It's one of NASCAR's crown jewel, which takes center stage as 43 drivers climb aboard their machines for a chance to kiss the bricks.
The 17th running of the Brickyard 400 isn't about point racing or trying to make the Chase, this is about joining the history books. First and foremost come a couple of drivers that are starting near the front of the field: Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson.
Montoya won the pole, the third of his career, on Saturday morning with a lap of 182.279 around the 2.5 mile track. Montoya is a strong favorite heading into the race where last year he led 116 laps and was well on his way to victory before getting a pit road speeding penalty. He's also a past winner at the track, he was the 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion and is ready for another chance to kiss the bricks.
If Montoya or teammate Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 today it would make Ganassi the only owner to have ever won all three in the same year. He's currently the only one to have won the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same season. McMurray delivered Ganassi a Daytona 500 win in February and two months ago IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500.
However, there are a few more drivers that might have something to say about that.
Starting second will be defending four-time Sprint Cup Series champion, as well as back-to-back Brickyard 400 champion Jimmie Johnson. When Montoya received his speeding penalty last year, Johnson was right there to take advantage, winning his third career Brickyard 400.
Qualifying second has the No. 48 Lowe's team in high spirits as they try to become just the second team to win four times at Indianapolis. Johnson is also tied in bonus points with Denny Hamlin if the Chase were to start today. While he won't be thinking about that during the race, if Johnson were to get his sixth win of the year today it would be another big storyline.
A big storyline that teammate Jeff Gordon has been following is his winless streak, which has now hit 48 races. Gordon has been shut out of victory lane since April of 2009 at Texas, but has been running in championship form much of this season. He comes to the Brickyard as a four-time winner, looking for No. 5.
Gordon says there would be not better place to get his first win of the year than at a track that he loves to race on. He'll start eighth on the grid.
Then there's hometown hero Tony Stewart.
Growing up in Columbus, Indiana, Stewart never thought that he would get the chance to race at Indianapolis in a stock car. Coming from the open wheel ranks he, like Montoya, also had raced in the Indy 500, but never had the opportunity to win it.
In 2005 Stewart came back home and finally got the chance to kiss the bricks, and then did so again in 2007. Entering today's race the driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet is in the same boat as Gordon, he hasn't won a race this season.
However, he's always a contender when it comes to Indy and he'll be ready to party today. Stewart will roll off 15th later today.
For the drivers that won't be contenders today, they will be point racing. Many are still trying to position themselves to make the Chase, while others are trying to maintain their Chase positions. The Brickyard 400 is a long race that will be about nutrition and teams can fall by the wayside.
There will be two important things to keep an eye on today: horsepower and surprises.
There's an old saying around the NASCAR garage, "the fastest car doesn't always win." At Indianapolis that won't be the case, drivers that unload fast will continue to be fast and they'll be the ones to deal with today. Montoya has shown his power all weekend, as has Johnson. Now isn't the time to hold back because passing is hard to do at Indy, drivers will be trying to get everything they can early on.
As for surprises, Indianapolis can make a drivers career. Kevin Harvick pulled off the win in 2003 to formally announce his presence in the sport. In 2005 Kasey Kahne was leading late in the race before Stewart ruined his career. Sometimes all it takes is for one big race for a driver to rise to the top, as McMurray did in Daytona this year.
Will another driver do the same today?
Whomever it may be, the emotion won't be lacking. Indianapolis is sacred ground and all 43 drivers know it. Walking into the speedway brings goosebumps and to win here, it may be the greatest day of their life. The weather is expected to be hot and the track will be slick, however it won't matter.
Be the first to the checkered flag, just like any other weekend. But today if you're the driver that does so, you'll be the one getting the sweetest kiss in sports.
The pre-race activities for the 2010 Brickyard 400 starts at 12:00 p.m. ET. on ESPN, followed by the green flag shortly after 1:00 p.m.
4:19 Jamie McMurray wins the Brickyard 400 in 2010. Becomes third driver to pull off the double: winning the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year.
4:12 There are seven laps remaining as McMurray begins to drive away from Harvick. Biffle close, but not yet able to make a move on Harvick for second spot.
4:09 Biffle gets around Stewart for third and begins to close in on the two leaders. Stewart in danger of losing the fourth spot to Bowyer.
4:08 Restarts occurs with 11 laps to go, Harvick leads McMuray who gets a great restart and takes the lead heading into turn one. Harvick to second, Stewart looks on in third.
4:01 Caution is out as Monotya and Earnhardt Jr. crash hard at the entrance to pit road. Harvick had taken the lead before the caution came out.
4:00 McMurray and Harvick are driving away from Stewart and the field with 16 laps to go.
3:57 Green flag with 19 laps to go. McMurray takes off in turn one and drivers away from Harvick who takes over second place. Stewart, Martin, Kurt Busch, Burton, Biffle follow. Montoya getting passed in traffic.
3:53 Allmendinger will be the leader because he did not come down pit road. On his radio he tells his crew, "I could give a crap about 26th or 28th."
