Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Brickyard 400 Storylines: 15 of 19 winners have been by series champions

Champions seem to find their way to winners circle at Brickyard
NASCAR Storylines for Week of July 22, 2013

Nearly two decades of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continue to confirm this Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by (1 p.m. ET, ESPN, MRN Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio) as a classic event.

The list of winners is proof enough.

Fifteen of 19 winners are NASCAR Sprint Cup champions. One, Dale Earnhardt, is a NASCAR Hall of Famer. Another, Dale Jarrett, is due for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next January. Defending winner Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are likely candidates for enshrinement in their first years of eligibility.

The three have won a combined 10 Brickyard races. Four-time winners Johnson and Gordon are one victory apiece shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time Speedway record.

Johnson enters Sunday’s race with four victories and a 56-point championship lead. Closest rivals Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards drive for teams – Michael Waltrip Racing and Roush Fenway Racing – yet to win at Indy. Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only competitors among the current top 10 to have mastered the 2.5-mile layout.

Danica Patrick will become the first female to compete in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Patrick fashioned third and fourths among six top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500.

Sam Hornish Jr., a former Indianapolis 500 winner, picked a good week to regain the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship lead. Hornish finished second in the series’ inaugural Indianapolis 250 (4:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN, MRN Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio) a year ago.

The race marks the fourth and final leg of the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash. Hornish, Austin Dillon, Elliot Sadler and Brian Vickers can win $100,000 as the highest finishing eligible driver.

NASCAR returns to its roots at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, SPEED, MRN Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio) when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competes on the .5-mile dirt track – the organization’s first on a clay surface since late 1970 in Raleigh, N.C.

Although Matt Crafton enjoys a healthy, 39-point lead in the standings, it’s unclear how points-eligible competitors will fare in a unique event against such dirt racing experts as Scott Bloomquist, Ken Schrader, Ryan Newman and Kenny Wallace. Former NASCAR Camping World Truck champion Austin Dillon returns to the series to compete against younger brother and title hopeful Ty Dillon.


Brickyard Race Showcases NASCAR Sprint Cup’s ‘Best Of The Best’
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th time on Sunday for a 400-mile race that showcases “the best of the best.” Fifteen of the 19 races have been won by series champions. The Brickyard winner has gone on to capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in eight different seasons. Jimmie Johnson was the most recent in 2009, duplicating his Indy-Sprint Cup championship sweeps of 2006 and 2008.

Johnson, Gordon Chasing Indianapolis Victory Mark
Reigning winner Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon each has won four times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A fifth victory would match the Indianapolis winners’ record held by Formula One’s Michael Schumacher. Johnson has won four of the track’s last seven races. Gordon won the track’s inaugural event in 1994 and last visited Victory Lane there in 2004.

Indy Success Eludes Most Competitors Currently In Top 10
Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only members of the current top 10 in the standings – and provisionally Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ eligible – to have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harvick’s victory came in 2003. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard are former Brickyard winners battling for Wild Card entry into the Chase although Menard – 20th – is only 36 points outside the top 10.

Stewart-Haas, Patrick In This Week’s Spotlight
This could be a big week for Stewart-Haas Racing. Two of its drivers, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, are Indiana natives. A third, Danica Patrick, will become the first female to compete in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the fabled track. Stewart has won the 400-mile race in 2005 – when he fashioned his second of three titles – and 2007. Newman’s best finish of fourth came in 2002. He was seventh in 2012. Patrick finished fourth in her first Indianapolis 500, third in 2009 and among the top 10 in six of her seven 500 starts.

Penske Yet To Transfer ‘500’ Domination Into NASCAR Victory
Roger Penske has won a record 15 Indianapolis 500s. But the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship owner remains winless at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a stock car. He’s come close; frustratingly close. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished second three times between 1995 and 2002. Penske isn’t the only top-tier NSCS owner without a Brickyard victory. Roush Fenway Racing has gone 0-for-19 with runner-up finishes by Mark Martin (1998) and Matt Kenseth (2003, 2006) its best. Michael Waltrip Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing also are among top teams seeking their first Brickyard victory.

Chevrolet: Nearly Invincible At The Brickyard
You could say Chevrolet has run the table at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in recent years – 10 years to be exact. The last non-Chevrolet to win at the Brickyard was Ray Evernham’s Dodge, driven by Bill Elliott, in 2001. A General Motors product has won 15 of the 19 races held at the Brickyard. Ford’s third and most recent victory was recorded by 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Jarrett in 1999. Toyota, which joined NASCAR Sprint Cup competition in 2007, notched its best finish at Indy last year with Kyle Busch’s runner-up performance.


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