul menard and Clint Bowyer.

The teams will return to the track on Saturday morning for their “Happy Hour” practice session that is scheduled to run from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (EDT) with qualifying scheduled at 2:10 PM (EDT) that afternoon.

Practice 2 Speeds

Kenseth Fastest in First Brickyard 400 Practice

Kenseth could be in store for the pole
Matt Kenseth, with a lap speed of 181.203 mph, was the quickest during the first Brickyard 400 practice session. Most of the drivers were in qualifying-trim for the session and will use the second session today with their race set-ups.

Kenseth performing well shouldn't be too much of a surprise, not only because of two runner-up finishes on the fabled track, but also because of the chassis he brought this week. He's using his winning Texas car that also finished runner-up at Michigan and sixth at Kentucky.

Needless to say, Kenseth looks to be dialed in for the race and a top contender to win and give Jack Roush his first Brickyard win.

Second fastest in practice with a lap speed of 181.178 mph, was Kasey Kahne, followed by Denny Hamlin (181.050), Carl Edwards (180.658) and David Ragan (180.404).

Kurt Busch, with a lap speed of 180.270 mph, was sixth fastest on the speed chart, while Juan Pablo Montoya (180.144), Jamie McMurray (179.634), Jeff Gordon (179.519) and Jeff Burton (179.412) rounded out the top-10.

The teams will have one more practice session today from 3:15 PM – 4:30 PM (EDT) before returning Saturday morning for their “Happy Hour” session (10:00 AM – 11:30 AM -EDT) before qualifying at 2:10 PM (EDT) later that afternoon.

Practice Speeds

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Driver Chassis Selections for the All-State 400 at the Brickyard

Note: Not all teams list their chassis selections in their press releases

Three-time Indy winner Jimmie Johnson is bringing new car this week (Getty)
1. Carl Edwards: Coming off third top 10 in six starts; Finished second in 2008 for only top five; Five laps led; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 768) that he finished fifth with at Kansas Speedway.

2. Jimmie Johnson: Has won three of the last five races, including back-to-back in 2008 and 2009; Has combined to lead 96 laps in last three races; Fourth-best driver rating in past six races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 681) in the Brickyard 400.

3. Kurt Busch: Coming off first top 10 (10th) in five starts with Penske Racing; Posted three top 10s in previous five starts with Roush Racing; Has yet to lead a lap in last seven starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 757) in the Brickyard 400.

4. Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2003 event; Finished second last season for seventh top 10 in 10 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (9.9); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 304) that he last finished 17th with at Darlington Raceway after late-race contact.

5. Kyle Busch: Coming off fourth top 10 in six starts; 20.3 average finish in three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Has yet to start in the top 10; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 315) in the Brickyard 400.

Matt Kenseth is using winning Texas chassis this week
6. Matt Kenseth: Last of six top 10s came in 2009 in 10th; Finished second in 2003 and 2006; 15.1 average finish and 28 laps led in 11 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 741) that he finished sixth with at Kentucky Speedway.

7. Jeff Gordon: Leads all drivers in wins (four), top fives (nine), top 10s (13), laps led (440) and poles (three); Second among all drivers in average finish (9.5); 23rd-place finish last season snapped streak of three consecutive top 10s.

8. Ryan Newman: Leads all drivers with more than five starts in starting average (6.1); 15.5 average finish in two starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; 21.0 average finish in 10 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 677) in the Brickyard 400.

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr: 25.0 average finish in three starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Posted two top 10s in previous eight starts with Dale Earnhardt, Inc; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 617) that he finished seventh with in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

10. Denny Hamlin: 16.8 average finish in five starts; Best finish came in 2008 when he led 26 laps en route to a third-place finish.

11. Tony Stewart: Two-time winner; Coming off eighth top 10 in 12 starts; Leads all drivers with a 8.2 average finish; Second among all drivers in laps led with 217; Best driver rating in past six races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 671) in the Brickyard 400.

12. Clint Bowyer: Finished fourth for the second time last season; 11.6 average finish in five starts; Has yet to lead a lap; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 368) in the Brickyard 400.

13. David Ragan: Has yet to post a top 10 and lead a lap in four starts; Best finish came in 2008; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 777) in the Brickyard 400.

14. Kasey Kahne: Has finished seventh or better in four of his seven starts; Best finish came in 2005 in second; 15.6 average finish; Will make first track start with Team Red Bull.

15. Greg Biffle: Only driver to finish in the top 10 in the last three races; 13.9 average finish in eight starts; Fifth-best driver rating in past six races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 749) that he finished 13th with in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allmendinger will be using his fifth-place Charlotte car
16. AJ Allmendinger: 18.0 average finish in two starts with Richard Petty Motorsports; Finished 10th in 2008 with Team Red Bull; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 752) that he last finished fifth with in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

17. Juan Pablo Montoya: Dominated the last two races, but a pit road speeding penalty in 2009 and a crash last season took him out of contention; Third among all drivers in laps led with 202; Second-best driver rating in past six races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1107) that he participated in the Indy Goodyear tire test with.

18. Joey Logano: Coming off first top 10 in two starts in ninth; 10.5 average finish; Has yet to lead a lap; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 316) in the Brickyard 400.

19. Paul Menard: 26.0 average finish in four starts; Coming off best finish in 14 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 364) in the Brickyard 400.

20. Mark Martin: 6.5 average finish in two starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Won the pole and finished second in 2009; 10 top 10s in 17 starts; Third-best driver rating in past six races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 679) in the Brickyard 400.

- compiled by Jeff Wackerlin,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brickyard Preview: Gordon and NASCAR Grew Simultaneously Through Indy

By Micah Roberts

Gordon and NASCAR grew at same time
Six seasons have passed since Jeff Gordon last won at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the longest drought of his career there. Winning in Indiana always came natural for the California kid who’s father-in-law moved the family to Indiana to get into more competitive races for the up and coming driver. At the time, Gordon had aspirations of competing in the Indy 500, but it’s safe to say that despite not ever competing in an Indy car race, things worked out for the best and Indiana was the major reason why.

