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Virtual Pit Reporter: News on 25 Cup teams

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1) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Gordon has already achieved legendary status at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- he's the only four-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. He also has seven top-fives and 10 top-10s in 13 Brickyards and an average finish of 9.3 despite his 16th-place finish last season. He has led nine of the 13 races for 433 laps. A record fifth win at the Brickyard could give Gordon an advantage for his fifth Cup championship; six Brickyard 400 champions have proceeded to win the title in the same year. Gordon, who won the inaugural stock-car race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994, also won the Brickyard 400 in his championship seasons of 1998 and 2001. His other victory came in 2004. "It's just coincidence, but I do think the strong teams run well here," Gordon said. "Winning or losing this weekend does not mean you will win or lose the championship. This track has long straightaways and flat corners. The four corners look the same but are totally different from one another. It takes horsepower, aerodynamics, a good setup and a driver that can really hit his marks and give good information back to the team. To me, it takes a great team overall to win here. That's the common denominator. I feel like the team is strong, so we're certainly optimistic heading into the race. But that doesn't guarantee anything." If Gordon does get his fifth win at the Speedway, he won't be the first to do so -- former Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher got his fifth U.S. Grand Prix win last year. "I have four wins here -- four of the most amazing wins of my career," Gordon said. "Anytime you win at Indy, whether it's your first win or your fourth, is incredible. I witnessed Schumacher's fifth win and knew the comparisons would begin. But I don't even compare what we've done in a stock car to what Mears, Unser and Foyt did. Those guys are legends here."
  • Last race: Gordon finished ninth at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: One of the most important days of the season for Gordon comes on Thursday as he stages his annual benefit for a cause that is close to his heart -- his annual bowling tournament for The Jeff Gordon Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children. "This weekend also gives me the opportunity to see friends I grew up with that I haven't seen in awhile," said Gordon, who spent his formative racing years in nearby Pittsboro, Ind.

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    2) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Hamlin finished 10th at the Brickyard last year in his only start at the famed Speedway. "Last year we went right to Indy off our second win at Pocono with a car that was really good, a car that had dominated twice on a track that shares some characteristics with Indy," Hamlin recalled. "We were fast all weekend, and in the race we were right there with the best cars -- maybe even the best there. The engine was missing back on the throttle, so even though we were rolling the center really good, probably better than anyone, I couldn't carry that speed off the turn the way I needed to because we went down a cylinder. I think we had a really good shot at winning. This is only my second time running at Indy, but I am well aware of the history and prestige that comes with racing at IMS. Indy is a lot like Daytona because winning means so much at those places that it almost lives outside of the schedule and points and thinking about the Chase. For me, winning at Richmond, in my hometown, is my dream just like winning at Indy was for Tony Stewart before he won here, but a win here is something every team wants. I figure if I ever need extra motivation I can just talk to Tony or (crew chief) Mike Ford." ... Hamlin said it takes a special approach to race at the historic venue because of its characteristics. "Indy is a flat track, and that usually brings out the best in this team, so we see this weekend as a huge opportunity," Hamlin said. "I think I am at my best on flat tracks because it's where I have the most experience and I can really feel what the car is doing and then share that with Mike (Ford) and the crew. At Indy, you are wide open down the stretches so you need horsepower, but where you really pick up time and momentum is coming off of two and four and on to the long straights. You are on the gas in short chutes so if you can roll through those turns, keep your momentum and pick up the throttle quickly on the straight you'll be in good shape. It's a combination of lifting and using just the right amount of brake. Indy keeps everyone, driver and crew the same, on our toes."
  • Last race: Hamlin finished 17th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: While the Indianapolis race is one of the biggest of the season, Hamlin is already focused on the "Race to the Chase." "We are in pretty good shape, but we still feel the need to go out and win races because that win bonus will be really important when the Chase rolls around," Hamlin said. "Last season at this point we were right on the bubble of making the Chase, but we were just hitting our stride. We were able to put a run of top-10 finishes together right up to the Chase and then (that) carried us through to the end -- a lot like what Tony (Stewart) did in 2005. The upcoming schedule suits us well because of the tracks we go to and our results at those tracks. We want to put together a similar stretch of races to last season and hopefully improve enough to have a shot at a championship this season."

