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Category: Brickyard 400

Danica Patrick, now in NASCAR, will skip Indianapolis 500

Danica Patrick will not race in the Indianapolis 500.
Danica Patrick said Monday she will not race in the Indianapolis 500 this year as she focuses on her shift to NASCAR stock-car racing.

The former IndyCar driver said she would race that day, May 27, in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of 10 races she plans in NASCAR's premier Sprint up Series this year driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.

She also is driving a full schedule in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, a team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Patrick shot to fame when she nearly won the 2005 Indy 500 as a rookie. Given her love of the Memorial Day weekend classic, there was speculation she might enter the race despite her move to NASCAR.

But she told reporters at NASCAR's media tour in the Charlotte area that "I'm not going to do the Indy 500" this year although she added that "I hope to do it in the future."

Patrick also did not rule out driving this year in the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR race held each summer at  Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Danica Patrick signs a fan's shirt during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction festivities Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Paul Menard wins Brickyard 400 for first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win

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Paul Menard joined a list of drivers capturing their first victory in NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series this season by winning the Brickyard 400 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Menard, a 30-year-old Wisconsin native who drives for the team of Richard Childress Racing, passed defending Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray with five laps left in the 160-lap race and then held off Jeff Gordon for the victory.

Menard's win came in his 167th career Cup start, and it was especially sweet because his family, which owns the Mendards home-improvement chain, has raced for years in the Indianapolis 500 open-wheel race.

"I can't believe I won at Indy," Menard said in a television interview after climbing out of his yellow No. 27 Chevrolet. "[There's] a lot of emotion right now."

Gordon, the only four-time winner of the Brickyard 400, finished second in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Regan Smith, who won his first Cup race this year at Darlington, S.C., was third and McMurray ended up fourth in a race where many of the leaders were forced to conserve fuel in the closing stages to reach the checkered flag.

Matt Kenseth was fifth and two-time Brickyard 400 winner Tony Stewart finished sixth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th, pole-sitter David Ragan was 23rd and Jimmie Johnson, the reigning Cup champion and three-time Brickyard 400 winner, finished 19th.

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--Jim Peltz, reporting from Indianapolis

Photo: Paul Menard does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Credit: Jerry Markland / Getty Images

Jeff Gordon leads NASCAR Brickyard 400 at halfway point

Indy
It was all Hendrick Motorsports leading the Brickyard 400 at the halfway point Sunday as Jeff Gordon led teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Gordon, seeing a record fifth Brickyard 400 victory, held a 1.2-second lead over Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion who also is a three-time winner of the Brickyard 400.

Kasey Kahne, who led nearly 40 laps early in the race, was running fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth.

Earnhardt also led several laps earlier in the 160-lap race moments after it appeared he had suffered a big setback.

He was forced to pit his No. 88 Chevrolet because it was overheating, which dropped the fan favorite to 29th. But the caution flag came out a few laps later and, when most of the 43-car field made pit stops, Earnhardt stayed on the track to gain back positions.

When the race restarted, Earnhardt -- who has gone 112 races with a victory -- took the lead and the crowd erupted on the front straightaway.

--Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Kasey Kahne leads the field early in the Brickyard 400 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: John Harrelson  /Getty Images

Question of the Day: Who's going to win the Daytona 500?

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Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Shawn Courchesne, Hartford Courant

The restrictor plate racing that takes place for the Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway is always a crapshoot. Having the fastest car or being the best driver often can mean nothing if no one on the track will help or if the right lane doesn't open up. 

But sometimes unexpected drivers and teams seem to show a bit extra on the big tracks and in the big events.

And that's been the case of late for Jamie McMurray and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team. When McMurray won last year's Daytona 500, it was considered a huge upset. Then McMurray went on to win last year in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also won in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

McMurray isn't a guy many are throwing out there as a favorite to stop the championship winning streak of Jimmie Johnson, but the possibility of McMurray rising to the occasion when the lights are shining brightest can't be discounted.

On Saturday, it was McMurray pushing Kurt Busch past the checkered flag to victory in the exhibition Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Don't be surprised to see Busch returning the favor on Sunday when McMurray becomes the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and '95 to win consecutive Daytona 500s.

