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Montoya penalized for speeding in pit road

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Montoya penalized for speeding in pit road. He’s disputing it. “I swear on my children and my wife that I was not speeding.”

He’s forced to do a pass-through and now he’s reporting something on his tires, possibly oil.

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Kyle Busch blows tire

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Kyle Busch is telling reporters that he wasn’t sure what happened with his right front tire. At this point they don’t know if it was the car or the tire that caused it to blow, but he sure didn’t sound happy about it. He’d been running a pretty good race up until that point – then he noticed it getting tight and a vibration so strong that he was going to need new eyeballs, as he put it. The car is in the garage and Busch is out of the car.

Joey Logano, who is just 19, is showing patience beyond his years. He’s in 20th position. He’s methodical and is having a good race.

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And we’re green!

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm

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!

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The buildup continues

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Less than an hour until the green flag drops here at the Speedway, the drivers are on the track, headed to their cars, but are the fans headed to their seats? Along the front straight away, there are rows upon rows of bleachers still unfilled. There are still plenty of folks milling about the plaza and through the tunnel under the front stretch, but I don’t know that it will be enough to fill some of the holes in the grandstand.

And I can’t even see Turn 3 from here.

This being my first NASCAR race in person, the driver introductions were interesting. You can really feel the passion, both good and bad, in the fans. A roar went up for Jeff Gordon, but it was matched with an equal number of boos. Tony Stewart was much the same way when introduced, though he seemed to have more fans on his side than his Hoosier compatriot. And I really don’t think anyone will go home unhappy if Mark Martin in the #5 takes the checkered flag.

We’re 35 minutes away and I’ve grabbed a great seat to watch the green flag drop!

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Under bright blue skies…

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm

We’re live at IMS for the 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard! The weather is perfect and getting warmer.

While the race starts at 2 p.m. (2:23 if you’re setting your watch by it), my day started with an alarm at 5 a.m. and a trip to the track shortly after 7. If there was any question whether getting to IMS seven hours early was a wide decision, it was quickly wiped away. There is so much going on behind the scenes, I can’t believe we’re already pushing lunchtime. And, as I learned at the 500 in May, once lunch hits, the pomp and circumstance flies through right afterwards.

Already, I’ve done a near-complete turn around in my thoughts of the behind-the-scenes scene. Racing teams at the 500 were (mostly) open and friendly and welcoming guests. The NASCAR teams around the garage seemed to be all-business. Can’t say that I blame them, they’re working, but it was just different. But after I realized there was a show behind the show around the team haulers, things changed. Drivers and crew and PR folks were just hanging out, chatting with media and fans and it was a lot more like the scene I remembered from my first trip “behind the fence” at IMS.

Be sure to check out my ongoing Twitter feed and select photos I’ve been uploading from the pre-race fun!

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Race Day Forecast

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 8:56 am

Highs today will reach the low 80s with clouds increasing throughout the day.  There’s a slight chance for a pop up shower or thunderstorm, but it looks like dry conditions will be found at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance for a stray storm sticks around tonight, as lows drop to the low to mid 60s.

Monday, bring on the sunshine!  Highs are expected to hit the mid 80s.  If you’ve been missing the summer heat, here it is for you!

Starting Tuesday we’ll have nearly a daily chance for rain through Friday.  It looks like the best chance for storms will be Wednesday.

Have fun at the track, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

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Saturday Storm Damage

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

The National Weather Service has released the storm damage reports from Saturday morning’s storm.  Click here  to check it out. 

What mess did you wake up to Saturday morning?

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Let’s go racing! (Take 2)

Posted By · July 26, 2009 at 12:45 am

Okay, race fans, let’s do this again!

I must have done something right at the Indianapolis 500, because the powers that be at the station are sending me in for more at tomorrow’s Brickya Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. If you can’t make the race, feel free to lean on me for wandering photos from the pit and garage areas, then providing the best liveblogging and Twittering available from the second floor media room.

As for the race, I really wish I would have dropped a prediction when it came to me, because now going with Mark Martin seems awfully front-runnerish. But it would be cool to see a first-time winner take the race tomorrow. With many drivers calling it “the 2nd biggest race on the schedule”, it definitely means a lot for them to do well and win at Indy. While it’s no doubt some of the favorites would make a good story – Jeff Gordon becoming the first 5-time winner at IMS or Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson joining the elite group of 3-time winners – I’d like to see someone come from out of the blue.

That’s why, if I have to play impartial favorites tomorrow, I’d love to see a former 500 winner – Juan Pablo Montoya or Sam Hornish, Jr. – kiss the bricks tomorrow evening, adding another unique footnote in the history of the Brickyard. Taking it a step further, what if Hornish cuts inside of oh, say, John Andretti, coming off the fourth turn to take the win? Would that be too much?


Wild dreaming aside, I’ll stick with my Martin pick, with the “multiples” – Gordon, Stewart and Johnson – boxed in my trifecta.

I don’t follow NASCAR nearly as much as I do IRL, but I can’t wait to get out to the track! I hope you’ll join me.

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