Racing stock cars at Indianapolis is always interesting. We are officially at the two-thirds mark of our season. Starting this weekend, there are only seven more races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set. This is the point of the season where you take everything you’ve learned up to this point and you bring your best piece to Indy.
Granted, sometimes it doesn’t work out but normally the Brickyard is the place where we see teams try new things. It could be a new setup. It could be a new engine combination. It could be a new design of your car. This is the second-highest profile race of the season and it’s one that everyone wants to have on their resume of having won the Brickyard 400.
This is the race where it takes every single thing to work perfectly for you that day to win. As a crew chief, I never actually won the Brickyard 400. We came close that first year, but a cut tire with less than twenty laps to go took us out of contention for the win. We also came close with a second-, third- and fourth-place finish but could never close the deal there for the win.
It’s one of the flattest tracks we go to, so you need a good handling car there. You have to have great aerodynamics because of the flat corners and long-as-heck straightaways. You have to absolutely have a great engine combination. You also have to have a driver that understands the patience it takes to run a place like Indy. Your pit crew has to have a perfect day and your strategy has to be flawless, too.
I think this weekend we all will be keeping our eye on the Hendrick Motorsports camp, especially Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car. Jeff Gordon has had a ton of success there. And we all know what Indy means to Tony Stewart, the Indiana native.
But right now today if I can only pick one driver, well, I’d pick that cat in the No. 2 car — Brad Keselowski.
To be fair, don’t discount Brad’s teammate Joey Logano there, either. Think about it, with all the success he has enjoyed at Indianapolis, car owner Roger Penske has never won a Brickyard 400. Chip Ganassi can lay claim to winning the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 — he even did it in the same season in 2010, plus won the Daytona 500 that year — but Roger can’t say that yet.
I just believe the checkered flag on Sunday’s Brickyard 400 runs through Penske Racing and either that No. 2 or No. 22 car.