After giving the stock thing a try, his tenacity and willingness to wheel the car at the highest possible speeds around corners caught the eye of Rick Hendrick who signed him to run full-time in the Cup series in 1993. In Gordon’s second season he won the Coca-Cola 600, one of the biggest races in the season. Two months later he would go on to win the inaugural Brickyard 400, a race that every veteran on the circuit wanted to win more than any other because of the prestige of the track.

When Dale Earnhardt won the following year, he was still burning from not winning the inaugural race -- losing to a kid -- prompting him in the post-race interview to say that he was the “first MAN“ to win the Brickyard 400. Gordon’s win thrust him into mainstream NASCAR and from there, not only did he take off as one of the best ever in the sport, but NASCAR began to take off from being a perceived ’southern thing’.

Madison avenue found the combination of Gordon’s boyish good looks and success on the track against drivers that many around the country thought were red-necks, too good to pass up on. Gordon soon found himself being publicized in national advertising to a degree that no other NASCAR driver -- not even Richard Petty -- had come close to before. And with that came a lot of resentment from some of the other drivers -- especially from Earnhardt -- and helped pave the way to a new prosperous era.

Gordon would have continued to win the way he did even if he hadn’t won the first Brickyard 400, but the win was monumental because it brought new fans to the sport nationally and Gordon was the face that did it. The Indy cars were in the middle of a battle that forever changed that type of racing for the worse and the Brickyard 400 brought an entire audience of mid-west folks into NASCAR who we’re always Indy car first and Gordon was the signature face that got it started.

Gordon had 13 wins in 1998
In 1998, after two consecutive 10 win seasons and winning two Cup championships, Gordon reeled off 13 wins, one of which was the Brickyard 400 to become the first to win the race twice. Three years later in 2001, Gordon won the Brickyard 400 again, and then again, three years later winning in 2004, which remains his last win there.

Jimmie Johnson has won three of the last five seasons at the Brickyard, but it wasn’t with the same type of impact that Gordon will forever hold at the track. Johnson came into an era that had already peaked with almost every corner of the country having a Cup race. Gordon’s aura at the track exits because of it’s importance to the entire growth of NASCAR. At the time, there were no tracks at Texas, Fontana, Las Vegas, Homestead, Chicagoland, Kansas or Kentucky.

This week Gordon has a great chance to win for the fifth time at Indy, largely on the basis of his Pocono win six weeks ago, but also because of past success on the track.

Even though Gordon is on the verge of tying the track record for career wins with five, he still holds the past history with great reverance and modestly down plays his accomplishments there in the broad scope.

"I don’t think what I’ve done should ever be compared to what A.J. Foyt or Al Unser or Rick Mears did here with their four Indianapolis 500 victories," Gordon said earlier this week. "And I don’t think Michael Schumacher’s five wins (in Formula 1) should be compared either. They are all completely different disciplines — sometimes on a completely different track.”

Pocono is always a great barometer to use when handicapping Indy even though the configuration is vastly different, but each track has similar flat turns and endless straightaways.

Others drivers that should perform well this week on the basis of Pocono include Denny Hamlin, the Busch brothers, Juan Pablo Montoya and of course, Johnson. On the basis of just running well consistently at Indianapolis, you have to begin with Indiana native and two-time Brickyard winner Tony Stewart. Kevin Harvick has also performed well annually in the race with a 2003 win and six other top-10 finishes in his 10 starts.

It's been hit or miss for the No. 48 team at Indy (Getty)
For Johnson, it's either hit or miss at Indy. In between his three wins in nine races, he's got finishes of 36th, 38th, 39th and 22nd (last year) giving him a poor average finish of 18.3 in those starts. At Pocono last month, Johnson finished fourth. This week he'll be using a brand new chassis as he attempts to tie Gordon's NASCAR record with four wins on the track.

Over the last six races at Indy, no one has a better NASCAR rating than Tony Stewart (109.3). NASCAR began keeping a rating system in 2005 that factored in detailed information like quality passes, laps led and finish position for each race and Stewart has been the best despite running for two different teams over that span. Stewart won in 2005 and 2007 while driving for Joe Gibbs and finished third and fifth the last two seasons driving for his own team.

Of course, Stewart also has extra incentive to win at Indy because of being an Indiana native, and like Gordon, he also had goals of winning the Indy 500.

“It’s my home race, obviously," Stewart said. Growing up in Indiana and every year watching the Indy 500 and the whole month of May leading up to it, a race at the Brickyard is more than just a regular points race. It’s always been a big race to all of the Cup drivers, but then when you grow up in Indiana, it just makes it that much more important."

An interesting note to consider is that a Ford hasn’t won at the Brickyard since Dale Jarrett did in 1999. A Dodge last won in 2002 with Bill Elliott, who incidentally also won at Pocono that year. A Chevy has won the last eight straight years. The surprise out of the short history of NASCAR at Indianapolis is that no Roush-Fenway car has ever won.

Edwards will attempt to give Roush his first Indy win (Getty)
Two years ago, Jack Roush finally got his first Daytona 500 win and he currently has the points leader, Carl Edwards, who has proven to be pretty good at both Pocono and Indy over the years giving him a great shot to break through.

Despite Roush being shutout in 17 tries, Edwards at least has a good handle on what it will take to win at the Brickyard.

“Indy is tough because you have to be able to turn in the center of the corners and that sounds very simple, but it’s very difficult because the corners are so sharp for such a high-speed race track," Edwards explained. "You have to have a really big engine because you slow down so much and then have these short chutes in between, so the FR9 should be a big help to us this year. I was second at Indy in 2008 and to be that close to victory and see the celebration going on makes you want it even more.”

It's also interesting to note -- with Edwards currently leading in points -- that eight of the 17 Brickyard winners have gone on to win championships the same year. Johnson has done it three times, Gordon twice, with Stewart, Jarrett and Bobby Labonte all doing it once.

Edwards is always a candidate to win, but I'll stick with mostly guys in Chevy bow-ties this week as recent history suggests.

