NASCAR Brickyard 400 Race Preview
More than 100,000 NASCAR fans made their way into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday as pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya prepared to lead the field in the Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race.
The day began on a positive note for drivers and fans alike as the sweltering wave of heat and humidity that HAD hit the Indianapolis area in recent days abated somewhat Sunday after an overnight rain.
Skies remained mostly cloudy but temperatures were expected to top out in the low-80s, down from the mid-90s on Friday and Saturday.
Montoya was a pre-race favorite not only because he won the pole position in his No. 42 Chevrolet, but because he also had perhaps the strongest car in last year's race before a pit-road speeding penalty ended his chances of winning.
But the Colombian will have his hands full this year with Jimmie Johnson, who starts alongside him on the front row. Johnson, who has won the Cup championship the last four years, also has won the Brickyard 400 three times in his No. 48 Chevy, including the last two years.
Two-time champion Tony Stewart, an Indiana native, also has won the Brickyard 400 twice. He starts 15th on Sunday.
Incidentally, the Brickyard 400 gets its name from the fact that the century-old Indianapolis Motor Speedway once was paved with bricks, a strip of which is still in place at the start-finish line. And now it's a tradition for the race winner to kneel and kiss the bricks as part of his victory celebration.
Look for updates during the race on latimes.com/sports.
-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis
Photo: The front stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday morning ahead of the NASCAR Brickyard 400 race. Credit: Andrew Weber / US Presswire