It was the weekend of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or as it is officially called, the Kroger Super Race Weekend, featuring The Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com. That is a mouth full.
Who is Curtiss Shaver?
He is a firefighter from Alabama. An everyday hero and he was voted to have his name attached to this race.
There were five everyday heroes as finalists for the honor and a national vote picked Shaver.
When he was 18 years old, Shaver suffered an accident on the family farm and he lost a leg. The area fire department saved his life and kept him from bleeding to death and Shaver joined that same fire department and still serves there today.
The Brickyard 400 was the culmination of the Super Race weekend.
Two Grand Am grand prix style races kicked the weekend off on Friday and then the Nationwide Indiana 250 on Saturday and finally the Brickyard kicking off at 1:00PM Sunday.
The Grand Am races drew such talent as Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Patrick Dempsey of Hollywood fame, who is known as ‘Doctor McDreamy’ on the show “Grey’s Anatomy”. Rain had an impact on those races and that was the only rain in sight for the Super Weekend.
The Grand Am races were the first of their kind held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and they were also the most entertaining and best racing of the weekend.
The Nationwide series race was run under hot, partly cloudy conditions on Saturday and Brad Keselowski was the winner of the inaugural race of the series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Racing superstar Danica Patrick would crash and end her day early in the Nationwide event and she did not try to qualify for the Brickyard 400.
Keselowski would try to pull off the double and win both NASCAR races at the Speedway, but struggled in qualifications and started 22 which is about half way back in the field. He lead twice throughout the race by using pit strategy but finished 9th, just ahead of Tony Stewart.
Denny Hamlin and the Fed Ex Number 11 Toyota was the fastest qualifier for the Brickyard 400, followed by Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, and Greg Biffle as the five fastest heading to the start of the race.
Hamlin took off from the pole position and held off Edwards who started second and was the strongest challenger to Hamlin in the first quarter of the race. Edwards had mechanical issues and those forced him to the pits and put him out of contention early in the race.
Jimmie Johnson, who was trying to win his fourth Brickyard 400, was running second and having no luck passing Hamlin on the track, took the lead in the first round of pit stops and while running out front was able to hold Hamlin off in the second quarter of the race.
It was a beautiful, cloudless summer Indiana sky that held court over Indianapolis and the Speedway on Sunday and the weather was ideal for the 19th running of NASCAR’s second most famous race as the Brickyard is eclipsed only by the Daytona 500.
The story that no one is talking about is the lack of fans in the stands. The Speedway does not announce attendance and possibly it was the heat, but much less than half of the seats were noticeably empty. That didn’t stop the action on the track, but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while laced with history, is not the best place to watch a stock car race, or to race a stock car. The track tends to produce one lane the drivers race in and thus very little passing and mor follow the leader and that is what happened Sunday.
Once in the lead, Johnson was dominate in the Lowes Chevy number 48 car that is usually blue and silver but was painted black for the Colbalt Tools sponsorship.
Greg Biffle took the lead in the pits by only taking two tires when other drivers including Johnson, took four new tires, but the lead was short lived as Johnson passed back for the lead within five laps and never looked back as he drove to an easy win .
Johnson is the five time NASCAR Cup series champ and his Brickyard win is his forth which ties him with Jeff Gordon who also has won at the Brickyard 4 times.
The top ten finishers were: Johnson, Kyle Busch, Biffle, Dale Earnhart Jr., Gordon, Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Keselowski, and Tony Stewart finshed 10th.
With his forth place finish, and Matt Kenseth crashing out and catching fire, Earnhart Jr. is now the leader in the series for the season as they head toward naming the 2012 Champion.
The teams now head to Pocono, Pennsylvania for the next race of the schedule which will be Sunday August 5th.