Top-5 Finish prediction:
1) #24 Jeff Gordon (10/1)
2) #14 Tony Stewart (10/1)
3) #22 Kurt Busch (10/1)
4) #29 Kevin Harvick (10/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)

Driver Notes & Quotes for All-State 400 at the Brickyard

Jimmie Johnson has won at Indy three of the last five years (Getty)
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON THE BRICKYARD:  "My view is shaped in the 30 or 40 years of watching and there are certainly other names that go further back that mean a lot more, but during my time watching Rick Mears – I don’t think I remember watching (AJ) Foyt win there, but certainly remember him hammering on his car one time on pit road. I have to think from a dominant standpoint it would be Rick Mears. Watching Helio (Castroneves) win those three that he has won – I guess that would be the other one that comes in my mind first.”

JOHNSON ON THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON: “I would say parity is really the first thing that comes to mind. You can flip it around and maybe say the lack of a dominant team as well. There have been guys that can flex muscle at times, but no one consistently has just schooled everybody. It’s been very, very equal this year and unpredictable if you will. A lot of first time winners, which is great to have and no runaways right now. It’s been an exciting time for the fans I believe. Then also we’ve been acting like fools out there at times so that’s always spicing things up.”

JOHNSON ON THE CHASSIS SELECTIONS FOR THE CHASE: “Yeah, we do develop through the course of the year, favorite cars or cars that we think certain wind tunnel numbers and characteristics in the way that they drive will apply to different tracks. On our side, we might put a car on the shelf and hold off for the Chase to use it."

"It’s so tough because every race counts and if you can take a car and get a win with it and get some bonus points – seeding process and all those things that go on then you want to do that and you’re going to take that chance. Yes we do start earmarking some cars and want to take them places, but we find that we just keep using what we need. We want to go to every race and win. It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think and when you talk about the favorite car anymore, the differences are so small that I’m not sure us drivers can really feel it anymore. The rules are so tight and strict that one car will blow a little better in the wind tunnel and we’re talking just a few points and we’re like, ‘That’s our best car.’ But if you really look at it, it’s nothing. It’s the smallest differences anymore. We look at that and we try to do that, but it’s not like we haven’t raced a car for months just because we’re saving it for the Chase. Our stuff we use on a regular basis.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Johnson will pilot brand new chassis No. 681 in Sunday’s event. Johnson finished 16th in backup chassis No. 623 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.

Kevin Harvick has a 9.9 average finish in 10 Brickyard starts
KEVIN HARVICK ON RACING AT INDY: “When you go to Indy there can be nobody sitting in the grandstands and it’s still the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s still been there for 100 years and still is our second biggest race that we go to. So for us, it’s where you bring your latest and greatest car, your latest and greatest engine, and it’s just kind of like the Daytona 500. It’s all about trying to win the race and putting it on the line to do that is what it’s all about. It’s a prestigious race to win and nobody in the garage is going to go there with any intention other than to try to win the race when they unload their cars.:

"From the first time we stepped foot in that place it’s been a good race track for us. We’ve had good results there. I enjoy going there. It’s just one of those places where I really like going to. All the guys enjoy going there and being able to just race there is an honor. It’s been a good race track for us. It’s flat and we’ve always been good on the flatter type race tracks and I think that’s got something to do with it as well. Really it’s just getting off of all four corners and being able to make your car turn well enough to be in the gas so you can get down the long straightaways. I would say (Turns) 2 and 4 are probably the most important corners because you have so much distance to carry down the long straightaways. It’s definitely a challenge every lap. If it’s really hot it becomes even more of a challenge. It’s just a fun place.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 304 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The No. 29 team has utilized this car twice so far in 2011, scoring a sixth-place finish at Bristol (3/20) and a 17th-place finish at Darlington (5/7) after late-race contact. Harvick also drove chassis No. 304 four times in 2010, earning finishes of third (Richmond, 5/1), fifth (New Hampshire, 6/27), ninth (Richmond, 9/11) and 13th (Phoenix, 4/10).

JEFF GORDON ON RACING AT INDY: “I think NASCAR had a test session here in 1992 or 1993, and I was bummed that I didn’t get the chance to participate in it. When I finally got the chance to drive down the front straightaway, it was like ‘whoa.’ And then to win the inaugural race? Unbelievable. It’s still like that for me — just an incredible feeling driving here. But it also always takes me a few laps to get up to speed each year. The first time you drive off into (turn) 1, it’s like ‘whoa, I can’t make this corner.’ Then you realize you let off (the accelerator) way too early. I don’t think what I’ve done should ever be compared to what A.J. Foyt or Al Unser or Rick Mears did here with their four Indianapolis 500 victories. And I don’t think Michael Schumacher’s five wins (in Formula 1) should be compared either. They are all completely different disciplines — sometimes on a completely different track.”

Ryan Newman is looking for some home cooking Sunday
RYAN NEWMAN ON INDY: “Doing what we do, we’ll take a week off anytime you can get it. This is a demanding sport. We work so hard to get the things that we do on the racetrack, sometimes it’s nice to take a weekend off away from the racetrack, neutralize yourself. I had a nice week away working on my hobby farm and even when and four-wheeled with (Tony) Gibson and some of the guys, so it was nice. It was kind of a Catch 22 having the off-weekend, but we’ve still got our momentum and we’re going to Indianapolis as the most recent race winner, so we have that on our side.

“To be honest though, we didn’t kick it out of gear for very long. And we are definitely going into Indianapolis with a lot of weight off our shoulders and a smile on our face is going to be really nice for our team and organization. New Hampshire was huge for our team and even bigger for our organization. I don’t know that I realized how big until the next day when I was doing interviews and someone told me the stat about the last time that a team started 1-2 and finished in those exact positions. As much as I study the history of this sport, I was stunned by that stat and really honored that I was part of something so big. We made that race ours – all the guys came together and made it happen – and I’m just really proud of what we have accomplished.”

NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: This will be the first start for Chassis No. 39-677. The new chassis for the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team was wind-tunnel tested this month and will turn its first laps on track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON INDY: “At Indy, it is real tight getting into Turn 1. If you can roll down into that corner, there is a lot of speed to be gained there because as you go around the track each corner seems to be easier and freer to get through. Turn 4 is the loosest corner. So just turning down in Turn 1 and getting the car turned and being able to carry speed into (Turn) 2 I think creates a good lap. From there, you build on the momentum and speed from what you did in Turn 1. It all has a repercussion on each following corner.”

