Everybody in NASCAR wants to win at Indianapolis. It is one of the few tracks having that recognizable heavy air of history surrounding everything that happens there. The Brickyard 400 is no different, although it is a relatively young race and even those that never had a chance at participating in the Indy 500 feel just as strongly about the 400 and think it is one of the more important races to have on their win list.
It is my opinion this year’s Brickyard 400 could be one of the most exciting NASCAR races at the historic track. That may sound like a bold statement but let me tell you why I think the way I do about this years race at Indy.
First of all, just look at the top ten qualifiers. Nine of the top ten cars are Chevys. So you say, how is that going to make it an interesting race? With all of those Chevys out front from the beginning, how can that make for any similarity to an interesting race?
For just a minute, take a look at these important facts. Not only are the Hendrick Chevys well represented in the top ten with Jimmie Johnson starting second, Mark Martin starting third and Jeff Gordon starting eighth, but the Richard Childress camp is also right there with Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton starting sixth, ninth and tenth. Those are two of the strongest teams over the last several weeks and should make the end of the race interesting. Add to those, the Earnhardt/Ganassi Chevys of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray starting first and fourth and you have one perfect Chevy storm building up for Sunday’s race. (And let’s not forget the Stewart/Haas Chevy of Ryan Newman, starting fifth, also a piece of Hendrick equipment.)
The only Ford in the top ten was Greg Biffle’s #16 Jack Roush entry starting seventh and one has to think he could figure into the late race mix as well while his team-mate, Matt Kenseth is starting thirteenth.
I know that probably raises the question about he fact that I usually don’t put much stock in qualifying so why is this weekend any different? Once again, that is a great question and I am so glad someone asked it.
Indy is another one of the few tracks that NASCAR visits that has a history for track position being important and the best way to maintain a position near the front is to have a good pit stall. It will be imperative for the person that is out front to maintain his track position and it will most assuredly prove to be the case once again this weekend.
To be honest, I’m not even thinking about someone totally unexpected to win this race. It would be a complete shock to me if it was. I have to mention at this point that the Chip Ganassi teams look awfully tough, especially Juan Montoya. After his performance last year and the pit road speeding penalty that took him out of contention, I look for him to be leading a lot of laps on Sunday afternoon. He could be looking at going for his second win at the track in a stock car if it hadn’t been for the miscue on pit road last year. This year, it looks like they have brought an even better car and barring the complete unforeseen, I do expect to see the #42 Target Chevy to be right in there at the end, fighting for the victory, (or perhaps even worse, covering the field for extended green flag runs and making the prediction of an exciting race a very dim memory.)
I’m not quite ready to put all of my eggs in one basket at this point and declare that Juan Pablo Montoya will win, but I do have to admit he has proven to be very capable at this track. It’s just that there is at least one other strong Chevy starting on the front row, too. The driver of that car is Jimmie Johnson and I do completely expect the #48 Lowe’s Chevy to make a race of it.
I think it would be foolish of anyone to think those two drivers are the only ones capable of taking the checkers at Indy this Sunday. Although there are some strong cars starting in the middle of the pack, the ones qualifying and starting out front in the top ten have to figure very heavily in who will be around at the front for the final laps and it could be any one of them. (In fact, Jeff Gordon could very possibly come away with his fifth win at Indy.)
That brings to mind the old adage that says, “To finish first, you must first finish” and to use another one, “that is where the rubber meets the road.” Barring major equipment failures, I believe all of the top ten starters and possibly a few others will all be fighting it out at the end and one thing is certain… the best car and driver is going to win this one and you can take that to the bank… Just don’t expect to be surprised by some dark horse winner taking the trophy home and kissing the bricks when it is all over. That just wouldn’t be Indy or the Brickyard 400… (But then again, this is Nascar, isn’t it…)
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 25, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com
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