3:51 Back down pit road they come. Stewart gets slight trackbar adjustments and two tires. Bowyer gets an airpressure adjustment and four tires. McMurray gets two tires and Montoya gets four tires. McMurray, Stewart, Harvick, Martin, Kurt Busch, Burton, Montoya, Biffle, Bowyer, and Kyle Busch are the top 10 off pit road.
3:49 Caution flies again for debris, everyone expected back down pit road. Earnhardt Jr. told he'll get "four new skins and free you up just a bit." He's climbed to 13th position.
3:48 Hornish Jr. tells his crew, "I feel bad for whoever has to clean the grill on the front on the front of this car, because I just killed a bird!"
3: 42 Gordon now on pit road with a flat right-rear tire. Also says that the water temperature is going up, he loses a lap.
3:40 Montoya again driving away from the field. Gordon believes he may have a broken splitter brace. Ragan has to make an unscheduled stop and loses a lap to the leaders.
3:36 Stewart finally makes an appearance in the top five for the first time today. Truex Jr. off the pace going down the backstretch, has a hole in the nose of his No. 56 Toyota. Finally back up to speed with 36 laps remaining.
3:34 Restart with 39 laps to go, Montoya leads them down into turn one. Side-by-side with Biffle down the backstretch as McMurray looks on. Finally clears Biffle in turn three, with McMurray following into second place, Bowyer looks on in fourth place.
3:30 Johnson loses a lap on pit road as his Lowe's team goes under the hood to make repairs.
3:27 Leaders are expected to come down pit road. Martin gets a wedge adjustment with his four tires and fuel. Bowyer gets an air pressure adjustment with four tires and fuel. Trackbar and wedge for Biffle with fuel. Montoya keeps the lead. Biffle, McMurray, Bowyer, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin, Stewart, Edwards, Kahne round out the top 10.
3:25 The caution comes out again as there is a chunk of metal out of turn two. Caution appears with 44 laps to go, Montoya still leads Biffle.
3:20 Down to 50 laps to go in the Brickyard 400, not much has changed on the leaderboard.
3:15 There are 55 laps to go as Montoya and Biffle have driven away from the field. McMurray, Bowyer, Harvick, Martin, Kyle Busch, Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, and Burton round out the top 10. Stewart sits in 11th. Gordon is 13th, Earnhardt Jr., is 16th, Johnson is 23rd out of the 23 cars that are on the lead lap.
3:10 Edwards leads before pitting and gets air pressure adjustments to fix the free condition he has been experiencing. Montoya now has the lead over Biffle who isn't far behind him.
3:09 Biffle has a close call when he enters his pit box, but everything is clean. Johnson on pit road now, making major adjustments to get the No. 48 Lowe's machine a chance to win three-straight Brickyard 400 races.
3:07 Pit stops are underway again. Stewart leads them, then comes Montoya, McMurray, Martin, Harvick, Bowyer, Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Gordon, and Kenseth.
3:03 Johnson is going nowhere back in the field, running 23rd. Up front, Montoya has run Biffle down and is waiting for his chance to retake the lead.
3:00 Biffle still racking up the laps led but Montoya isn't letting him get too far away. McMurray runs third, Bowyer, Harvick, Martin, Truex, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Burton in pursuit. There are now 71 laps remaining.
2:55 Biffle leads for Roush-Fenway Racing, who has never won at the Brickyard. RFR is also winless in 2010 and Ford has struggled this season. Can Biffle change all that today in one of the biggest races of the year?
2:53 Kyle Busch has now climbed to the ninth position, behind older brother Kurt who runs eighth. Burton sits behind the two Busch's in the 10th position, while fellow Jeff, Gordon, is 11th after 82 laps.
2:50 Biffle still leads by almost one second over Montoya. Speed just had to make an unscheduled pit stop after contact with Jimmie Johnson cut his right front tire.
2:46 Johnson saves the car when getting loose in turn three, still running 22nd. Regan Smith having a career day in his No. 78 Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet, he runs 19th after 74 laps.
2:43 Biffle keeps the lead on the restart and starts driving away from the teammates of Montoya and McMurray.
2:41 Getting ready for the restart. Johnson is now in the 22nd position after having a long pit stop.
2:36 The field comes down pit road for fuel and adjustments. No adjustments for Martin, Bowyer gets air pressure adjustment, Biffle gets trackbar and air pressure. Montoya gets trackbar adjustments as well. Biffle wins the race off pit road over Montoya, McMurray, Bowyer, and Martin.
2:35 Caution is out. It's a break for Montoya as NASCAR says there are debris in turn two.
2:34 Biffle takes the lead on Montoya.
2:32 Some surprises through the field, first is past Brickyard 400 winner Bill Elliott only running in the 23rd position. Past Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve is running 27th, followed by Hamlin who has won five races this year in 28th, and a darkhorse to some, Allmendinger is only 29th after 62 laps.
2:29 Monotya's lead is shrinking as Biffle closes in as 60 laps have been put on the board. Not much change in the leaderboard.