DALE JR. CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-617. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish in the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May.

Stewart and Newman both hail from Indiana (Getty)
TONY STEWART ON RACING AT HIS HOME TRACK: “It’s my home race, obviously (IMS). Growing up in Indiana and every year watching the Indy 500 and the whole month of May leading up to it, a race at the Brickyard is more than just a regular points race. It’s always been a big race to all of the Cup drivers, but then when you grow up in Indiana, it just makes it that much more important. It’s a place that is a momentum-driven track. You don’t just have two ends to the racetrack and two big 180-degree corners. You’ve got four 90-degree corners to negotiate. If you have one bad corner at Indy and if your car’s not right, you’re going to be bad in four corners versus two corners a lap. And with it being two-and-a-half miles, you carry so much speed, if you lose momentum at that track, it just seems like it’s really a big penalty."

"In an Indy car you just don’t lift – if the car’s right. But in a stock car, even if it’s right, you’ve got to lift and you’ve got to brake for at least two of the corners. With the other two corners, you just lift, basically. It’s a challenging track in a Cup car. It’s a challenging track in an Indy car too, but if you can get it right in an Indy car then you can run it wide-open around there, and that’s one less variable you’ve got to worry about when it comes to getting around the racetrack.”

STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This is a brand new race car that has only been tested in the wind tunnel. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will mark the first time Chassis No. 14-671 turns a wheel on the track.

CLINT BOWYER ON RACING AT INDY: “It’s a lot of fun to be able to go to Indy. It means a lot to everyone to have the chance to race on that track with so much history behind it. We have to get better at that place. Our first run there was very good, but since then, we’ve been mediocre. We have to get ourselves back to running well on those kinds of race tracks."

"With that being said, I think we’re bringing a new car there. We’ve tried to put some things together that I think will be the latest and greatest. We’re hoping to get the best result out of it. Indy is a big deal. In the sport of auto racing, Indy is one of the biggest deals out there. I think that the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year and Indy is the second biggest race of the year. Jeff Burton and I sat on the front row the first year I was there. It was a great feeling to be able to lead the field down through there into a sea of people. It’s just an unbelievable sight to see and to be able to soak that all in is a pretty cool feeling.

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 368 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new No. 33 Chevrolet Impala that will turn its first laps during opening practice on Friday at the Brickyard.

Montoya a threat to win at Indy in any kind of car (Getty)
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON RACING AT INDY: “I won the Indianapolis 500 and I think winning the Brickyard would be really cool. It would be cool to have both wins there. We run really well there. And it is not because I really know the track. I ran the Indy Cars once there and the road course was the other way around for Formula One. It just suits my style I guess. I really understand what we need to do to make a car go fast around that track. I do think that this year is going to be a bit closer then what we saw have seen in the past, especially after our tire test there a couple months back, but we should be okay. It should be fun.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: New car this week that ran laps during June's Goodyear tire test.

PAUL MENARD ON INDY: “I love Indianapolis and I really look forward to going there every year. I was eight years old the first time I ever went there, and it was the coolest experience I’ve ever been through. I’ve been a huge fan of Indianapolis ever since. We would go to the (Indianapolis) 500 to watch my dad’s cars race. Indy has my two favorite races. My favorite one to watch is still the (Indianapolis) 500 and my favorite one to race in is the Brickyard (400). It was very exciting as a child to be at the (Indianapolis) 500 because it was a big, historical event. Indianapolis has a special place in my heart. I just love that race track.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 364 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and will make its first paces this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Martin has finished 11th or better in six straight Indy races
MARK MARTIN ON INDY: “This track has so much historical significance to racing as a whole. Knowing who’s raced here before you, who’s walked through that same garage, it’s really very cool. There’s not a driver in NASCAR who won’t tell you that, next to the Daytona 500, the Brickyard is where they most want to win a race. It’s just got that kind of meaning to it. I haven’t gotten a win at either of those tracks in my career, but I’m hoping it changes this weekend. Finishing second, in any race, isn’t something you should be disappointed with yourself about."

"In 2009, the (No.) 5 team was right there at the end. To fight Jimmie (Johnson) for that win was huge for me and the team. It was hard not to get it, but we were all pretty happy to be fighting for it. Looking back I don’t think there’s anything I could have done differently to get it. I had it all hanging out. In 1998, Dale Jarrett was actually the car to beat. He had some fuel issues and Jeff (Gordon) just ran away with it from there. We’ve been close. Two runner-up finishes isn’t something I’m going to dwell on or be upset with. They sound pretty good to me.”

JEFF BURTON ON INDY: “I think it’s an honor to go to Indy every year. The history is unbelievable. There is nowhere we go where you get the sense of people like you do at Indy with the grandstands on both sides of the front straightaway. It’s fun going there because we didn’t create the history. We go there on someone else’s coat tails. We made Daytona, Darlington and Charlotte. We didn’t make Indy. It’s a cool race and it means a great deal to race there."

"When you walk out on Sunday afternoon to start that race, it’s like nothing else. The driver’s introductions there are pretty cool. It’s amazing to see that many people and the excitement at Indy is cool. It’s an open-wheel, sacred-ground race track and the fact that we can go there and race is truly an honor."

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 367 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Brickyard 400. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet that will be put through its first competitive paces this weekend.

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVROLET – 27TH IN STANDINGS: “Taking in all factors about this weekend’s race, I truly feel that our Furniture Row Chevy has the potential to do something special at Indy,” said Smith. “We had a pretty good run going last year until a mechanical issue, which was also the case the year before. It’s been a pretty good year, but still could be better. Yes, we’ve had some things go our way, but there have also been races that we let a strong performance slip away due to unforced errors. But Indy is a track that we know we can do well on.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – 29TH IN STANDINGS: “It’s hard to believe that it is time to go back to Indy already! Indy is a special race for all of the teams, everyone wants to win at the Brickyard. This is one of the races that all drivers and teams specially prepare for. The teams build new cars, the engine shops get their best engines prepared, there is just a lot of emphasis on this race. It was really cool to win there last year especially for Chip Ganassi. Being able to win the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season was really special for our organization. Indy is such a unique track and requires a little bit different set up than so many of the places that we race . It will be cool to get back there, plus Indy is just such a fun town to go visit!”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: New car this week that ran laps during June's Goodyear tire test.

