News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 31, 2011

Sprint Summer Showdown begins at Indianapolis

Tom Reck
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — The Sprint Summer Showdown begins today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Brickyard 400 for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers is the first of five races in the new event that will culminate with the AdvoCare 500 in Atlanta.

Drivers who win the five races in the event will be eligible to win $3 Million by winning in Atlanta. He’ll win $1 million if he does it, $1 million for a favorite charity and $1 million for some lucky fan.

Dale Earnhart Jr. likes it. “It was pretty cool back when it was the Winston Million. It was very exciting and I was fortunate to win it,” he said.

Junior got off to a good start this season but has had five consecutive finishes of 15th or worse. He will start 22nd in today’s race.

Kurt Busch doesn’t think the Showdown takes away from the Sprint All-Star Race.

“The All-Star Race has its own prestigious value. It’s going to be interesting how Atlanta works out because it is a tough 500-mile race and it could come down to a fresh set of tires with eight laps to go,” he said.

He drives for Penske Racing and Roger Penske is looking for his first NASCAR victory at Indianapolis where he has been so successful in IndyCar races. “Winning for Roger would be that much more special,” he said.

Super Weekend set — Tickets go on sale this week for next year’s race to be run July 29 as part of The Super Weekend at The Brickyard, sponsored by Crown Royal.

A Nationwide Series race was run at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday where it was run before the first Brickyard 400. It will be part of the IMS schedule next year and will be run July 28.

Two Grand-Am Road Racing Series events also are on the card and will be run July 27 on the road course at the track.

Ticket prices in the penhouse and deck sections in the E&B Penthouse for the 2012 race have been reduced from $165 to $150 and fans may buy a general-admission ticket for $80. That has open seating the first two days, limited general-admission seating on the third day and general-admission access on race day.

Pit passes — Four drivers have competed in all 17 Brickyard races at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte.

Gordon has finished in the top eight in 13 of his 17 starts, while Martin has been in the top nine in 10 races.

Hoosier Tony Stewart has been in 12 races and finished in the top eight eight times.

• Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s soccer team, will be the honorary driver of the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport pace car.

• Matt Kenseth will start ninth today and will seek his 200th top-10 finish in the race.