* Championship Road Runs Through the Brickyard * Two-Time Brickyard Winner Jarrett a Championship Contender Again * 400-point Chase Cut-Off Within Reach of 'Bubble' Drivers NEWS AND NOTES On the NASCAR Bubble: Jarrett Holds 10th, Others...
* Championship Road Runs Through the Brickyard
* Two-Time Brickyard Winner Jarrett a Championship Contender Again
* 400-point Chase Cut-Off Within Reach of 'Bubble' Drivers
NEWS AND NOTES
On the NASCAR Bubble: Jarrett Holds 10th, Others Closing In ... With the beginning of the "Race to the Chase," the spotlight is on 10th place, and the "bubble" created by drivers battling for that spot -- plus, the separate quest to at least remain within 400 points of the points leader. Dale Jarrett retained the 10th-place spot coming out of the last series race at Pocono Raceway on July 24, albeit barely. Only 73 points separate positions 10-13.
On the upside for Jarrett, he is only 19 points behind ninth-place Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) and 22 behind eighth-place Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).
Here's a look at the drivers in positions 11-15. They're pursuing 10th place -- while also trying to stay in the same time zone as the points leader, Jimmie Johnson.
• 11th place: Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline-Texaco Dodge), who is only nine points behind Jarrett and 436 behind Johnson.
• 12th place: Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot/Scotts Ford), only 12 behind Jarrett and 439 behind Johnson.
• 13th place: Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), who trails Jarrett by 73 and Johnson by 500.
• 14th place: Dale Earnhardt Jr., now trailing Jarrett by 110 and Johnson by 537.
• 15th place: Jeff Gordon, 114 behind Jarrett and 541 behind Johnson.
Regarding the Race to the Chase, Did You Know? ... The potential exists for all of the drivers in positions 11-15 to make substantial leaps in the points this week and help their chances of making the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Granted, those leaps will require some "help" in the form of an off-day by first place Jimmie Johnson. But after all, it happened last year when Johnson finished 36th at Indianapolis.
Here are some possibilities to consider for those five bubble drivers, based on another 36th-place run by Johnson, which would be worth only 55 points (provided he gets no bonus points for leading laps):
• 11th-place Jamie McMurray would have to finish at least 24th. A 24th-place finish would put McMurray exactly 400 behind Johnson.
• 12th-place Carl Edwards would have to finish at least 23rd. That finish would also leave Edwards 400 behind Johnson.
• 13th-place Kevin Harvick would need to finish at least fifth. Fifth place would put him 395 behind Johnson.
• 14th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have to win and get five bonus points (for leading at least a lap) to draw within 397 of Johnson.
• And 15th-place Jeff Gordon would have to win and lead the most laps -- exactly what he did last year at Indy -- to get within 400 of Johnson. He would be 396 back, to be exact.
The NASCAR Leaderboard ... Through 20 races of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Jimmie Johnson leads the series points plus three other key statistical categories. The rundown is illustrated in the accompanying graphic:
IRP Paved NASCAR's Path to Brickyard ... NASCAR and Indianapolis have a history that pre-dates races at the Brickyard. In 1982, the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series schedule included an event at .686-mile Indianapolis Raceway, a stellar short track that is merely a short drive to the West, from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Inclusion into the NASCAR Busch Series schedule was a long-term trial balloon for future NASCAR national series forays into what was previously open-wheel-only country.
When the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debuted in 1995, IRP was likewise on the slate. For both series, the IRP events have become highlights and this year should be no exception.
Friday night's truck event -- the Power Stroke Diesel 200 -- will be followed by a Saturday night NASCAR Busch Series event, the Kroger 200. It's a hot summer night, short-track doubleheader -- and a perfect warm-up for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Expectedly, there will be some "crossover" by drivers this weekend.
Four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup regulars will race in the Kroger 200 -- Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Mike Wallace. Ken Schrader and Wallace also will race in the Power Stroke Diesel 200.
Tight Battle for Manufacturers Championship ... After 21 races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, a nip-and-tuck battle is unfolding for the series' Manufacturers Championship. Going into Indianapolis, Chevrolet leads with 146 points, followed by Ford with 139. Dodge is third with 95. Chevrolet's lead comes on the strength of 10 wins. Ford's closeness is based on nine wins. Chevy is led thus far by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, who have three victories apiece. Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford) leads Ford drivers -- and the series overall -- with five victories. Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) has Dodge's sole victory in 2005.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Leads Most Popular Driver Voting ... With more than 2.5 million votes cast by race fans nationwide, Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award balloting. Fans have been voting at www.mostpopulardriver.com, the official voting site. Jeff Gordon is running second followed by Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson. Voting for the more than 40 drivers eligible for the Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award began Tuesday, Feb. 1 at www.mostpopulardriver.com and continues through 11:59 a.m. (CT), Monday, Nov. 21. Fans may vote once each day at the site.
