Driver Handicaps: Indianapolis
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on July 25, 2013 | 3:07 P.M. EST
Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have won four of the last seven races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
MotorRacingNetwork.com’s Pete Pistone takes a look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
Who's HOT at Indianapolis
Jimmie Johnson: A four-time Indianapolis winner, Johnson takes a hefty Sprint Cup Series points lead into Sunday’s race. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has won three times in the last five years at "The Brickyard" and always seems to rise to the occasion on the sport’s biggest stages.
Tony Stewart: The home-state Stewart considers Indianapolis more than hallowed ground. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since 2003 and brings a 7.4 average finish into Sunday’s race, best among active Sprint Cup Series drivers.
Jeff Gordon: Although he’s struggled in recent years, Gordon’s name is synonymous with Indianapolis success. Like teammate Johnson, Gordon is shooting for a fifth Brickyard victory on Sunday and has finishes of second and fifth in his last two outings at the track.
Greg Biffle: Although still searching for his first career Indianapolis victory, Biffle has been one of the most consistent finishers in the past few seasons. The Roush Fenway Racing driver’s average finish is 12.1 dating back to 2003 and he has five straight top 10 performances.
Kevin Harvick: Harvick was the 2003 Indianapolis winner and has a steady stream of solid finishes, including five top-10 outings. He came home 13th in the 2012 edition of the race. Harvick's 2003 victory triggered Chevrolet's current 10-race winning streak at Indy.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Since winning the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard has been a very disappointing place for Montoya during his stock car career. He finished second in 2007 but is still reeling from what looked to be a sure victory in 2009 until a pit road speeding penalty ended his chance at finding Victory Lane.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Has struggled at Indianapolis throughout his career with a 21.9 average finish over his last 10 starts - including efforts of 43rd, 34th, 36th and 27th.
Martin Truex Jr.: It’s been a rough go for Truex since winning at Sonoma last month and it won’t get any easier at Indianapolis, based on his past experience. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has a 21.5 average finish and only one top-10 performance in eight starts.
Ryan Newman: Newman is looking for a ride in 2014 and will have to step up his Indy game to impress potential future employers. Although he finished seventh last year, it was the first top 10 for Newman over the last decade.
Kurt Busch: As impressive as Busch has been this year for Furniture Row racing, his recent Indianapolis resume is nothing to write home about. He was 36th last year for Phoenix Racing and hasn’t finished better than 10th dating back to 2004.
Who to Keep an Eye On at Indianapolis
Jamie McMurray: The 2010 Brickyard winner, McMurray is enjoying a resurgent season with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. He knows his way around the 2.5-mile oval and should be a factor Sunday with a much more potent ride than he’s had the last two years.
Matt Kenseth: Has never set the world on fire at Indy during his Roush Fenway Racing days, but that was then and this is now. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver figures to be in the mix to kiss the bricks.
Brad Keselowski: Hard to believe that Roger Penske doesn’t have a Sprint Cup Series win at "The Brickyard," with all his Indianapolis 500 success. Keselowski goes into Sunday’s race off two straight ninth-place Indy finishes.
Kyle Busch: Last year’s runner-up has three straight top-10 Indy performances.
Clint Bowyer: Still looking for his first win of 2013 and knows the clock is ticking toward the end of the regular season and the Chase seedings.
Jeff Wackerlin: Juan Pablo Montoya
Pete Pistone: Jamie McMurray
Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne
John Singler: Greg Biffle