On Sunday, Nascar made its annual sojourn to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hosting the memorably named Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com. Wow. The person who came up with that name needs to take a serious look at what he’s doing with his life. Anyway, the race was won by Indiana native Ryan Newman, who beat Jimmie Johnson not by passing him on the race track, but by having a faster green-flag pit stop. Indeed, there was very little passing on the race track. There was just one on-track lead change during the race, the rest coming during green-flag pit stops.
The race featured no side-by-side action and virtually no passing, as it has been since 2008. The track was repaved that year, eliminating the outside groove on the track, and along with it, much of the interest in the race. Tony Stewart was vocal in his defense of Indy, saying, “It doesn’t have to be two- and three-wide racing all day long to be good racing. If you want to see passing, we can head out to Interstate 465.’ Fans, however, appeared to disagree with Stewart, and in large numbers. Barely half of the seats at Indy were filled. The backstretch grandstands were closed off completely.
Indeed, the race stood in stark contrast to the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora. The Nascar return to dirt was one of the most exciting races of the season, featuring beating and banging as well as exciting passes for the lead. At the Brickyard, no one so much as scraped the wall. There were only 3 cautions in the 160 lap race. Two were for mechanical problems concerning Timmy Hill‘s OxyWater Ford, and the other one was for drive-line issues in the 31 car of Jeff Burton. The Mayor would finish last, falling 3 spots in the standings. The end of Burton’s Chase hopes? It might be, especially considering how he’s performed so far this season. Meanwhile, Ryan Newman gained three places in the standings with his win. He is now only 20 points behind Martin Truex, Jr., and could be poised to make a Case run. Meanwhile, the Chase standings shuffled. Brad Keselowski‘s 21st place finish dropped him out of the top 10, and Jeff Gordon moved in. Gordon is currently only 1 point ahead of 11th place Stewart. Unlike the racing at Indy, the battle for the Chase is heating up.