Zippy and Logano: 12th & 9th at Indy
JOEY LOGANO ON INDY: “I can’t wait to get to Indy, but I think when you are running well you always look forward to going to the next race. After the weekend off, I’m fired up to get back at it with the momentum we have. I’m actually really excited about this race and to see how we will do if we can start where we qualify. Track position is so important at Indianapolis because it is so hard to pass. It was a battle to get the finishes we’ve had after starting in the rear two years in a row after changing engines.

“I know we are bringing a new chassis this weekend and Zippy (Zipadelli) always brings fast cars to Indy. The big question mark will be the tires. Goodyear is bringing a different tire this year. The first practice is going to be really important to see how close the balance of the car will be off the truck.”

LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: Zipadelli and the No. 20 Home Depot Team elected to bring a new chassis, #316, this weekend to compete at IMS. The back-up chassis is #303 that Logano tested on the Thursday of Kentucky and most recently ran at Michigan International Speedway in June.

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON INDY: “We participated in the Goodyear tire test back on May 3 and 4. Our job was to put tire rubber down using the old tire. The test didn’t give us a huge advantage, but the extra track time gave us some ideas and showed us we had good speed. We’ll just see what tire Goodyear brings and go from there. The NAPA team is bringing a brand new Toyota. It has a completely different work up from what we’ve raced over the last two months. Knowing I had a fast car last year and at the test has me pretty pumped up to go the Brickyard. I love racing there and I hope to keep the momentum going for a strong showing in the second half of our season.”

DENNY HAMLIN ON INDY: “I think we’ve shown at Indy that we have what it takes to win there and the team really builds great cars for this track. It’s a track where JGR cars have won before and a track that I really like from the driver’s seat so we go there feeling like we can unload fast, get better in practice, and compete on Sunday. To win here you need the car, the driver and the crew all at their best, and then have a lot of things go your way. We have had our share of issues at Indy, but if you take those away there is no reason we can’t run up front.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON RACING AT INDY: “You can’t go to the Brickyard without thinking about what the track means not only to NASCAR, but to auto racing in general. Being from the Midwestern section of the country myself, I always looked to the spectacle of the Indianapolis 500 and wondered what it would be like to compete there. Now we have the Brickyard 400 for stock cars and it has become one of the most prestigious races in the country as well. Hopefully we can get a good, solid run in this weekend and make a move back toward the top 20 in points. We’ve always been able to qualify up front on flat tracks. Now we just need to continue to finish up there too.”

“It definitely gives you a sense of pride when you go to Indy as a member of Penske Racing. You look at everything Mr. Penske has been able to accomplish there in open-wheel racing. It would be one of the coolest things I could ever do in a racecar if I could get him his first win in the Brickyard 400. We’re going to give it our best shot this weekend. We’ve obviously been able to improve our program over the last couple of months so I feel good about us going there and challenging for the win.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-748 during Sunday’s Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Keselowski drove this chassis to a second-place finish in the All-Star Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. The finish propelled him into the All-Star race, where he posted an 18th-place result.

Only Indy top-5 for Busch came in rookie year of 2001
KURT BUSCH ON INDY: “It’s only natural to have in the back of your mind what it would mean if we can win the race – the really big picture of the significance of a Brickyard 400 win for Roger and Penske Racing. With Roger’s success in the open wheel ranks at Indianapolis – with an incredible 15 wins and 16 poles in the Indy 500 — the significance of putting a win there in the NASCAR record book is certainly magnified. It would be a major accomplishment to be the first Penske Racing NASCAR driver to score that victory.

“When you look at all of ‘the Captain’s’ accomplishments and the records for Penske Racing, the significant major voids in stock car racing are a win in the Brickyard 400 and a NASCAR Sprint Cup points title,” continued Busch. “I know those are major goals for Roger and I want to be the driver who delivers the goods to him. I felt like I contributed somewhat to Roger winning the 2008 Daytona 500 in that I did push (Ryan) Newman across the line to take the win. So, winning the Brickyard 400 and winning a Cup championship are huge goals of ours.

“Everyone remembers just how close that Rusty came to winning at Indy,” Busch said of Rusty Wallace. “Rusty finished second three times and nearly notched that big win in the record book. So the desire and incentive to win in NASCAR at Indy for Roger Penske is so obvious that it shouldn’t call for much explanation.

“A win there on Sunday would be as prominent and important of a feat that’s possible,” Busch added. “For me personally, it would be a thrilling experience I’d always remember and hold at the top of the list of my accomplishments.”

GREG BIFFLE ON INDY: “Yeah, and we came so close last year. We feel like we’re capable of winning it. We kind of proved that last year and we feel like we’re coming back with even a better car. Matt has done a lot of homework on it, so we feel really confident. I certainly think we can win this race. I feel good about it.”


Jeff Gordon Attempting to Tie Indianapolis Track Record For Wins

Jeff Gordon is a four time winner at the Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS (July 26, 2011) – Jeff Gordon grew up in the shadows — and in awe — of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Four Brickyard 400 victories, 17 races and 440laps led later, the historic speedway still gives him a “whoa” moment during each visit tothe 2.5-mile track.

As a teenager, the 84-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner lived in nearby Pittsboro with a dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500. That dream ended with his shift from open-wheeled cars to stock cars in the early 1990′s, but the possibility of winning on the hallowed grounds returned in 1994.

“I think NASCAR had a test session here in 1992 or 1993, and I was bummed that I didn’t get the chance to participate in it,” said the 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004 winner of this event.

“When I finally got the chance to drive down the front straightaway,it was like ‘whoa.’ And then to win the inaugural race? Unbelievable.

“It’s still like that for me — just an incredible feeling driving here. But it also always takes me a few laps to get up to speed each year. The first time you drive off into (turn)1, it’s like ‘whoa, I can’t make this corner.’ Then you realize you let off (the accelerator)way too early.

