Nuts and Bolts: Indianapolis preview
By Gray Caldwell
CONCORD, N.C.— This Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports' drivers will take to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 21st running of the Brickyard 400.
Before you head to the track or tune in—the race is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN—here are some key points to keep an eye on.
THIS WEEK'S PAINT SCHEMES: Time Warner Cable will adorn the hood of Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS. Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet SS will sport the familiar Axalta Racing Brilliant Flames paint scheme—Gordon won at Kansas Speedway in May the last time his car featured that paint scheme. Jimmie Johnson will once again pilot the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, but will wear a special helmet commemorating the Jimme Johnson Foundation's Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS on Sunday. He visited the Indiana National Guard in advance of this weekend's race.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT INDY: Most recently, Johnson went to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2012, recording his fourth career win at the famed 2.5-mile speedway and the eighth for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson and Gordon rank tied for first among NASCAR competition with four career victories there. The Hendrick Motorsports duo has combined to win eight of the 20 Cup events that have been held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to those eight victories, Hendrick Motorsports has 23 top-five finishes and 35 top-10s in 20 races (73 starts) there. Check out three memorable moments from the track here.
QUEST FOR FIVE: If either Gordon or Johnson make their way to victory lane on Sunday, they would become just the second driver to ever win five times in a major race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Only Formula 1's Michael Schumacher has achieved that distinction, winning the U.S. Grand Prix five times at Indy.
CHEVY STREAK: Chevrolet has won 15 of the 20 Sprint Cup events held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the last 11 straight. In addition, a Chevy has started from the Brickyard 400 pole position nine times.
CHASE CLINCH: Thanks to his two wins and a secured spot in the top 30 of the standings, Earnhardt became one of two drivers to clinch spots in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, presuming he attempts to qualify for the next seven races.
KAHNE AT INDIANAPOLIS: In 10 Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis, Kahne has posted three top-five finishes, five top-10s and led a total of 88 laps. His top-five results include a runner-up finish in 2005 and a third-place result in 2013. Kahne also has qualified in the top 10 seven of 10 times that he’s raced at the Brickyard in the Cup Series. Consequently, his average start at the 2.5-mile track is 8.5, which ranks him second among active drivers.
GORDON TOPS AT INDY: Gordon leads the following NASCAR Sprint Cup statistical categories at The Brickyard: poles (3), top-five finishes (11), top-10’s (16) and laps led (488).
GORDON 91 LAPS LED SHY OF 24,000: Sixth all-time with 23,909 laps led during his 22-year career, Gordon is the all-time leader in laps led at The Brickyard with 488. He has paced the field for 91 or more laps on three occasions at the 2.5-mile track.
JOHNSON AT INDY: In 12 starts at the Brickyard, Johnson has recorded four wins, five top-five finishes and six top-10s, sharing the title of most all-time Indianapolis victories with teammate Jeff Gordon. Johnson’s 302 laps led also rank him second on the all-time list, trailing only Gordon.
EARNHARDT AT THE BRICKYARD: In 14 Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has recorded one top-five, four top-10 finishes and led 61 laps. In five of those races, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS lined up sixth or better for the historic event. He scored his best finish—fourth-place—at the 2.5-mile oval in 2012.