On the Right Track: Excelling at Indy ... Jeff Gordon is the all-time NASCAR winner at Indianapolis, with four victories. Gordon is one of 11 active drivers who have started all 11 NASCAR races at Indy. ... Kevin Harvick won at Indianapolis in 2003, giving Richard Childress Racing's top team its second victory there. Dale Earnhardt drove the RCR No. 3 Chevy to victory in 1995. ... Among active drivers, Dale Jarrett has the second-best Indy resume after Gordon. Jarrett has won two Brickyard events, and has five top-five runs. ... "Semi-retired" -- Or is it "semi-active?" -- Bill Elliott (No. 91 Stanley Tools Dodge) returns to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this week and history indicates he could be a major factor. The 2002 race winner -- and 1988 series champion -- has nine top-10 finishes at Indianapolis, tied with Gordon and Rusty Wallace for the all-time lead. ... Bobby Labonte has one Brickyard victory and four top fives. ... Rusty Wallace has five top fives and nine top 10s. ... Mark Martin has four top fives and six top 10s. ... Tony Stewart has only six Indy starts in NASCAR competition, but has compiled two top-five and three top-10 finishes. He also made five starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 1996-2001, with three top-10 finishes.
From the Archives: NASCAR-Indy Connection Started Long Ago ... The Brickyard 400 was first run in 1994 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a track whose history dates back to 1909. At that time the NASCAR classic became the only event other than the Indianapolis 500 to be held at IMS.
But the connection between the state of Indiana, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR goes back much further than 1994.
NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. was a fine mechanic and a very good race car driver, finishing fifth in the first stock car race on Daytona Beach in 1936. The event was sanctioned by the American Automobile Association, the same sanctioning body which staged the Indy 500. France developed many friendships with AAA competitors and officials through the Daytona race and these connections led to France working with several race teams which competed in the Indianapolis 500 during the late 1930s through 1946.
One team he worked with was owned Joel Thorne who was the young heir to a family fortune. Thorne spent much of that fortune on race cars designed and built by Art Sparks, one of the era's premier car builders and a friend of France's. The official panoramic speedway photo, taken before the 1939 Indy 500, features all of the race's competitors with Thorne and France, both nearly 6 foot 5 inches in height, standing side by side in the center of the photo. France was also a member of Sparks' 1946 Indianapolis 500 winning team with driver George Robson. France turned to race promotion full time in 1946 and went on to establish NASCAR in December 1947.
The first NASCAR race held in Indiana for the division that would eventually the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series took place at Funk's Speedway in Winchester, Ind. on Oct. 15, 1950. Named for Frank Funk, the man who carved the track out of a corn field in 1916 with a horse-drawn plow, the track featured a covered wooden grandstand holding 5,000 and a high-banked, pot-holed dirt surface which measured a half-mile in length. It is a stark contrast to today's 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with its super-smooth racing surface, seating for over 200,000 and infield championship golf course.
Indiana's first NASCAR race was for 100 miles or 200 laps. The starting field consisted of 13 cars with the short field due to a major NASCAR race being run the same day at Martinsville, Va.
Dick Linder from Pittsburgh, Pa. put Don Rogala's Olds 88 on the pole for Funk's event. Linder led the first three laps before being taken out on Lap 4 with mechanical problems. Ohio's Bucky Sager took over the front spot on Lap 4 and held it to Lap 149, relinquishing the lead to Lloyd Moore. Moore led the last 51 laps for his only NASCAR win, collecting $1,000 for his efforts.
Moore, a school bus mechanic from Frewsburg, N.Y., raced on the weekends for New York car dealer Julian Buesink. Moore still lives in Frewsburg and at age 93 is the oldest surviving NASCAR driver. Another NASCAR event was held at Playland Park in South Bend, Ind. in 1952, with NASCAR returning to Indiana in 1994.
The inaugural Brickyard 400, held on Aug. 6, 1994, marked the first time since 1909, the year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built, that a stock car competed there. That first NASCAR event was also the first time in speedway history that two races were held there in a single year.
That race -- won by Jeff Gordon -- was historic not only for the obvious reasons.
• It marked the final NASCAR race for legend A.J. Foyt.
• It also marked the only NASCAR start for open-wheel star Danny Sullivan and sports car ace Geoff Brabham.
• West Coast stock car champion Mike Chase also made the field.
• Rick Mast, driving a Richard Jackson Ford Thunderbird, was the surprise pole winner setting a speed of 172.414 mph, while Dale Earnhardt held the outside front-row spot.
The Race: Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (Race No. 21 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
The Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Date/Time: Sunday, Aug. 7, 2:40 p.m. (ET).
TV: NBC, 2:30 p.m. (ET).
Radio: IMS Radio Network/XM Satellite.
Posted Awards: $9,180,902.
Race Length: 400 miles, 160 laps.
Track Layout: 2.5-mile oval.
2004 Winner: Jeff Gordon.
2004 Polesitter: Casey Mears.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Jimmie Johnson 2,799. 2. Tony Stewart 2,733. 3. Greg Biffle 2,712. 4. Rusty Wallace 2,617. 5. Kurt Busch 2,537. 6. Ryan Newman 2,507. 7. Mark Martin 2,490. 8. Jeremy Mayfield 2,394. 9. Elliott Sadler 2,391. 10. Dale Jarrett 2,372.