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    3) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Kenseth, who finished second at the Brickyard last year, has four top-fives there for an average finish of 13.7. He has led three of seven races at the Brickyard for 28 laps. "Indy ranks right at the top, or close to the top, on races you'd like to win in your career," Kenseth said. "I think everyone wants to win the Daytona 500; that's the biggest one you want to win. But, certainly, the Brickyard is right there with it. We've been close a few times and we've been real competitive. Actually a couple of times we've been there we've had some problems, but we've always ran pretty good. I always feel like we'll have a shot when we go there, and it's certainly one we'd like to pull off. Indy is different than any other track we go to because it's four 90-degree corners instead of two basically 180-degree corners, so that makes it a lot different. It's definitely narrow and very difficult to run side by side, and yet it's not difficult to pass. If you got your car where it's loose enough, then you can do some passing. It's a lot of fun. It's actually a very challenging track, even when you're by yourself -- to get that little bit of extra speed out of it is real difficult at Indy. You've got to have it pretty 'hung out' to be able to run fast, which makes it a lot of fun as a driver."
  • Last race: Kenseth is coming off a runner-up finish at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Kenseth is driving the same car -- RK-385 -- that led nine laps and finished second at the Brickyard last year. The car's last race was last October at Kansas, where it finished 23rd.

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    4) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Burton has one top-five, two top-10s, one pole and an average finish of 19.2 in 13 trips to the Brickyard. He finished 15th at Indy last year and has led four races there for 113 laps. "There is nowhere we go where you get the sense of people like you do at Indy with the grandstands on both sides of the front straightaway," Burton said. "When you walk out on Sunday afternoon to start that race, it's like nothing else. The drivers' introductions there are pretty cool. It's amazing to see that many people, and the excitement at Indy is cool. It's an open-wheel sacred-ground race track, and the fact that we can go there and race is truly an honor. ... Momentum is everything at Indy. It's all about carrying speed through the middle of the corner so that you can be fast off the corner. Indy's corners are different from any other we have in racing, really, as far as the way we race. They're shorter and there's less corner. The track is perfectly smooth, and you have to have really good grip to take advantage of that smoothness. If you are a little bit slow in the middle of the corner, it just carries that speed onto the exit of the corner. So it's very important to handle in all parts of the corners at Indy. You can't just handle well getting in or getting off, it has to be good in all parts of the corners."
  • Last race: Burton finished seventh at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Burton is fourth in the point standings with seven races to go before the cut-off for the Chase. "We, by no means, feel like we are definitely in the Chase," he said. "We have a lot of work to do. It's not uncommon for teams to go through a stretch of several bad races. We had three races in a row where we finished bad, and so did the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) team. It can certainly happen to anybody. There's not a lot of wiggle room. Those guys sitting 13th, 14th and 15th in points are pretty good teams as well. We know they are going to be applying pressure and pushing the issue and we have to do the same thing. We can't get complacent. We have to stay focused and go out and do the best we can every week."

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    5) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Edwards' ninth-place finish last year was his only top-10 in two races at Indy. "There's so much history at that track, it would certainly mean a lot to run well and win there," said Edwards, who will also run the Busch race at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday night. Crew chief Bob Osborne will try to develop a flat-track car for Edwards that can make him a contender at the Brickyard. "The setup for Indy is unlike most setups," Osborne said. "With the long front and back stretches and overall length of 2.5 miles, it's classified as a superspeedway. But it only has nine degrees of banking in the corners, and that shallow banking is a characteristic of the flat track like Loudon and Martinsville. We'll need a good aero package as well as a good flat-track setup, which will be challenging."
  • Last race: Edwards finished sixth in the Busch race Saturday night at Gateway. He finished third at Chicagoland in the last Cup race.
  • Etc.: Edwards looks to pad his lead in the Busch Series in Saturday night's battle at O'Reilly. "O'Reilly Raceway Park is an awesome short track that I really want to run well at," he said. "The last couple years we have had a couple of rough races there and didn't come out of there with the finishes we wanted. I have won at ORP in the Craftsman Truck Series, but I would really like to get a win in our Busch car."