“Other ‘whoa’ moments for Gordon have occurred off the track.

“Through the Drive To End Hunger program, it’s really opened my eyes to the more than 6 million older Americans that face hunger each day,” said Gordon. “But we’ve been able to provide more than 2.6 million meals to local food banks — and we’ll make another donation in this market.”

Last week during the final off-week/weekend of the 2011 season, Gordon witnessed “too many” ‘whoa’ moments during his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Lead Group of the Clinton Global Initiative. His philanthropic work continues this week with the 10th annual Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation “Bowling Ball” that benefits Riley Hospital for Children.

On Friday, attention turns back to the track where the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion begins his quest to secure win number five at Indianapolis. While four — and the elusive five — has always been a magical number of wins at the speedway, Gordon believes it should be discussed in context.

“I don’t think what I’ve done should ever be compared to what A.J. Foyt or Al Unser or Rick Mears did here with their four Indianapolis 500 victories,” said Gordon, who also has nine top-fives, 13 top-10′s and three poles — each the most among Sprint Cup drivers — in 17 starts here. “And I don’t think Michael Schumacher’s five wins (in Formula 1) should be compared either.

“They are all completely different disciplines — sometimes on a completely different track.”

But it is the NASCAR discipline that is front and center this weekend, and Gordon hopes to be front and center for Victory Lane photographs after securing a fifth win at Indy.

- Performance PR Plus, Press Release

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 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

Roush-Fenway Searching For First Brickyard Win in 18th Attempt

Carl Edwards was runner-up at the Brickyard in 2008 (Getty)
Carl Edwards
Team: No. 99 Scotts Ortho Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Bob Osborne
Chassis: RK-768 – Last ran at Kansas in June, finished fifth

Carl Edwards on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“Indy is tough because you have to be able to turn in the center of the corners and that sounds very simple, but it’s very difficult because the corners are so sharp for such a high-speed race track. You have to have a really big engine because you slow down so much and then have these short chutes in between, so the FR9 should be a big help to us this year. I was second at Indy in 2008 and to be that close to victory and see the celebration going on makes you want it even more.”

Crew Chief Bob Osborne on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“Indy is such a cool place to race with so much history. To win there and be among some of the greats who have kissed the bricks would be awesome. I think having the FR9 engine will certainly be a benefit at a place like Indy where horsepower is so important. We are taking the same car we raced at Kansas last month which was strong in its first outing there.”


* CARL EDWARDS enters Indy leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, seven markers ahead of second place. In 19 starts, Edwards has accumulated one win, 10 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.

* FOR THE RECORD…Edwards will make his seventh Cup start at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. In his previous starts, Edwards has one top-five and three top-10 finishes. His average start is 27.3 and his average finish is 10.5. Edwards captured his best start (ninth) and best finish (second) at the Brickyard in 2008.

* Edwards has completed 100 percent of his laps attempted in Cup competition at Indy, and has the fourth-best average finish among active drivers there.

* IN THE LOOP…According to NASCAR’s loop data acquired over the past six races at Indy, Edwards has turned 42 of the fastest laps in Cup competition. He has spent 487 laps in the top 15.

* ON THE TRACK…The No. 99 Scotts Ortho team will be bringing chassis RK-768 to Indy. This Ford previously raced atKansas in June where Edwards finished fifth.

* REWIND, INDY 2010… With 18 laps left, Edwards made a charge to the front. A few laps after the restart another caution came. The leaders stayed out and Edwards restarted 10th with 11 laps to go. In the closing laps he was able to pick up three more positions to finish the race in seventh place.

Biffle has finished fourth and third in the last two Brickyard races (Getty)
Greg Biffle
Team: No. 16 3M Ford Fusion

Biffle on Indy: “Just driving through the tunnel at Indy is incredible because you don’t really understand how big the place is until you see it in person. Indy is a fast, flat racetrack and it’s very important to be able to get into the corners well there. Having the Ford power under the hood will help us get down the straightaways which is also crucial for a fast lap at Indy. We’ve run well there in the past and even had a shot at winning it last year. I have high expectations for this weekend.”

Puccia on Indy: “Indy is obviously the fastest flat track that we go to and handling in the turns will be very important. Track position is huge so we’ll need a good qualifying effort but it is an impound race so that will affect our strategy as well. If we can start up front and stay in the clean air, I think we’ll have a good day. We’d all like to get the American Red Cross car to victory lane this week and help them bring awareness to the need for blood donations throughout the summertime.”

Indianapolis Notes
• Biffle is currently 15th in the Sprint Cup point standings following his 18th-place finish in New Hampshire. He is 47 points out of the 10th position with seven races remaining until the Chase.

• Biffle’s average finish at New Hampshire is 13,9 from an average starting position of 16.2.

• The No. 16 Ford will have a special American Red Cross Type O “Give Blood” paint scheme this weekend to remind race fans to donate blood throughout the summer months when donations tend to drop.

• Type O negative blood is always in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with any blood type, especially in emergency situations.

• Go to to learn about Brian Boyle and his inspiring story about how American Red Cross blood donors helped save his life.

Matt Kenseth has been runner-up twice at the Brickyard (Getty)
Matt Kenseth
Team: No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
Chassis: Primary: RK-741 (last raced at Kentucky)

Kenseth on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“The history of Indy really makes you appreciate the fact that we race there with the Cup series. It’s one of the most difficult tracks that we go to in regards to passing, and it’s a fairly fast track with four tight 90-degree corners and basically one groove to race in. Indy is definitely one of the most difficult tracks to be able to pass and get the track position you want at. The one thing that stands out about Indy is when you’re coming down the frontstretch at 200 mph, with the stands on either side of the narrow track, and you’re looking straight ahead to that wall in Turn 1 since it’s a 90-degree corner. It’s a pretty intimidating view the first few times you race there.”

Crew chief Jimmy Fennig on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“Indianapolis is one of the races that I’ve always wanted to win because of the history associated with motorsports at that track. We’re taking one of our best cars this weekend so I have high hopes that it will once again perform well. Matt runs really well at Indy and he’s had a lot of strong runs there. The thing that makes it difficult to win at Indy is that it’s difficult to pass there since the track is so narrow. We’ll spend practice time on both race trim and qualifying trim since track position is so important at a narrow track like Indy.”

