* Together Again: 400 Starts ESPN/ABC Portion Of TV Schedule Keys to Victory Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- both historic and unique, with a 2.5-mile relatively flat oval. It's a tough puzzle to solve for any machine, perhaps more so for stock...
* Together Again: 400 Starts ESPN/ABC Portion Of TV Schedule
Keys to Victory
Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- both historic and unique, with a 2.5-mile relatively flat oval. It's a tough puzzle to solve for any machine, perhaps more so for stock cars. Here are some pieces of that puzzle to consider:
* Good pit strategy is critical. It's difficult to pass and track position is of utmost importance. Making up ground during the race can oftentimes be a challenge.
* Setting the car up with the right aerodynamic package. As mentioned, passing doesn't come easily at this race track. The driver needs to have his car running at the optimum at the right place and at the right time on the track in order to have a chance to make the pass.
* Fuel mileage is a key, as is a chassis setup that works well throughout the race. Drivers need a setup that works well when the car is topped off with fuel and when it's running near empty.
NNCS, Etc. ...
Montoya Returns to Indy
Juan Pablo Montoya returns this week to the site of his 2000 Indianapolis 500 win. He'll become the first Indy 500 champion to race in NASCAR's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard since A.J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan raced in the inaugural 400 in 1994. Montoya, along with team owner Chip Ganassi, will hold a press conference Friday at 10:30 a.m. on the fourth floor of the IMS Media Center...With a 15th place finish at Chicagoland two weeks ago, Montoya increased his lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. With 196 points, he is now 14 points ahead of second-place David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford).
Petty Joins Exclusive List
After missing the past three races while in the TNT broadcast booth, Kyle Petty (No. 45 Marathon Dodge) finally makes his 800th career start this weekend. Petty, who was replaced by Chad McCumbee and John Andretti during his layoff, joins only five other drivers in the 800-start club -- including his father, Richard, who leads the list with 1,185 starts. Oddly enough, three drivers with 800-plus starts will be in Sunday's race: Petty, Ricky Rudd (No. 88 Snickers Ford) and Terry Labonte (No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota).
Indy Event Was Part Of France's Vision For NASCAR's Growth ... The legacy of the late Bill France, who died last month at the age of 74, is multi-faceted. Descriptions of that legacy inevitably focus on the vision he had for NASCAR's growth, a vision that was in many ways a modern-day extension of that of his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.
Bill Jr.'s vision included a concept once thought to be the ultimate longshot: A NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That vision clarified in 1994, when France's concept became reality with the running of the inaugural Brickyard 400.
NASCAR's arrival at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was prefaced by what could be called a "trial balloon" in the form of NASCAR Busch Series racing at nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park, starting in 1982. That event resulted largely from the efforts of Bob Daniels, then the general manager at ORP. In 1995, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series started racing at ORP as well.
Collectively, those two events and the 400 represent a stunning tripleheader this week.
"Bob Daniels brought NASCAR to Indy for the first time and what he did opened the door to what would become one of the biggest weeks in American motorsports each year," Bill France said in an interview several years ago.
With the door opened, France and IMS President Tony George peered inside. They saw nothing but potential.
And now, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard represents potential realized.
On Deck: Return To Pocono ... Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Kinko's Chevrolet) will be the defending race champion next week (Sunday, Aug, 5) when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500, Round 5 of the 'Race to the Chase.'
The Race to the Chase ends Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway.
Ken Schrader started eight races this season in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford before Bill Elliott replaced him for the Coca-Cola 600. This weekend, Schrader returns, this time in the No. 49 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge for BAM Racing. Schrader last drove the No. 49 Dodge in 2005. ... Race car driver, journalist and author Denise McCluggage will be honored with the Mildred Marcum Pioneer Award at the annual Women in the Winner's Circle Luncheon at IMS on Thursday. McCluggage was the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame... James Denton, who plays Mike Delfino in ABC's hit show "Desperate Housewives," will be the Grand Marshal and Honorary Starter for Sunday's race. Sgt. Byron Bartosh, a trumpet player from the Indiana National Guard, will perform the National Anthem. ... ESPN returns to the forefront of NASCAR coverage this weekend when it reappears on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series broadcast schedule. Televising NASCAR's premier series for the first time since 2000, ESPN launches a 17-week span of flag-to-flag coverage by ESPN and ABC of seven 'Race to the Chase' and 10 'Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup' events. The Chase races, as well as the crucial Richmond contest prior to the Chase, will all air on ABC, marking the first time that all Chase events have appeared on the same network.
Washington Times' Dave Fay Loses Battle With Cancer ... Washington Times sportswriter/editor Dave Fay was a hockey man first and foremost, but he took to covering NASCAR well in recent years, quickly making friends and building sources -- trademarks of the consummate beat reporter. As a result, his coverage of NASCAR was just like his hockey stuff: Crisp, concise and creative -- and a gift to readers of the Times.
Fay passed away last week at the age of 67 following a long bout with cancer. In November, Fay will be inducted posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame, a spin-off of his being recently awarded the Elmer Ferguson Award, the biggest honor in hockey journalism.
Donations in his memory can be made to the following charities:
*Hockey Fights Cancer
PO Box 5037
New York, NY 10185-5037
*Hockey's All-Star Kids Foundation
National Hockey League
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
The Race: Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 29
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN, 1 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2.5-mile oval
The Distance: 400 miles; 160 laps
The Purse: $9,533,587
2006 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2006 Pole: Jeff Burton
Pre-Race Schedule (local/ET time): Friday -- Practice, 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.; Saturday -- Qualifying, 10:10 a.m. Practice, 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.