BRICKYARD 400 VICTORY WOULD BOOST JUNIOR'S CHASE CHANCES INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 12, 2010 -- A reporter recently asked Dale Earnhardt Jr. to name the first thing he thinks of when someone mentions the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "A.J. Foyt...
BRICKYARD 400 VICTORY WOULD BOOST JUNIOR'S CHASE CHANCES
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, July 12, 2010 -- A reporter recently asked Dale Earnhardt Jr. to name the first thing he thinks of when someone mentions the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "A.J. Foyt or somebody like that," Earnhardt said. "Bricks come to mind."
He would like to add something else to that list: Victory.
NASCAR superstar Earnhardt would make history with a win in the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 25 at IMS. He and his late father, 1995 winner Dale Earnhardt, would become the first father-son tandem to win the Brickyard 400 and just the second father-son duo to capture a major event at IMS, behind Indianapolis 500 champions Al Unser and Al Unser Jr.
A victory at Indianapolis also could go a long way toward helping Junior earn a spot in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time since 2008. He is 13th in the series standings entering the Brickyard, one spot out of the Chase. But he's just 15 points behind 12th place Clint Bowyer.
Earnhardt has been running better lately in his famous No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, with four top-11 finishes in his last five starts.
"Lance (McGrew) and I are just working together better," Earnhardt said of his crew chief. "My cars feel better to me. They're more comfortable. I feel like I'm able to drive them instead of the car really being difficult to control.
"I don't know if the (return to the) spoiler helped me any, but I it feels like to me that I have a little less downforce on the back and the aero balance on the car is a little bit better, which I feel like I'm liking that better."
That aerodynamic balance is vital on the famous 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis. The track features 5/8th-mile front and rear straightaways leading into turns banked at just 9 degrees. And nearly every driver who competes on the IMS oval will say all four corners feel different even though their geometry is identical.
IMS is a fickle beast, especially in a 3,400-pound stock car.
"It is real tight into Turn 1," Earnhardt said. "If you can roll down into that corner, there is a lot of speed to be gained there because as you go around the track each corner seems to be easier and freer to get through, Turn 4 being the loosest corner.
"So Turn 1, just turning down in there and getting the car turned and being able to carry speed into (Turn) 2 I think creates a good lap. From there on, you build on the momentum and speed from what you did in Turn 1. It all has a repercussion on each following corner. I think that is the most important."
Earnhardt has a good handle on that formula for speed at IMS during qualifying, as he has qualified in the top six five times in his 10 starts in the Brickyard 400, including third last year. But the race has been a different story, as he has finished in the top 10 only twice.
But if Earnhardt and McGrew can come to grips with IMS, Junior knows the victory will rank among his Daytona 500 win in 2004 due the rich history of both IMS and the Daytona International Speedway.
"It is a battle between it and Daytona in the country, in my opinion, of being the most prestigious tracks in the United States," Earnhardt said of IMS. "There are a lot of other road courses that are famous that could be in that conversation, but between it and Daytona, man, it is hard to beat the heritage of those two places." ***
Tickets: Tickets are on sale now for the Brickyard 400. Tickets can be purchased online at www.imstix.com at any time. General admission tickets will be available for Brickyard 400 Race Day -- at a value price of just $40 each -- for the first time at this year's event. Any number of children 12 and under accompanied by at least one adult holding a general admission ticket will be admitted free.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.