Who's for real in Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard? Lee Spencer lists the top 10 favorites at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from the cream of the crop to drivers who could surprise on race day.
Bargain basement: Sam Hornish Jr.
Hornish won the Indianapolis 500 in 2006. He finished 21st in his only stock car start at the Brickyard, but posted a solid 10th-place finish at Pocono and eighth at Loudon -- both flat Cup tracks where momentum is key.
Bargain basement: Marcos Ambrose
Marcos Ambrose finished 22nd in his sole Brickyard start last year. But since he has the stability of racing with the No. 47 team all season, he's made tremendous gains. His sixth-place finish at Pocono last month should be a sign of the performance Ambrose can achieve in the 400.
Bargain basement: Reed Sorenson
Sorenson has picked up the pace after a slow start to the season. In second practice on Friday, Sorenson was fifth-quickest on the speed chart. Sorenson won the pole for the 2007 Brickyard race and finished fifth after leading 16 laps.
Middle of the road: Kevin Harvick
In 2003, Harvick became the first driver to win the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard from the pole. Although Happy hasn't lived up to his nickname lately, he was fourth fastest on the speed charts on Friday -- a solid indicator of what the No. 29 Shell Chevrolet could accomplish on Sunday. In eight Indy starts, Harvick has posted three top fives, five top 10's and has an average finish of 11.4. He's completed 99.1 percent of all possible laps.
Middle of the road: Juan Pablo Montoya
The 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner has just two starts in a stock car at the Brickyard. He qualified second in his first start and went on to finish second. Last season JPM was one of many casualties of tiregate as his lack of experience in stock cars made it nearly impossible to compete under those circumstances. Montoya has been complimentary of the Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines, which should come in handy on Sunday.
Middle of the road: Kasey Kahne
Since Kahne's first appearance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which resulted in a fourth-place finish, he's enjoyed solid success at the track. With the improvements that Richard Petty Motorsports has made this season, Kahne has been impressed with the elevated horsepower which should bode well for race day. Kahne finished seventh in last year's race but his best finish came in 2005, when he led 39 laps and finished second to Stewart.
Blue chip prospect: Mark Martin
Martin has competed in all 15 NASCAR races at IMS but has never won the race, but he never had Hendrick Motorsports equipment underneath him either and HMS has won six times at Indy -- more than any other organization. Martin has five top fives and 9 top 10s. However, when all cars were equal, Martin captured the first three of six IROC races on the 2.5-miler.
Blue chip prospect: Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three Allstate 400 at the Brickyard events and used the victories to propel him to the Sprint Cup title. Overall, J.J.'s record at the track is somewhat erratic. In seven starts he's completed just 83 percent of all possible laps raced. He's posted two wins, three top fives and an average finish of 20.3. However, his recent Indy history shows dramatic improvement.
Blue chip prospect: Jeff Gordon
Gordon is one of just four drivers remaining on the tour to have raced when NASCAR made its debut at the Brickyard. He holds the distinction of the being the first victor -- but he didn't stop there. Gordon fought his way to a series high four Brickyard trophies. In 15 starts, the four-time Cup champ has posted nine top fives, nine top 10s and the top average finish (8.6).
Blue chip prospect: Tony Stewart
Stewart has won in two of the last four trips to the Brickyard. The Columbus, Ind., native has four top fives, six top 10s and one pole in 10 stock car starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has also led 215 laps at the 2.5-mile speedway -- second only to Jeff Gordon. Chevy has won 10 of 15 Indy races, so Smoke is happy to return to the bowtie brigade to battle at his hometown track.