We’re off and racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
While it wasn’t quite Moraes-esque, Robby Gordon kept up this year’s tradition of first lap yellows at IMS with a spin out of Turn 4. From what I could hear through the rumble of engines, he may have hit some moisture on the track, likely from the 19 car of Elliott Sadler. Sadler’s Best Buy crew spent some time in the pit looking under the hood, then made a run toward Gasoline Alley. I haven’t seen him come back out.
UPDATE: Gordon’s sister, Beccy, posted on Twitter that Sadler laid some oil down on the track.
Gordon, on the other hand, got checked out, caught up to the pack under yellow and has climbed back up around 33rd.
The story of the restart, however, was Juan Pablo Montoya. The 2000 Indy 500 champ knows how to drive here, passing leader Mark Martin and opening up a 3-second lead just about nine laps into the race. This would be a heck of a place for him to get his first win on a NASCAR oval.
22 laps in, Montoya still leads Martin by about 3 seconds, with Tony Stewart climbing into third. Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. round out the top five. Defending champ Jimmie Johnson is on the move as well, starting 16th and shooting into the top six.
Lap 31 and we’re seeing some pit stops among the leaders. Tony Stewart stayed out and was shown as the race leader, but he’s now taking on tires as I type.
Most of the cars have gone through a pit stop. Stewart is still shown as the leader, Martin and Montoya in 3rd and 4th.
The massive empty stretches of bleachers gained a few folks, but there are still large areas of metal seats. Same goes for the short chute between 1 & 2. Maybe there was something to all the economy & tire issue stories we’ve done the past week or two.
Lap 35 – We’ve shuffled back around out of the pit stops and Montoya is back on top in the 42, followed by Martin, Vickers, Stewart and Johnson.
Lap 50 – We’re still green, with nothing of note since the Gordon spin in Lap 1. Looks like the “tires are fine” talk was true. Good for Goodyear to put the time and effort into getting that worked out.
Montoya still leads as he and Martin work in and around lapped traffic, making the roar of the engines a steady one around IMS. Not much change in the rest of the top six, with Stewart, Vickers, Johnson and Earnhardt following the top two. At this point, it would be easy to say that pit stops will win this race, but NASCAR is always good for finding specks of debris in the closing laps.
Lap 80 – We’re halfway and it’s all Juan Pablo Montoya! He came off a restart after Kyle Busch went out with tire issues from contact and, like he did on the previous restart, opened up about a four-second lead on Mark Martin. Brian Vickers is putting together a good run in third and Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson are lurking in the top 5. But this one’s looking like JPM’s to lose.
Lap 103 – Montoya. I wish there was more to say. He pitted a lap after the rest of the field, did it perfectly and even opened up his lead. Unreal.
Lap 129 – In the span of about a lap and a half, we’ve got ourselves a race. All Montoya had to do is not mess up and he apparently messed up, entering pit road too quick. He only dropped to 12th and he definitely has the car today, but with 30 laps to go and some big names (and former winners) in front of him, this chance may have slipped by.
Right after that wrapped up and Montoya took his drive-thru penalty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. blows up coming off of Turn Four and the smoke brings out our third caution.
Martin takes over the lead and Jimmie Johnson, the two-time winner that started 16th has worked his way into second. Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers round out the top 5 as we get ready to go back to green with about 25 laps to go. Jeff Gordon is in eighth.
It’s still anybody’s race.
Lap 151 – And what a race it’s turning out to be. Jimmie Johnson passes Martin on the restart out of Earnhardt’s caution, but Martin is within a half-second and closing. Montoya dropped to 15th on the restart and will have to be happy with 116 laps led, it appears. Might make for an interesting postrace commentary, though, JPM and some of his camp claim he wasn’t speeding when he was hit with the penalty.
Jimmie Johnson holds off Mark Martin to win his third Allstate 400 at the Brickyard! I got some pretty good post-race photos, make sure you check them out!