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    6) Tony Stewart, No. 20 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Indiana's native son has one win, three top-fives, five top-10s, one pole and an average finish of 8.4 at his favorite race track, Indy. He has led four of eight NASCAR races for 150 laps and finished eighth there last year. "It's my home race, obviously," Stewart said. "Growing up in Indiana and every year watching the Indy 500 and the whole month of May leading up to it, a race at the Brickyard is more than just a regular points race. It's always been a big race to all of the Cup drivers, but then when you grow up in Indiana, it just makes it that much more important. Now that I've won here, it's a lot more enjoyable. Especially all the years before we won, that was the most frustrating part of going to Indy. It was increasingly more frustrating each year that went by before we won."
  • Last race: Stewart broke into the win column for the first time this season at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Stewart's first memory of going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was many years ago when he was just a small boy. "I came with my father," he recalled. "We were in some bus that had a luggage rack in the top of it. You had to get up at 0-dark-30 to get on the bus to ride up to Indy for race day. They threw me up in the luggage rack. Somebody gave me a pillow and everybody started throwing their jackets on top of me to keep me warm. The ride home wasn't nearly as cool, because after a long day at the track, everybody but my dad and I were kind of rowdy. I was probably five years old. We sat in turns three and four. We were two rows up, right in the middle of the short chute. The hard thing was you could hardly see anything. The cars were so fast. They were a blur. But to see those cars under caution and smell the methanol fumes and everything, it was still pretty cool."

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    7) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Johnson is back to defend his victory in last year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. He has one win, two top-10s and an average finish of 20.4 at Indy. Last year was the first time he led the race there; he was in front for 33 laps. "I'm excited to go back," Johnson said. "It's the first time I've ever been excited to go back to Indy. I've always struggled there. And after our victory last year, I'm really pumped up to go back. It was very special to do it and to be in the category of guys who have won both Indy and the championship. I look back at last year and the All-Star race and Daytona 500. It was just an awesome year with all the big events being taken down by the No. 48. I hope we can go back and get the Brickyard trophy again. It was a great experience and it really got our team fired up. I think it's more of the high you ride after winning a major event. You win the Daytona 500, I'm sure you've seen through time that that team is on cloud nine for a while. It's the same for the All-Star Race and the Brickyard. With the Brickyard being as late as it is in the season, that momentum and that confidence that it brings you can help carry you into the Chase and to the championship."
  • Last race: Johnson's 37th-place finish at Chicagoland dropped him to seventh in the standings.
  • Etc.: Johnson was asked what the feeling will be like when he drives through the gates at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowing that he is the reigning champion at the Brickyard. "I'm not sure I'll really think of it because every year you've got to focus on that event and the challenges that you have there," he said. "Without our crew chief (Chad Knaus) it's going to be tough. It's a tough race track in general. I'll be more concerned about the qualifying session and the race session and the things coming up that weekend more than anything. I'm sure at some point I'll kind of look around and take in the fact that we've won there and how amazing that is, but I'm pretty sure my mind will be focused on what we need to do."

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    8) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: The 2003 Brickyard winner has three top-fives, four top-10s and one pole in six races at the Speedway. He has an average finish of 7.8, has led three of six races for 69 laps and finished third last year. "Winning at Indy ranks right up there with winning the Daytona 500," Harvick said. "I grew up an open-wheel fan and a huge fan of Rick Mears and always wanted to race in the Indy 500. Winning at Indianapolis was pretty special, and every time we go there it's just the history and the mystique of the whole race track that I enjoy. You've got the old grandstand and covers -- just everything about Indy is just neat for everybody. Track position is really important. Obviously, you have to have the whole package. You need horsepower, you need your car to handle good and you have to put yourself in the right position with 25 or 30 laps to go. You also have to capitalize on the last pit stop and be able to have good track position at the end of the race to have a chance to win."
  • Last race: Harvick finished fourth at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: As part of a promotion for the Watkins Glen race, scheduled for Aug. 12, Harvick planned to stop by the Buffalo Bills' first preseason practice session Thursday in Pittsford, N.Y.