• Kenseth has four top five and six top-10 finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

• Kenseth has finished inside the top 10 in six of the last nine starts at IMS

• Kenseth posted his career best starting position (10th) at Indy in 2008

• Kenseth has an average starting position of 21.5 and an average finishing position of 15.1 at Indy

• Kenseth has finished second twice at Indianapolis (2003 and 2006)

• Kenseth has completed 1,586 of 1,761 career laps (90.1 percent) at Indy and led for a total of 28 laps

• This weekend at Indianapolis, Kenseth will pilot the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

• Entering this weekend, Kenseth is currently sixth in the Sprint Cup Series driver point standings

Kenseth will race in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 with a new piece of equipment in his No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, a specially designed Crown Royal helmet created by an Indianapolis area adult consumer. Friday night Kenseth will unveil the Crown Royal helmet he’ll wear during the race with the help of ESPN 1070 The Fan. In addition to seeing their creation on Kenseth, the creator of the winning helmet design will receive passes to Sunday’s Brickyard 400, a behind-the-scenes look at the No. 17 Crown Royal team and a meet and greet with Kenseth.

David Ragan has an 18.5 average finish position in four Indy starts (Getty)
David Ragan
Team:No. 6 UPS/Hall of Fame Ned Jarrett Tribute Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Drew Blickensderfer
Chassis: Primary: RK-777 Brand new chassis; Backup: RK-711 Last ran Darlington – finished 21st

Ragan on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“Indy is one of the bigger races of the season, and a halfway point as we move into the final few races before the Chase, so there couldn’t be a better time to show off a cool paint scheme, like our blue car. It’s an honor to drive this UPS/Ned Jarrett Hall of Fame tribute car. I’m looking forward to seeing Ned and everyone at the race track this weekend. It’s fun to get the chance to give him appreciation for his Hall of Fame induction.”

Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer on racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“Indy is one of the biggest races every year and we’ve built a brand new UPS Ford for it with a new paint scheme. The track has a unique configuration and that’s something we don’t race on very often. It’s awesome to have UPS honoring Ned Jarrett’s induction into the Hall of Fame on our car for this weekend. The Jarretts have been a great family for our sport.”

• Recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Ned Jarrett, will be featured on the No. 6 UPS Ford this weekend. UPS has transformed the look of David Ragan’s car to resemble the car design Jarrett drove during his 1965 championship season. For more information, visit:

• UPS employee, Gerald Goldman, will serve as an honorary member of the UPS team this weekend in Indy. Goldman has been a mechanic with UPS for 21 years and will have his name featured on the C-Post of David Ragan’s No. 6 UPS Ford.

- Roush Fenway Racing, Press Releases

Kyle Busch Hopes to Figure Out 'Tricky' Brickyard With New Chassis

Best finish at Indy: Fourth-place in 2007
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 26, 2011) – Anyone who has watched the racing career of Kyle Busch knows he’s found a knack for putting his name in the record books.

Over the course of his relatively short NASCAR career, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), who heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race, seems to have taken full advantage of his opportunities to make history in each of NASCAR’s top three series.

It started when Busch was just 16 years old and became the youngest driver to start a Camping World Truck Series event when he took the green flag at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. The date was Aug. 3, 2001.

In 2005, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Busch was just 20 years and 125 days old when he became the youngest Sprint Cup winner ever – a record he held until June 2009 when his JGR teammate Joey Logano won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon at 19 years and 35 days old.

Logano might have broken Busch’s record for youngest Sprint Cup winner, but Busch still is the youngest driver to win a Sprint Cup pole – a feat he accomplished in February 2005, also at Fontana, in just his eighth career Sprint Cup start.

Fast-forward to two weekends ago at New Hampshire, where Busch won his 49th career Nationwide Series race, tying the venerable Mark Martin for the all-time series win record. In the process of tying that record, Busch also tallied his 100th win among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (22), Nationwide (49) and Camping World Truck (29) with that Nationwide win at New Hampshire.

What might be the next major accomplishment on the talented 26-year-old’s list? Perhaps achieving the highly coveted personal milestone of scoring the victory this weekend at auto racing’s most historic venue for the very first time?

Busch would like nothing more than to add to his win list a race he and his fellow competitors consider part of the Sprint Cup’s “Big Three” – the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

Earning the right to kiss the Yard of Bricks come Sunday afternoon would shoot straight to the top of Busch’s growing list of accomplishments, for certain. And if records are made to be broken, it seems Busch was made to keep breaking records for years to come.


What does it take to be successful at Indianapolis?
“Indianapolis is probably one of the trickiest places we go to on the schedule – Pocono being one, Darlington being one, Indy being another. It’s so hard to find a particular line that really, really works for you or really works for your car because the groove is so narrow. It’s plenty wide for one or one-and-a-half cars, but the line that you run around there, you vary six inches and it feels so different. You really have to be particular in hitting your marks and getting your car set up. The way that it changes throughout the weekend, going from practice, when there’s not much rubber on the racetrack, and then to the race, with a lot of rubber on the racetrack – the trajectory of the corners changes. How wide do you enter the corner? How long do you stay out? How sharp do you turn down? Indy’s definitely a particular racetrack and it’s exciting for us all to go there, especially with the history there and the prestige of winning that event. I’d love nothing more than to win there on Sunday with my M&M’s Camry. It would be something cool. Been close a couple times, but I’d like to get a little closer.”

Where does Indy rank on the list of prestigious wins in this series?
“It’s number two. It’s right there. Daytona is one, Indy is two. They’re both pretty close. Daytona probably pays a little bit more because NASCAR has to do that. Indy is an important racetrack for a lot of people. The history of that place, it’s all been Indy cars. But it’s still one of the first big superspeedways in America dating back to the early 1900s. There’s a lot there that everyone always wants to win.”

Did you watch the Indy 500 growing up?
“I never really paid much attention to Indy car stuff growing up. I always kind of watched it to see the cars go around there. And I’d always watch a little bit during the month of May to see what kind of speeds they were turning, and what the new rules were when they came out with new rules to slow the cars down, and to see the guys get them going faster again. It was always fun to watch that. Then you get to the race and it wasn’t a whole lot for me to watch or learn.”

