Nick Wass/Associated Press
Hendrick Horsepower Translates to Victory
Whether it has been on the big tracks or the small, Hendrick-powered race cars have dominated this season, winning 10-of-20 races (including the All-Star race).
Hendrick-powered Chevrolets filled two of the top-three finishing places (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch) at Pocono, a track that demands a similar setup as Indianapolis.
During a recent teleconference, Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon, who finished eighth at Pocono, compared the two tracks. Hendrick-prepared Chevrolet engines powered half of the top-10 finishers at Pocono.
“That flat, kind of 90-degree turn at Indianapolis with those long straightaways has some characteristics that Pocono has as well and so, yeah, it’s true,” said Gordon. “Typically if you’re good at one you’re going to be good at the other. The key is being good at the right place, and to me the tunnel turn at Pocono is very similar to some of the turns at Indianapolis, even though those four corners (at Indianapolis) look the same, they’re all a little bit different.”
Team Penske the Team to Beat?
When we last saw Brad Keselowski, he was spraying Miller Lite in Victory Lane for the second time in two days at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Michigan native was definitely on a hot streak before the midsummer break. Can he pick up where he left off?
And will his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano shake off a case of the Brickyard Blues? In five tries, the Shell Pennzoil driver has yet to score better than an eighth-place finish (2013).
“We want to win everywhere we go, but the Brickyard does hold more significance with this team than most considering Roger Penske’s legacy at Indy,” said Keselowski, from a pre-race media release.
Penske’s teams have won the Indianapolis 500 a record 15 times.
Larson Making a Statement
Rookie phenom Kyle Larson will be behind the wheel for another racing organization with a stellar history at the Speedway: Chip Ganassi Racing.
Teammate Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 in 2010 driving for team owner Ganassi, and the gregarious owner’s Indy Car teams have won the Indianapolis 500 four times (2000, ’08, ’10, ’12).
The pressure is on for the young man from California as Larson doubles up this weekend, driving in both the Nationwide and Cup races. His self-assured, almost cocky style displays a confidence that has future champion written all over it. If there was ever a time and a place to make a statement, this is it.
Brickyard the Right Place for a Johnson Rebound
No one knows the value of winning the Brickyard 400 more than four-time race winner Jimmie Johnson.
Eight winners of the race have gone on to win the championship that season, and 15 of the 20 races have been won by either past, future or reigning series champions.
Indy has been a track that has been good for the six-time Cup champion (five top-fives, six top-10s and one pole in 12 attempts) and the kind of place where the No. 48 team can bounce back with a vengeance.
“Everyone risks it all for Indianapolis. I’m excited because for a long stretch now we have been able to go there and get it right and be competitive with this Lowe’s team,” said Johnson in a pre-race media release. “I unload there and I understand how to drive the track and I’m able to get us in that window to be competitive.”
Drivers with multiple wins and who cannot fall out of the top 30 in points over the remaining seven races in the regular season have clinched a spot in the Chase, assuming they attempt to qualify for the remaining races.
After the race in New Hampshire, Earnhardt Jr. and Keselowski clinched a spot in the Chase, assuming they attempt to qualify for the remaining seven races. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth have clinched a top-30 spot but do not have multiple wins.
The following drivers can clinch a Chase spot with a win at Indianapolis or by clinching a top-30 spot: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
The magic number for a top-30 clinch: 289. Any driver 289 points ahead of 31st place leaving Indy will clinch a top-30 points position.