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    9) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Busch's seventh-place finish last year was his second top-10 in as many races at Indy. His average finish is 8.5, and he has led one of his two races for eight laps. "Last year, we could have had a better run and we were struggling a little," Busch recalled. "Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a great call for me to stay out on the track late in the race. I led a little but was a sitting duck. All the guys behind me had fresh tires. We finished seventh with a 30th-place car. It's all about the finishes. This year I think we will be way better and maybe race our way to a top-five or a win. Some guys put so much emphasis on this race, and it kind of puts added pressure on you as a driver. If you can put all that aside, you can race the track and not worry about the trophy. Jeff Gordon has won there four times, and it's because he races the track. He's been there at the end. The configuration (of the track) is so different than any other place we race at that it truly is a driver's track. Hendrick Motorsports puts a lot of emphasis on this race because you need so much motor to get down the long straightaways. It's a total team effort, and I believe we can win it."
  • Last race: Busch was 13th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: As the most recent winner on the old pavement, Busch participated in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series tests this week at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch took full advantage of the testing time to get accustomed to the brand new concrete surface at the world's fastest half-mile. He will enter all three series events there in August.

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    10) Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
  • This week: Bowyer finished fourth last season in his first Indy start after just missing out on winning the pole. "Indianapolis is certainly one those race tracks that you always dream about racing at when you're growing up," Bowyer said. "I'm pretty lucky that my first time out at Indy was a memorable experience. Starting on the front row was really cool. ... It was pretty cool coming down the front straightaway to take the green flag for the first time with all those people on either side of you. It still gives me goose bumps when I think about it. The biggest thing for me was just coming down to get the green and seeing that funnel of people. You can't help but to pay attention. They're on both sides of you as far as you can see and then you get all the way down into turn one and it looks like you're going to run right into the grandstand because the corner is so tight it looks like the people are right there and it feels like you're going to hit them head on. You have to get your car to turn across the center of the corner with a lot of grip and be able to get back to the throttle quick. The car has to be free. If you're tight, you're going backward in a hurry. Indianapolis is a big downforce track. You need big horsepower and have to be able to get through the corners. You can have all the motor in the world to get you down those long straightaways, but the corners are tight and if you can't get through the corners well, they'll go right by you."
  • Last race: Bowyer is coming off a 10th-place finish at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Scott Wimmer will attempt to qualify for his first Nextel Cup Series race of the season this weekend when he drives the No. 33 Holiday Inn Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS at Indy, giving RCR four entries in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Wimmer was behind the wheel of the No. 33 last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he started 24th and finished 12th.

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    11) Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: Although he hasn't finished better than 19th in two starts at Indy, Truex is optimistic about this weekend since he will be in the same car that he drove to third place at Pocono and second at Michigan earlier this season. "We know it's a good car," said Truex, who is only 83 points out of the top 10.
  • Last race: Truex was stopped by engine failure at Chicagoland and finished 39th.
  • Etc.: Truex said he is glad Indy is the next race on the schedule. "There is always a bunch of pressure to do well there simply because it's the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Truex. "When you add the fact that we're getting closer to the cutoff date for the Chase, it just makes racing there that much more intense."

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    12) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, DEI
  • This week: A late race gamble not to pit enabled Earnhardt to finish sixth last year at Indy, his best finish in seven starts at the track. Earnhardt knows he needs another top-10 performance this weekend to maintain his hold on the 12th spot in the standings -- his edge over Ryan Newman is only 30 points. "I'm confident we'll be strong each week," said Earnhardt. "I have a lot of confidence in my team that we'll make it (qualify for the Chase)."
  • Last race: Earnhardt fell to a 19th-place finish at Chicagoland because of power steering problems.
  • Etc.: Earnhardt said he "loves and appreciates the history (of Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and the size of the place -- physically and symbolically. I think I'd appreciate it a lot more if I were to win. I know it meant a lot to my dad to win the Brickyard, and I'd like to do the same."

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    13) Ryan Newman, No. 12 Dodge, Penske Racing
  • This week: In six starts at his home track, Newman has scored only one top-10 finish, a fourth in 2002. He will be driving a car that hasn't been raced since April 2006. "Being from Indiana (South Bend), it would be nice to get a win at the Brickyard," said Newman. "Indianapolis is one of the biggest races of the year for Cup drivers. It ranks right up there with Daytona and Charlotte."
  • Last race: Newman was eighth at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Newman, an engineering grad, is being featured in a television public service announcement promoting SAE International's "A World in Motion," an award-winning educational program that focuses on the study of math and science for students in grades 1 through 12.

