Mid-Pack: Samuel Deeds 400Thursday, July 25, 2013
Track history: Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a 2.5-mile semi-banked oval with 9-degree banking in all four turns. The lengths of the flat front and backstretches are 5/8-mile each and the short chutes are each a 1/8th-mile. The track is almost a perfect rectangle due to the confines of the property that was available at the time. It was built as a test facility for the growing car industry and was paved with 3.2 million bricks in 1909. The Brickyard has hosted the Indianapolis 500 since 1911. When the track began to get worn around 1935, asphalt was applied to the rougher areas. By 1941, the main straightaway was the only bricked portion remaining. In 1961, except for the “yard of bricks” at the start/finish line, the entire track was blacktop. When NASCAR announced it was coming to Indy over a million fans applied for the 300,000 tickets to the inaugural event.
Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners: Jimmie Johnson 7/29/12, Paul Menard 7/31/11, Jamie McMurray 7/25/10, Jimmie Johnson 7/26/09 and Jimmie Johnson.
First Cup start at this track (Active): None
First Cup pole at this track (Active): Reed Sorenson 7/29/07.
First Cup win at this track (Active): Paul Menard 7/31/11.
August 6, 1994: The first 400-mile NASCAR Cup race at Indy was the 1994 Brickyard 400. Rick Mast qualified on the pole with a lap of 172.414 mph in the No. 1 Skoal Racing Ford. Jeff Gordon drove the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet from third in the lineup to the win with a race speed of 131.977 mph. It was the first of four Indy Cup wins for Gordon. Mast finished 22nd.
July 29, 2012: Jimmie Johnson won the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at The Brickyard, his 58th victory in 383 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This was the No. 48 Chevrolet driver's third victory and 15th top-10 finish in 2012. It was his fourth victory and fifth top-10 finish in 11 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 2 Brad Keselowski 22 laps, finished ninth; Pole-sitter No. 11 Denny Hamlin 27 laps, finished sixth and Race-winner Johnson led the most laps (99 of 160).
Fantasy games won’t allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 20 finish as track favorites Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. There were 45 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 in Speedway, Indiana.
Over the last seven Sprint Cup races at The Brickyard, Mark Martin has scored the most driver championship points. In the last eight races at the track, NASCAR Statistics shows his 9.5 average running position is tops of all drivers entered this week. He spent the most time running in the top 15 (1067 laps – 83.4%) in those eight races at IMS. Martin also ranked third (behind favorites Gordon and Stewart) in the Quality Passes category; passed 220 cars while running in the top 15 under green flag conditions. His overall average finish for 19 starts here is a respectable 12.8. With worst results of three 11th place finishes since 2004, and a best of 2nd from the pole in 2009, we think the No. 55 Toyota Camry driver will be a strong contender at Indy on Sunday.
In 2007, Juan Pablo Montoya became the first driver to compete in all three major events at the Indianapolis; the Indianapolis 500 (won it in 2000), the United States Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400. He started second in his first trip around IMS in a stock car, ran in the top-15 for the entire 160-lap event and brought home a second-place finish. He started 2nd in 2009, led all but 10 of the first 126 laps, was out front by as much as 5.5 seconds at one point but got caught speeding in the pits (managed an 11th place). No one led more laps in the last six races at IMS than Montoya but four of those races ended with finishes outside the top 20. He seems to have calmed down in his "wreckers or checkers" style over the past couple of years. That being said we're taking a gamble on the No. 42 Chevrolet SS for a top 20 this week.
Ryan Newman has a winning history with a No. 39 car from his USAC racing days. The Indiana native drove his No. 39 Midget car to a 1997 win at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Indiana the day before that year’s Indianapolis 500. In the Sprint Cup Series, he carries an average finish of 19.1 in 12 starts at The Brickyard. In four starts driving his current No. 39 car, he improved that to a 12.5 average finish. Two weeks ago, Newman was credited with a 39th place finish (accident) but had finishes of 18th or better in five prior Cup races. We're expecting to see the No. 39 Chevrolet finish somewhere in that range again Sunday afternoon.
AJ Allmendinger has a limited history at Indy in the Sprint Cup Series. In four starts he has a best finish of 10th (2008), worst of 22nd (2011) and a 17.0 average. In the 2008 race, his first, he was one of the few drivers who avoided the tire "disaster". That was the race NASCAR had to throw competition cautions every 10-12 laps because tires were blowing up if the cars ran any longer than 15 laps. AJ drove from 26th at the green and spent 130 of the 160-lap race running in the top 15. Roger Penske showed confidence in his ability by entering him in the 2013 Indy 500. Allmendinger started fifth, led 23 of the 200 laps and finished in seventh place. The experience in the IZOD IndyCar race will not transfer to Sunday's event but, based on his short Cup career at the track, we think the No. 51 Chevrolet SS driver is still capable of a top 20 or better.