Busch has fond memories of Jeff Gordon and the Brickyard
Do you remember when you first heard the words Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Brickyard 400?
“Probably the first time I knew of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or the Indy 500, was back in the ’80s – probably ’89, maybe even 1990. Of course, the first time I knew of the Brickyard 400 was ’94, being a big Jeff Gordon fan and following him growing up in Las Vegas. When he came into the sport a few years earlier and won the Coca-Cola 600, and then carried that into the Brickyard 400, and then won that race right off the bat, that was quite an accomplishment, for sure.”

What is it about Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it unique compared to other tracks that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits?
“It’s very tight down the straightaways. You roll through (turns) one and two, and there are people on the inside, there are people on the outside, there are people in the grass, just sitting along the back straightaway on the inside. You’ve got the golf course there, and fans sitting on the hills underneath the trees. You start back up into turn three, with the grandstands going around (turns) three and four, and then down the frontstretch and, again, there are two tunnels. There’s a tunnel at the (turns) one and two side, and on the (turns) three and four side. There’s a center road that runs all the way through and then, coming down the frontstretch again, looking on both sides of you, you’ve got the pit road, which is really narrow and really tight, and the grandstands on the inside and the outside. So, you’re going down a ‘V’ of just people – a sea of people. Coming to the Pagoda and the media center, the way it is, and of course the scoring pylon being as tall as it is, you come down there and, if you’re leading the race, sometimes you can’t see that high, so you’re kind of wondering who is second and third, or who is behind you. It stinks when you’re running in the back because you can see yourself right there.”

Joe Gibbs Racing has won at The Brickyard three times – twice with Tony Stewart, once with Bobby Labonte. What are your thoughts on Coach Gibbs’ history at Indianapolis and what it would mean to add a Brickyard 400 trophy to your trophy case?
“Coach, being as successful as he has been there with Tony, and him being a big name from Indiana, wanting to win there, being a Hoosier, himself, that’s cool. I’m sure it was big for those guys. Bobby (Labonte) winning the year he won the championship for Joe Gibbs Racing at that racetrack was cool, with Jimmy Makar and all those guys. I’m just wishing one day I can put my name on that list by getting a win at that track and trying to run up front. You always want to win the big races. You want to win the Brickyard 400, the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 – some of those big races – before your career is over.”

Brand new chassis for Kyle Busch at the Brickyard
Chassis No. 315:
This is a brand new chassis that is slated to see action for the first time in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Notes of Interest:
· The Brickyard 400 will mark Busch’s 242nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his seventh Sprint Cup start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

· Busch has career totals of 22 wins, seven poles, 76 top-fives, 114 top-10s and 6,731 laps led in 241 career Sprint Cup races. His most recent Sprint Cup win came two races ago at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Although he started first at Kentucky by virtue of his top practice speed after qualifying was rained out, NASCAR does not credit him with the pole. His last pole qualifying effort came 42 races ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

· Busch has one top-five, four top-10s, and has led a total of 39 laps in six career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. His average Indianapolis finish is 13.7.

· While he was the Sprint Cup points leader heading into New Hampshire two weekends ago, his 36th-place finish in the 19th race of the season dropped him from first to fifth in the championship point standings. He now has 632 points and is 20 markers behind new series leader Carl Edwards.

· During each race, bonus points are awarded – one point for leading a lap, one point for leading the most laps and three points for winning the race. Busch has accumulated 27 bonus points this season, more than any other driver. Kevin Harvick is next-best with 20 bonus points. The bonus point total Busch has collected thus far in 2011 is the equivalent of an extra 17th-place finish in a race without leading a lap.

· After the 19 Sprint Cup races held thus far in 2011, Busch leads the Sprint Cup Series in 11 statistical categories and is in the top-two in one other category:
Ø Best average running position (10.219)
Ø Fastest in laps run (471, or 9.9 percent)
Ø Best driver rating (108.6)
Ø Most laps led (1,060, or 18.9 percent)
Ø Most miles led (1,221.25)
Ø Most laps in the top-15 (4,534, or 81.0 percent)
Ø Fastest driver early in a run (5.200 rank)
Ø Best green-flag speed (4.933 rank)
Ø Fastest speed in traffic (8.158 rank)
Ø Fastest driver on restarts (11.947 rank)
Ø Most quality passes (1,347)
Ø Second-fastest driver late in a run (6.867 rank)

· Reaching the Century Mark: After winning the Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon two weekends ago, Busch reached 100 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (22), Nationwide (49) and Truck (29). In addition to hitting the 100-win milestone, Busch’s win at New Hampshire was the 49th of his career in the Nationwide Series, tying the venerable Mark Martin for the all-time series win record.

· 22 and Climbing: With his historic win in the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky three weekends ago, the 22nd Sprint Cup win of his young career, Busch jumped to 29th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with two-time champion Terry Labonte.

· Right on ‘Track:’ Of the 29 tracks that will host NASCAR’s top three divisions in 2011, Busch has competed at every circuit but one (Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.) and has won at 24 of them. There are only three current Sprint Cup venues – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Pocono, and Indianapolis – where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR’s top three series. Busch will focus on running just one race in Indianapolis this weekend – Sunday’s Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup race.

· Good Things Come in Threes: By winning the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races at Kentucky two races ago, coupled with his 2004 win in the Nationwide Series race at Kentucky, Busch upped his total to nine tracks at which he has won in all three of NASCAR’s top three series. Those include Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Phoenix International Raceway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and New Hampshire.

· 20 Times Three: Since joining Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota at the start of 2008, Busch notched 21 overall wins in 2008, 20 in 2009, and a career-high 24 victories in 2010, making him the only driver in NASCAR history to have three consecutive 20-plus-win seasons across NASCAR’s top three divisions. He has 14 overall wins thus far in 2011.

· Toyota Trophies: Busch has earned 80 overall wins driving Toyota equipment in NASCAR’s top three series.

- True Speed Communication for Joe Gibbs Racing, Press Release