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    14) Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing
  • This week: Busch has posted three top-10 finishes in six starts at Indy. This weekend he will be racing the chassis that debuted last fall at Phoenix, where Busch finished eighth. "We've taken that car and completely overhauled it with a new body and all," said crew chief Pat Tryson. "We've put all the aero tweaks necessary for Indy and think we'll have a really good package for Kurt to go after the win."
  • Last race: Busch rallied to a sixth-place finish at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Busch will be seeking his third straight top-10 finish this weekend in his bid to move into the top 12. He has pulled within 77 points of 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. "We're coming into Indy with both short-range and long-term goals," said Busch. "We'd love to be able to get Roger (Penske, car owner) that first NASCAR Indy win, while we're looking to keep on the competitive roll we've been enjoying over the last few races."

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    15) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: McMurray finished in the top 10 in his first two races at Indy, but he has struggled the last two years with finishes of 17th and 26th. He knows he needs another top-10 run this weekend to boost his chances of being a title contender in 2007.
  • Last race: After a 38th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway, McMurray and the entire team were glad they had a weekend off to put that race "behind them." Adds crew chief Larry Carter, "I know the guys are disappointed in last week's run, but we have to put that behind us and look forward to the upcoming races we have on our plate."
  • Etc.: McMurray believes "this is a good stretch of tracks coming up that I feel we are going to run really well at. We have Indy this weekend, then Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol and Fontana. A lot of those are some of my favorite places to race and places we ran well at the first time we visited them earlier this season."

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    16) Greg Biffle, No. 21 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Biffle, who has one top-10 finish in four starts at Indy, will be driving a new car. "The team said it had excellent wind tunnel numbers, so I'm ready to get in it for practice on Friday," said Biffle, who is 185 points out of 12th.
  • Last race: Biffle was 11th at Chicagoland to move closer to the top 12 in the standings. "I'm looking forward to racing at Indy this weekend and working with the guys to keep going in the right direction in the points," he said.
  • Etc.: Like Biffle, crew chief Greg Erwin is looking forward to seeing how the new car performs this weekend. "It has the best wind tunnel numbers of our new cars, so we're excited to see how it performs at the track," said Erwin. "Qualifying will be very important as passing can be very difficult at Indy and track position is critical."

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    17) Casey Mears, No. 25 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
  • This week: Mears has one top-10 finish in four starts at Indy. He also won the pole position for the Brickyard 400 in 2004 with a speed of 186.293 mph -- the fastest lap ever turned by a stock car at IMS. Mears will be driving the same car he raced to fourth place last month at Pocono.
  • Last race: Mears moved up two spots in the point standings with his fifth-place finish at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Mears is 230 points out of 12th place and knows "we're a long shot to make the Chase, but it's possible. Our goal now is to just keep our momentum going." Mears has climbed 12 spots in the standings in the last seven races.

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    18) Mark Martin, No. 01 Chevrolet, Ginn Racing
  • This week: Martin has finished in the top 10 in eight of his 13 starts at Indy, including a fifth-place finish in 2006. His best finish at the famed speedway is second in 1998, and he has three IROC wins there. "The Brickyard 400 is one of the biggest races of the year, and it sure would be nice to go up to Indy and make a run for that trophy," said Martin.
  • Last race: Martin was 14th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Martin is excited about this weekend because he will be racing what he calls the "Chicago car." "I really loved that car before I banged it up in practice on Saturday," he said. "The guys did a great job of fixing it up, and we think we can be just as fast at Indy."

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    19) J.J. Yeley, No. 18 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing
  • This week: Yeley thought he was headed for a top-10 finish a year ago in his first Nextel Cup race at Indy before a late race accident ended his day. He finished 34th. Yeley hopes things go a lot smoother the second time around at the famed speedway. "It's really important at Indy to qualify well because it's a really difficult race track to pass on," said Yeley.
  • Last race: Yeley was ninth in the Busch Series event at Gateway International Raceway last weekend after finishing 35th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Yeley spent almost six years living near Indianapolis in his bid to secure a top NASCAR ride. In 2003, he set a United States Auto Club record with 24 wins in a single season, breaking A.J. Foyt's record of 19 set in 1961. Following the record-breaking year, Yeley signed a multi-year contract with Joe Gibbs Racing.

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    20) Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Montoya will make history on Sunday by becoming the first driver to compete in all three major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the Indianapolis 500, the United States Grand Prix and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Montoya competed in six Formula 1 races at Indy, and his best finish was fourth. He won the Indy 500 in 2000.
  • Last race: Montoya finished 15th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Montoya will be a Nextel Cup rookie this weekend as he makes his first Cup start at IMS. But he also will be the only Indy 500 winner in the 43-car field. In winning the 2000 Indy 500, Montoya became the first rookie to win the famed race since Graham Hill in 1966.

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    21) Bobby Labonte, No. 43 Dodge, Petty Enterprises
  • This week: After a stretch of four straight top-three finishes, including a win in 2000, things haven't gone too well for Labonte in recent years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has finished 40th in the last two races at the track, and his best finish since his victory was 11th in 2002.
  • Last race: Labonte was 20th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Labonte said his win at Indy in 200 is "one of the biggest wins of my career. Winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis is one of those races that can take your career to the next level. It just means a lot of win this race."

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    22) David Ragan, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
  • This week: Ragan has never competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But he hopes to become the ninth straight rookie to finish in the top 10 at Indy. "David has done a good job at the bigger speedways this year," said crew chief Jimmy Fennig. "We have been moving up in the points little by little, and we would like to be in the top 20 by the end of this weekend."
  • Last race: Ragan finished fifth in the Busch Series event at Gateway International Raceway last weekend after taking 25th at Chicagoland. "At the end of the race, I thought the car was pretty strong," said Ragan. "We would have liked to have been up there battling for the win, but we'll take the top-five and be happy."
  • Etc.: Ragan is running the full Cup and Busch Series schedules this year, and he hopes to do the same in 2007. "I'm a racer. I want to race," said Ragan. "Until I can be comfortable showing up at the race track every week not having to relearn things again, I'm going to run in the Busch Series."

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    23) Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Sadler finished third in the 2004 Brickyard 400 for his lone top-10 finish at Indy in eight starts. Sadler did win the pole for the 2005 event. While Sadler has been running at the end of all 19 races this season and rates eighth in the percentage of laps completed, he has only six top-20 finishes in the first 19 races.
  • Last race: Sadler was 33rd at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Sadler said "everybody brings the best possible car (to Indy), the best possible motor, everything they can possibly bring to be competitive. We have been talking about Indy a lot the last past month trying to get ready for this weekend's race."

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    24) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge, Evernham Motorsports
  • This week: Kahne has two top-five finishes in three starts at Indy. "I really enjoy going there," said Kahne. "Hopefully we have things turned around and will be really strong in our Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger. A win at Indy would certainly get our season on track." Kahne has only two top-10 finishes this season.
  • Last race: Kahne was a disappointing 32nd at Chicagoland, then spent time last week with his World of Outlaws team as it raced at Lernersville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., and Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
  • Etc.: Growing up in Enumclaw, Wash., Kahne said he remembers getting up early in the morning to watch the Indianapolis 500. "As a kid, I dreamed about racing at Indy, whether it was the Brickyard 400 or the Indy 500," he said. "Just to race at Indy is a thrill."

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    25) David Stremme, No. 40 Dodge, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
  • This week: Stremme, a native of South Bend, Ind., finished 18th last year in his first race at Indy. "It was pretty neat last year," said Stremme. "Everybody's always talking about going to Indianapolis and watching the 500. I was never able do that because I was doing a lot of local races and stuff. Anytime I got to the Indianapolis area, I'd go by the track."
  • Last race: Stremme was 34th at Chicagoland.
  • Etc.: Stremme said one of the best things about last year was "during the driver introductions, we're riding around in the vehicles and I see a lot of people that I had raced with growing up or people who had watched me growing up, and it was pretty emotional."

  • Go back to the top
    Tagged: Kurt Busch, Scott Wimmer, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Bobby Labonte, Martin Truex Jr., David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, David Stremme, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray

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