Race Preview for the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway (aka: the Brickyard) is home of the Indianapolis 500 and is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious tracks in all of motorsports. After taking a week off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will now return to the Brickyard for the fifteenth time in a race whose prestige to NASCAR regulars is rivaled only by the season opening Daytona 500. In the previous 14 trips to the track, Indianapolis has produced only three multiple winners in NASCAR, and only two of them will be in the field on Sunday - Jeff Gordon (4 wins) and Tony Stewart (2 wins), with Dale Jarrett being the other. With the garage area finally being able to weed their way through much of the notorious Silly Season and a week of R&R in the rearview, the drivers will hit the track on Sunday more focused than ever as the countdown to the Chase begins to wind down.
2007 - Tony Stewart
2006 - Jimmie Johnson
2005 - Tony Stewart
2007 - Reed Sorenson
2006 - Jeff Burton
2005 - Elliott Sadler
the Usual Suspects:
As previously mentioned, Jeff Gordon has four wins at Indianapolis, which is tops amongst all drivers in NASCAR. Equally impressive, though, is that he also has 7 top-five’s and 10 top-ten’s through 14 races at the track, both of which are also the best in the Sprint Cup garage area. His 16th place run here in 2006 was his worst since he finished 33rd back in 2000, but he was able to rebound with a 3rd place effort last season. Though he is still without a win 19 races into the 2008 campaign, Gordon’s quietly been creeping his way up through the points standings, and the no. 24 team is beginning to show signs of life again - which could mean very bad things for the other 42 cars out on the track.
Tony Stewart seems to be getting back to enjoying life once again, and there are few places he likes to visit better than the Brickyard, as he has proven with wins here in 2005 and 2007. He’s going to need some strong showings to secure his place in the Chase, as I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to give the Coach one more championship before departing at the end of the season.
Indianapolis has yet to be conquered by the driving prowess of Kyle Busch, but then again, there were a lot of places Kyle had never won at prior to this season. He’s gradually improved each year he’s been here, though, going from 10th to 7th, and finally cracking the top-five with a 4th place finish last year ….. Kevin Harvick had his opportunity to kiss the bricks with his win here back in 2003, and another opportunity to do that would really straighten his season out as he continues to recover from his mid-season slump. He’s finished 11th or better in six of his seven races at Indy ….. Matt Kenseth has never won at the Brickyard before, but he’s been very consistent. In 8 races here, he’s cracked the top-five on four occasions, which includes a pair of runner-up finishes, and he’s finished 16th or better in each of his last six Indy races.
the Unusual Suspects:
Juan Pablo Montoya has run very well in a stock car at almost any track that they also race in the open wheel circuits, and Indianapolis was no exception last year as he finished 2nd in that race. With Pocono and Watkins Glen up next on the schedule, JPM could be looking at a pretty good stretch ahead ….. Brian Vickers has finished 21st or better in three of his four Indy races, which includes a 3rd place finish back in 2005. He’s been running much better this season and could be staring at a potential berth in the Chase field. He ran well at Pocono earlier in the season, a track that many feel shares similar characteristics to the Brickyard ….. Reed Sorenson has come to Indy only twice. The first trip resulted in a dismal 30th place finish, but last year’s visit was much brighter as Reed won the pole and then went onto finish 5th in the race itself.
the Unusual Slackers:
In three races at Indianapolis, Martin Truex Jr. has never finished better than 12th and holds an average finish of just 24.3. This is not a good place for Martin to be right now, either, considering that his team was just handed a 150 point penalty by NASCAR, and he’s going to need plenty of good runs if he plans on having any shot at making the Chase this year ….. Hometown crowd or not, Indy has not been kind to Ryan Newman thus far in his career. Seven times Newman has come home to Indiana with high expectations, but 2002 was the only one that resulted in a top-ten finish, when he finished 4th. He has only two top-15’s here since then ….. Despite winning the race here in 2006, Jimmie Johnson has experienced some unusual struggles here. The results haven’t typically been very indicative of how he’s run, but nonetheless, he’s got three finishes outside of the top-35 in only six tries. His other finishes were a win, a 9th, and an 18th ….. Greg Biffle has seen his share of struggles at Indy as well. In five races here, he’s finished in the top-ten only once, and only twice in the top-15. His overall average finish at the track is 19.2.
Best Driver Ratings (from racingone.com):
1. Tony Stewart - 121.4
2. Juan Pablo Montoya - 120.7
3. Kevin Harvick - 108.7
4. Matt Kenseth - 106.1
5. Mark Martin - 102.9
Best Average Finish (from racingone.com):
1. Juan Pablo Montoya - 2.0
2. Kyle Busch - 7.0
3. Tony Stewart - 7.6
4. Jeff Gordon - 7.6
5. Kevin Harvick - 7.7
- 3rd is the only starting position to produce more than one winner at Indy. Three drivers have driven to victory from the third spot. The 1st and 2nd starting positions have produced one winner each.
- Four drivers have driven six different car numbers at Indianapolis: Bill Elliott, Joe Nemecheck, Jeff Green, Kenny Wallace.
- Dave Blaney is the only driver to have driven five different car makes at Indy. He has driven Pontiac, Ford, Dodge, and Chevy twice each here, and has also driven a Toyota once.
- Only four drivers have finished in the top-ten in each of the last three years: Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Mark Martin.
- Jeff Burton has led more laps at Indianapolis than at any other track that he has not won at.
- The second NASCAR race held here, back in 1995, saw only one caution flag during the race. In 2004, there were 13 cautions.
- Chevrolet has won 9 of the 14 Cup races held at Indy.
Winner - Jeff Gordon
2nd Place - Kyle Busch
3rd Place - Mark Martin
4th Place - Tony Stewart
5th Place - Matt Kenseth
6th Place - Clint Bowyer
Lock of the Week - Tony Stewart
Sleeper Pick - Juan Pablo Montoya
Steer Clear of - Greg Biffle
Video Footage of the 2007 Allstate 400: