Any race driver will tell you it is special to win any race, any time, on any track.
Winning today’s Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be “extra special” for some of the drivers.
ESPN will carry the race that is scheduled to begin at 1:20 p.m.
Jimmie Johnson has won the last two races and would join the list of four-time race winners at Indianapolis. He would be the first of them to win three races in a row on the oval layout at IMS.
Two of the four-time winners at Indy are Jeff Gordon, the only driver to win the Brickyard 400 times, and Rick Mears, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times.
Johnson says Mears was one of his idols as a kid growing up in Southern California.
He started 16th in winning the race a year ago and says he hopes to take advantage of starting second today.
“Where we’re starting we have the luxury of good air. Hopefully, we can lead in the best situation. The first goal is to not screw up and be mired in traffic and we need to have clean pit stops, no mistakes on the track,” he said.
“So the goal is to not screw up … and stay up there in the top two and ideally leading the race. Especially from the last pit stop on to the finish,” said the three-time champ.
Juan Pablo Montoya is on the pole and would be the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. He dominated the 2009 race until being hit with a penalty and finishing 11th.
“I want to win. We’ve got to see what happens. If somebody has a better car and they have a better pit stop or pass us, they deserve to win. It’s freakin’ 400 miles; it’s not like it is a three-lap shootout,” said Montoya about the race.
Odds are heavier against them but either Jacques Villeneuve or Sam Hornish Jr. also would be the first drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. Villeneuve is competing in his first stock car race at Indianapolis after earlier driving in the IndyCar and Formula One events at IMS.
“It’s very pleasing, very special [to be in the race] especially since we didn’t get a lot of laps. It is the first time the team has come here and a new car. And I have not been in a Cup car in over two years,” said Villeneuve.
Car owner Chip Ganassi would make history if Montoya or Jamie McMurray wins since McMurray earlier won the Daytona 500 and Dario Franchitti, one of his IndyCar Series drivers, won the Indianapolis 500.
He would be the first car owner to have his drivers win all three races and the first to have drivers win the Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500.
“It’s a pretty special thing to come back here each year … this is where racing started and where … my career got jump-started. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It is a long day and we have a lot of things to do yet. This is just one step in a long flight of steep stairs for the weekend,” said Ganassi.
McMurray is starting a career-best fourth in the race and would join Johnson as the winner of the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year.
“It would be great to win both races. We’ve got really good cars here. We just have to have a mistake-free day on the driver and pit crew. I led this race with 16 laps to go and dominated this race in 2003 and finished third. It’s about not making any mistakes,” he said.
Jeff Gordon would be the first to win the Brickyard 400 four times and join Michael Schumacher as a five-time winner at the track. He will start eighth.
He is second in the Sprint Cup point totals and earlier this week said it would be “huge” in his bid to win the Cup title and snap a 48-race streak without winning.
“We’re still learning the spoiler a little bit. You should see great racing,” he said.
Kevin Harvick would become a two-time winner of the race. He is the leader in the Cup point totals and winning would be a boost in his bid to win the Cup championship.
He was asked about the keys to winning the race. “Finishing first, going faster than everybody else,” he said with a smile.
“You have to have your car handling good but track position is very important because it is hard to pass. You just have to have a fast car, that is pretty much what is boils down to here,” said Harvick.
And finally it would be extra special since eight of the last 12 Brickyard 400 winners have gone on to win Cup titles. And nine of the top 12 finishers in last year’s race made The Chase.
Usuals (Johnson, Gordon and Stewart) likely to run up front
Any race driver will tell you it is special to win any race, any time, on any track.
- Auto Racing
Doctors tell Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti he can no longer race
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti said Thursday that doctors have told him he can no longer race because of injuries sustained in an IndyCar crash last month.
Trackside: Burns, Fitzpatrick provide fun moments at Putnamville
In a season that has generated more than its share of down moments for Wabash Valley fans and racers, last Saturday’s “King of non-wing Sprints” program at Lincoln Park Speedway served notice that there are still a few positive storylines to be found in the wild and unpredictable sport of sprint-car racing.
One such storyline unfolded this past weekend on the rough and challenging 5⁄16-mile Putnamville dirt oval. That’s where the runs of Eric Burns and Blake Fitzpatrick sent fans home feeling that if the season has to come to a close, it couldn’t end on a happier or brighter note.
Coons Jr. wins USAC Tony Hulman/Jim Hurtubise Classic at Action Track
For all but one race during its 2013 racing season, the Terre Haute Action Track has taken a beating from Mother Nature.
Trackside: Stewart proves versatility is one of his strongpoints
At a time each summer when stock-car racing takes center stage in the heart of open-wheel racing territory, it was Tony Stewart who emerged the big winner last weekend.
No, not Tony Stewart the race driver but Tony Stewart the owner. He’s the undisputed leader on two racing fronts — the car owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with Ryan Newman as his driver and the owner-operator of Eldora Speedway. The popular Indiana native posted impressive showings in both ventures.
Precipitation has been unkind to Action Track in 2013
Bob Sargent has seen it all and done it all in 30 years of motorsports track promotion. The Terre Haute Action Track promoter isn’t going to be fazed by much, but even he had to admit there is one thing that has sent a shiver down his spine in 2013.
The weather forecasts. He was asked if watching the weather has given him anxiety in a wet year.
“Sometimes,” Sargent chuckled. “But doing it this long, it becomes normal. I don’t if it’s nervousness so much as it’s frustrating. Rain is a big letdown.”
Trackside: Sprint Week is fun week for USAC fans
With three rounds down and four to go, the 2013 version of Indiana Sprint Week is ready to take center stage at the Terre Haute Action Track tonight — weather permitting, of course.
It’s hard not to mention the elements when talking racing at the Action Track this season.
Race organizers Reece O’Connor and Bob Sargent have felt the sting of Mother Nature worse than most Midwest promoters this spring and summer with all five of their scheduled shows washed out.
Track opener is facing another iffy forecast
Two of the biggest challenges facing race organizers are the constant bouts with the always unpredictable ways of the weather and trying to please the insatiable appetites of a fickle fan base.
TRACKSIDE: Crossroads Dragway hoping to build off big event
It was a day of firsts at Crossroads Dragway this past weekend.
No, not because the sun actually made its first all-day appearance of the season at the drag-racing facility, but for the unveiling of a new racing format that just might alter the looks of 1/8-mile member track NHRA bracket racing.
Metro roundup: For 2nd time, Hulman Classic postponed
Qualifying laps had concluded for the 43rd running of the Tony Hulman Classic on Friday when the weather struck for the third time this season — second time for the Classic — at the Terre Haute Action Track.
Hulman Classic on Friday at Action Track
With rainouts having postponed his only two Terre Haute Action Track cards so far in 2013, promoter Bob Sargent remains optimistic about the rescheduled Tony Hulman Classic for U.S. Auto Club sprint cars taking place Friday night.
Finding best talent the key to all sports, including auto racing
The success of any sporting franchise often rests with the ability of owners to find and mold talent into a winning combination.
Kanaan can: Tony Kanaan finally wins Indy 500, ends heartbreak
Tony Kanaan had been so close so many times in the Indianapolis 500 until Sunday. Now he’s a winner.
Crowd, competitors erupt in celebration for Brazilian driver
Tony Kanaan has always been philosophical about his not winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Rookies fare well in 97th running of the Indy 500
Rookies did real well in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Top guns, again
For the sixth time in his Indy career Friday, three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves won the Pit Stop Challenge on Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Looking for Indy breakthrough, Kanaan enjoying role as team mentor
Ask any IZOD IndyCar series champion and he’d say he would gladly give up that championship to win one Indianapolis 500.
TRACKSIDE: Local drivers, owners looking to have strong night at Tony Hulman Classic
In its rich 43-year history, the Tony Hulman Sprint Car Classic has long carried on a strong local racing tradition.
From its early beginnings starting in 1971, the U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned event has been the annual centerpiece of the racing calendar at the Terre Haute Action Track as well as a key stop on the USAC sprint schedule and one of the most sought after wins in big league sprint-car racing.
Carpenter arrives as Indy 500 threat
And the crowd went wild.
Not only did Ed Carpenter win the pole for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500, he is the hometown son. Carpenter, the stepson of Tony George, completed his rookie orientation in 2004 and has spent the last several years, proving he deserved to be the IZOD IndyCar Series. There is no questioning his credentials now.
Carpenter wins Indy 500 pole
Ed Carpenter is on the pole for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The native of Marshall, Ill., earned the No. 1 spot for the May 26 race with a strong run in the Fast Nine competition at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. He is the first American driver on the pole since 2006.
TRACKSIDE: Rain still a pain for Wabash Valley racing organizers
Soggy weather conditions, which have rightfully drawn the ire of Wabash Valley race fans and crews in recent days, continue to plague promoters where it hurts the most — their pocketbooks.
TRACKSIDE: Tough to rise from sprint-car racing, especially in challenging financial times
Open-wheel sprint-car racing, whether it be at the national or local level, has earned a reputation over the years of generating its share of thrills and excitement for its fans and a valuable training ground for drivers seeking to hone their skills that someday might elevate them to the “major leagues” of their sport.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose baseball wins another thriller
Rose-Hulman earned its third victory in its last at-bat in the last five days with a 6-5 win over Franklin in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball Tuesday night at Art Nehf Field.
East gets jump at SUMAR Classic
In his relatively brief but successful racing career, young Bobby East has at times unfairly been labeled as a driver who could master the pavement ovals but one who was still a work in progress on the dirt.
Hurtubise, Sumar races on Action Track slate this weekend
Championship racing is scheduled this weekend at the Terre Haute Action Track with U.S. Auto Club features set for today and Saturday.
One USAC championship will be decided and the spread in the other division could widen or tighten up as a result of the races.
The Jim Hurtubise Classic for sprint cars is today. Only 26 points separate three drivers in the point totals.
TRACKSIDE: Chase Stockon hopes momentum stays with him in Terre Haute
Momentum, an element that can be as elusive to a race driver as that perfect setup, can spell the difference in winning or running at the rear of the pack.
It’s a force difficult to achieve and maybe even harder to maintain. One learns quickly to make the most of the opportunity when it comes his way.
It’s something Chase Stockon will carry with him coming into today’s Jim Hurtubise Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track.
Only days following the biggest victory of his young and promising career, the $10,000-to-win USAC feature at Lawrenceburg, Stockon followed that up with another rich payday this past weekend at Tri-State Speedway.
IndyCar celebrates return to Pocono
IndyCar driver Ed Carpenter had the chance to take a drive around Pocono Raceway, and promptly handed the car keys to racing great Mario Andretti.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rain forces postponement of Jim Hurtubise Classic
Rain and the chance of inclement weather forced postponement of the Jim Hurtubise Classic scheduled for Saturday evening at the Terre Haute Action Track.
METRO ROUNDUP: USAC points leader Levi Jones out for season
Levi Jones, the five-time and reigning United States Auto Club (USAC) National Sprint Car champion, will undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair two herniated discs in his neck. While a full recovery is expected, the 12-week rehabilitation period will not allow for Jones to finish out the 2012 season, where he has competed in the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car and TRAXXAS Silver Crown divisions for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR).
TRACKSIDE: Stockon takes giant step forward in USAC
One of the more impressive and welcomed storylines of the recently completed Indiana Sprint Week was the emergence of area driver Chase Stockon on the national sprint car scene.
JJ joins hero Mears among four-time winners of Brickyard
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Jimmie Johnson is a master at the Brickyard.
- More Auto Racing Headlines
- Doctors tell Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti he can no longer race