2:24 Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew are not happy with how their pit stop progressed. After 53 laps Montoya has over a five second lead on Biffle. Rest of the top 10 are: Martin, Bowyer, McMurray, Harvick, Truex Jr., Johnson, Kyle Busch, Burton. Outside the top 10 are: Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Gordon, Kahne, Logano, Menard, Ragan, Edwards, Stewart, and Earnhardt Jr. as the top 20.
2:22 Montoya retakes the lead after pitting earlier. Landon Cassil is running second due to being on a different pit sequence. Biffle, Martin and Boywer round out the top five.
2:20 Biffle pits after leading a few laps. Stewart takes the lead when he pulls off track. Edwards now pitting for tires and fuel. Allmendinger gets service, along with teammate Kahne. Stewart finally heads down pit road.
2:19 Truex Jr. on pit road at lap 48. Kyle Busch also down pit road, slight air pressure adjustment. Martin now heads down, followed by McMurray, Boywer and others. Martin gets no adjustments on this stop. Johnson also in, gets a trackbar adjustment to get the car to roll through the corners. Harvick also in for four tires and fuel. Gordon gets air pressure adjustments after calling his car "junk."
2:17 Pit stops are approaching. McMurray now runs third, Bowyer has overtaken Johnson for fourth. Kyle Busch is up to 11th place, Gordon back to 12th and Earnhardt Jr. up to 14th at 47 laps..
2:13 There are now 41 laps in the books. Martin the leader as Keselowski makes his pit stop. Tire off of Montoya shows that his right-front was torn up. Top five: Martin, Biffle, Johnson, McMurray and Harvick.
2:10 Montoya hits pit road as the leader. He'll take four tires and fuel as Martin becomes the leader.
2:09 Biffle hunting Johnson for the third position. Earnhardt Jr. saying his car is getting neutral as he takes away a position from Stewart. Kenseth sliding back, his ninth right now.
2:06 Kenseth thinks "that something has got to be wrong with this motor." Jeff Gordon also telling his No. 24 team that it's pushing loose, just as it has been all weekend. Kenseth runs sixth and Gordon is 10th.
2:04 Biffle up for fourth place. Kyle Busch continues his rebound from an earlier spin and is running in the 13th position. Hometown favorite Stewart is running in the 18th position. Other notables are Earnhardt Jr. in 19th place.
2: 01 Johnson loses second place to Martin. Montoya now has a two-second lead, however he believes that his right-front tire might be loose.
1: 56 Montoya makes a power move around Johnson to retake the lead. Lots of drivers taking advantage of fresh tires as they are making moves all throughout the field. Top 10 are: Montoya, Johnson, Martin, Kenseth, McMurray, Biffle, Truex Jr., Harvick, Gordon, and Bowyer.
1: 46 The field heads down pit road for their first stops. Johnson wins the race off pit road, followed by Montoya, Martin, and McMurray.
1:44 Lap 16 and the second caution is out. R. Gordon loses a right front tire in a big way, fender all torn off. Max Papis is also off the pace with fire under his No. 13 Geico Toyota.
1:42 Brad Keselowski another driver on pit road for overheating. Only lap 14 and it looks as though that might be the story of the day. Reminiscent of 2008 when it was all about the failure of tires. Robby Gordon on pit road on the same lap, he too is overheating.
1:41 Denny Hamlin down pit road on lap 12, he too was running hot. Same for AJ Allmendinger.
1:40 Carl Edwards also heads down pit road, reporting that he was running too hot. Newman comes back down pit road with the same tire flat, appears that the quarter panel rubbed the tire flat.
1:38 Lap 10, Newman heads to pit road with a flat left rear tire. Will lost one lap if not more...
1:36 Sam Hornish Jr. penalized for speeding on pit road. Race restarts on lap eight as Montoya again gets the jump on Johnson into turn one. Martin falls into third place followed by McMurray and Greg Biffle moves into fifth place.
1:22 Lap one and first caution of the day. Sam Hornish, David Reutimann, and Kyle Busch go spinning off turn two. Reed Sorenson also involved as is Elliott Sadler. The cars with damage are Reutimann, Sorenson, Sadler, and Hornish. Busch seems to be ok.
1: 21 Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson lead the field to the green flag for the 17th annual Brickyard 400. Montoya takes the lead in turn one, Johnson holds off Mark Martin for third.
1:08 Mari Hulman George gives the command to start engines, she's Chairmen of the Board at Indianapolis. Cars will begin rolling off the grid for their pace laps shortly.
1:03 The invocation and National Anthem are complete. Drivers are climbing aboard their machines for 160 laps, 400 miles around the Brickyard. The command to start engines is next.
1:00 Two drivers will drop to the rear of the field when the green flag flies: the No. 20 of Joey Logano and the No. 64 of Todd Bodine. Both changed engines.
12:30 NASCAR announces that because of overnight rain at Indianapolis, there will be a competition caution at lap 15. This will allow teams to come down pit road, if they choose, to get a first look at tire wear and get a handle on any changes the car may have experienced from the weather change.12:00 ESPN's pre-race show has begun. The sky is overcast and the weather is breezy, as 43 cars sit on pit road before the command to start engines. Drivers have already gone through the mandatory drivers meeting and will spend the next hour with their team going through their race day strategy.
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