The boys of NASCAR are out ripping again after a week off, and thank goodness. What a terrible week it was last week without the elite stock car drivers in the world going at it.
This week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway gives fans everywhere an extra bump in adrenaline for the week off, because they have four practice sessions along with an early morning qualifying session on Saturday.
On Friday, the Cup series ran two of its practice sessions at Motor Sports’ ultimate racing facility, which has been in existence since 1909. In the first practice round, many of the drivers came out with their race trim on, which could be helpful in determining who will run well in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
Because they still had an extra session on Friday before Saturday’s qualifying, most teams went all out with an early game plan of accumulating as much information as possible prior to Friday’s final session, which most reserved for Qualifying trim setup.
In the first session, the most impressive of all the drivers was Juan Pablo Montoya, who was sporting a retro paint scheme reminiscent of his 2000 Indy 500 win with Target on the side of his car splashed with a yellow swoop on the side.
Montoya ran the second-fastest lap overall in the session while running 18 laps. Montoya stands out early because he was fast throughout, and then just as good in the charts following the second run while in qualifying trim.
Greg Biffle was the first sessions leader in time, but he did it with qualifying trim on the last of his seven laps run. In the second practice session, Biffle was 23rd quickest when most of the drivers were in qualifying trim.
Mark Martin was fastest in the second practice session, which should make him a top candidate to win the pole position on Saturday. Martin ran only five laps in the final session, got the best time on lap five, and took the car to the garage to rest for Saturday.
Ryan Newman was very impressive during the first run, as he settled in with the fifth-fastest run while taking in 23 laps. The combination of quality a Pocono run last month, which is a similar set-up, and Newman being from Indiana make him a nice choice early on to contend for Sunday’s checkers.
Friday’s session was more a practice for qualifying than anything, but there were a lot of things that came out of both sessions that could be telling for the race on Sunday.
Montoya stands out above all drivers as one who is doing better in times during race trim than what was expected.
The top drivers expected to do well coming into this weekend were Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Ryan Newman. Saturday’s two sessions will further divulge who will be good on Sunday. See you then!
Friday's First Practice Speeds
No. 5: Martin 180.643
No. 42: Montoya 180.151
No. 9: Kahne 179.860
No. 29: Harvick 179.727
No. 43: Sorenson 179.716
Slowest: No. 75 Cope 170.338 and No. 8: Labonte 172.236
Friday's Second Practice Speeds
No. 16 Biffle 177.075
No. 42 Montoya 176.630
No. 21 Elliott 176.547
No. 83 Vickers 176.481
No. 39 Newman 176.187
Slowest: No. 75 Cope 167.202 and No. 34 Andretti 169.584
No speed listed: No. 8 Labonte
Incident: No. 48 Johnson scraped the wall and did very minor damage to the No. 48.