Photo: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray at the Daytona International Speedway. Credit: Douglas Jones / US Presswire

Jamie McMurray wins Brickyard 400 NASCAR race at Indianapolis

Jamie

Jamie McMurray held off Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle to win the NASCAR Brickyard 400 on Sunday after McMurray teammate and pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya suffered another late-in-the-race heartbreak at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

McMurray's victory gave his team co-owner, Chip Ganassi, an unprecedented motor-sports trifecta: McMurray also won the Daytona 500 in February, and Dario Franchitti of Ganassi's IndyCar team won this year's Indianapolis 500 in May.

Montoya, himself a former Indy 500 winner before he moved to NASCAR, led 86 laps in the 160-lap race and appeared poised to avenge his disappointment of last year, when he also dominated but finished 11th after a late-race speeding penalty on the pit road.

But with Montoya leading with 23 laps left this year, the caution period came out, and Montoya's crew elected to put four tires on his car. McMurray and several other cars took only two tires and restarted ahead of Montoya.

Once the green flag fell again, Montoya simply faded in the heavy traffic, and then he smacked the wall and hit Dale Earnhardt Jr. Montoya finished 32nd, and Earnhardt was 27th.

In a big surprise, Jimmie Johnson finished 22nd after starting second. Johnson, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion who started second Sunday, had won the Brickyard 400 three times, including the last two.

The race got off to a rocky start when a spinning Kyle Busch triggered a multi-car crash on the second turn of the first lap. Sam Hornish Jr. and David Reutimann also were among the drivers involved.

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Jamie McMurray on his way to winning the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Montoya is NASCAR Brickyard 400 leader after 110 laps

Juan Pablo Montoya held a slim lead over Greg Biffle after 110 laps in the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indy3 Biffle had passed Montoya, the pole-sitter, earlier in the 160-lap race to take the lead. But after the two made green-flag pit stops near the Lap 96 mark, Montoya's stop was a tick faster, and he re-assumed the front spot.

In a big surprise, Jimmie Johnson fell back to 23rd as his No. 48 Chevrolet dropped sharply off the pace. Johnson, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion who started second Sunday, had won the Brickyard 400 three times, including the last two.

The race got off to a rocky start when a spinning Kyle Busch triggered a multi-car crash on the second turn of the first lap. Sam Hornish Jr. and David Reutimann also were among the drivers involved.

But Busch steadily clawed his way back through the field and was running seventh in his No. 18 Toyota prepared by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Several other drivers also experienced various problems with their cars early in the race, including Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jeff Gordon, seeking an unprecedented fifth Brickyard 400 victory, struggled with handling problems on his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and was 14th.

This was the 17th running of the Brickyard 400; NASCAR stock cars began racing at the famed Indy speedway in 1994.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Juan Pablo Montoya (red No. 42) leads the field out of the pits during the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images

Montoya leads NASCAR Brickyard 400 after crash-marred start

Juan Pablo Montoya survived a tire problem to lead the NASCAR Brickyard 400 after 50 laps Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was marred by a multi-car crash on the first lap that included Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr.

Indy2 Several other Sprint Cup Series drivers also had early problems in the 160-lap race, perhaps after their cars ran over debris left from the first-lap crash. Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among those making early, unexpected pit stops that pushed them deep into the 43-car field.

Montoya, the race pole-sitter, led most of the early laps in his No. 42 Chevrolet but developed a tire problem and was forced to pit on lap 38 to have all four tires changed.

But when the other leaders made normal, green-flag pit stops after that, Montoya stayed on the track and resumed the lead on a warm, partly cloudy day at the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Greg Biffle was running second and Mark Martin was third. Jimmie Johnson, a three-time Brickyard 400 winner who started on the outside of the front row, was eighth.

--Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark waves the green flag over Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48) to start the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Multi-car crash in first lap of NASCAR Brickyard 400

The NASCAR Brickyard 400 was only seconds old when several cars were involved in a first-lap crash Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As the 43-car field moved through the second turn, seven Sprint Cup Series drivers were part of a crash that started with a spinning Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. and triggered a caution period.

Other drivers involved included Elliott Sadler, David Reutimann and Reed Sorenson.

There was rain in Indianapolis overnight and, amid concern that the track might be exceptionally slick as a result, NASCAR planned a mandatory caution period after 15 laps of the 160-lap race to check on the track's condition and the cars' tire wear.

Pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya still held the lead, followed by three-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson.

Look for more race updates at latimes.com/sports.

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

NASCAR Brickyard 400 Race Preview

Ims

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

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