Juan Pablo Montoya already has his name in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway history books after a convincing victory in the 2000 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, but he's one step closer to a new level of immortality after taking the 2010 Brickyard 400 pole July 24.
Montoya could become the first driver in IMS history to win both major oval events at the world-renowned 2.5-mile track. He won the "500" in 2000 as a rookie, leading 167 laps, and on Saturday he beat three-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson to the pole, turning a lap of 182.278 mph in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.
"It was a good lap," Montoya said. "I think in (Turn) 2, I got a little tight and I had to brake a little bit coming off, but I don't think it was a major deal.
"The car has been pretty good. You know, we came here and tested and when we got off the truck, it was good; put it in the truck, it was good; brought it here, it was good. So (we) just got to make sure, you know, like Chip (Ganassi) says, do everything right tomorrow and see what happens."
The Brickyard 400 starts at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 25.
Montoya or his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray also could deliver team co-owner Chip Ganassi his first stock car win at Indianapolis, in the same year McMurray won the Daytona 500 and Dario Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 for Ganassi's Target-sponsored IZOD IndyCar Series team.
"It's a pretty special thing to come back here each year," Ganassi said. "This is where racing started and where obviously my career got jump-started, if you will.
"Good performance today by the team and the driver. It's a long day, and we have a lot of things to do yet. This is just one step in a long flight of steep stairs for the weekend."
Johnson will start alongside Montoya after posting a lap of 182.142 in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Mark Martin will start third in the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet after a lap of 181.803. McMurray qualified fourth in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet at 181.748.
Among the drivers with Indiana ties, Ryan Newman was fastest with a fifth-place qualifying effort at 181.741 in the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet. Four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon will start eighth in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, and two-time winner Tony Stewart will start 15th in the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet.
1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve qualified for his first Brickyard 400, and at the drop of the green flag on Sunday will join Montoya as the only drivers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history to compete in all three of the track's major auto racing events: the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Formula One United States Grand Prix.
Villeneuve drove in the "500" twice, earning Chase Rookie of the Year honors in 1994 before winning in 1995, and the USGP at Indianapolis five times - in 2000-03 and again in 2006, with a best finish of fourth in 2000.
BRICKYARD 400 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, eighth): "We're still learning the spoiler a little bit. You should see some great racing. This is the only time all year that you want to draw an early number. As we saw, the track temp went up to 140 degrees yesterday, and it's close to 100 now. It's going to continue to go up, and every five cars is probably 4 or 5 degrees of track temp and at the speed the grip is going to go away. Once you get out there in the race, it's the same for everybody. It might be slicker if it's hot, but I think it is going to be a little bit cooler on Sunday than it has been."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge, 25th): "The earlier you can go out and qualify here, the better off you're going to be. We were just way too tight. We were too free getting into the corners yesterday (Friday), so we worked all through our second session trying to make our car better on entry, but we screwed it up on exit. The one good thing about running here at Indianapolis is that we have four practices instead of two, so that will give us a little more time to get exactly where we need to be. I'm not happy with my qualifying run. It definitely could have been worse. With the way that everything works out - how the cars handle, pit strategy - there's a lot of things we can do to negate that qualifying a little bit. We'll have to work real hard to make the Dodge car better in traffic. This race is long enough. There are enough pit stops where you can definitely make a difference."
DAVID STREMME (No. 26 Air Guard/gtwgps.com Ford, DNQ): "It's just hot, and we've been just fair all weekend."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, fourth): "It would be incredible to win both races (the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400) in one year. We've got really good cars here. We put in a solid qualifying lap, so we'll see what happens this afternoon when we get all of our final practices in. We thought yesterday our race trim was really good. But at this race, if you make one mistake, you can't overcome it. We just have to have a mistake-free day on the driver and pit crew, and we should have a good car. We're good, but these races are long and it doesn't take a lot to take that away from you. I led this race with 16 laps to go and dominated this race in 2003 and finished third. So it's about not making any mistakes."
TONY STEWART (No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, 15th): "We'll take what we can get and get ready for tomorrow. It was slick, actually a lot slicker than I thought it was going to be. We had the perfect draw and we wanted to capitalize on it, but it's been a hot week here in Indiana. We thought we had a perfect run, but it was still hot and slick out there."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Budweiser Ford, 24th): "I think the conditions are fine. We just really missed it with our car, but it seemed like the conditions were fine. My car was just tight. It wouldn't turn. I couldn't get the car to turn as good as it needed to. We just have got to keep working on it."
CLINT BOWYER (No. 33 Wheaties Fuel Chevrolet, sixth): "We were fourth in practice, but I thought the draw (23rd) was going to hurt us pretty bad. Our car was fast, and I had a good lap. I messed up Turn 2 a little bit. I gave up a tenth over there. All in all, it was a good run for our Wheaties Fuel Chevrolet. This place is definitely tricky, but everybody has stepped up their game on this race team, and it was up to me to do the same today." (About making the Chase): "Our cars are good enough, and the boys are working really hard. Just a little bit of Lady Luck, and we'll be right there. I feel like, not only can we beat the 12 car but on up and beat the ninth- and 10th-place cars."
BRAD KESELOWSKI (No. 12 Penske Dodge, 11th): "It's a lot of work, but it's always a lot of fun when you have two fast race cars. Our Penske Dodge cars over here on the Cup side (with teammate Sam Hornish Jr.) ran some good laps, actually better than we were in practice, and I'm really encouraged by that and I'm confident it will carry over to the race. We'll keep working on it and see if we can have a good run in both cars."
GREG BIFFLE (No. 16 3M Ford, seventh): "It was a good run, and it's all because of these guys (pit crew). Our car wasn't that good yesterday, and they kept working on it. This is our latest and greatest chassis and one of our best cars coming out of the race shop. And I'm happy for them. I'm excited. The engine ran really good. Last year we qualified up front, and we ran up front. That was a perfect lap for us. I was a little nervous. I had been watching on TV and I knew going out late the track would be hot. That was a conservative lap. I think this car could go faster, for sure."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 09 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, 36th): "Not, it's really not that much tougher even with the heat. It's just hot. It wasn't quite what we had hoped for, but I think it's good enough to get in."
MAX PAPIS (No. 13 GEICO Toyota, 35th): "This is my second attempt (to attempt to qualify for his first Brickyard 400). I'm really proud of getting the Geico Toyota in the race. I feel it is a really, really special opportunity for me, and I am proud of everybody. We were solid like a rock. It's not easy to go out there and be outside the top 35, knowing that if you make a small mistake you're going to go home. I drove the car exactly like I did in practice, but the track allowed me to go a little harder. We came here with one goal in mind - making the race. We did it, and now we'll see the true colors of the Geico Toyota race team come race time. I'm excited. This thing is fast."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, fifth): "It was a good time, given the time of day we went out. Man, it's hot here; I don't know what happened. I don't know if it's global warming or El Niño. This is like Darlington on Labor Day weekend. The draw means so much here. As hot as it was at 10 o'clock, 84 degrees (ambient temperature), that is ridiculous in itself. It's just the luck of the draw every year we come to Indy. I wonder, "What if?" but Mark (Martin) went out and beat me, so he could "what if?" it more than I could. We've got a couple of hours to work on it. We have a couple of good starting points based on our practices. We'll see what we can think up." (Top-10 finish?): "That's my thought. Effort, man, spot effort is what it takes - aerodynamics and horsepower - obviously Chevrolet has done their homework. We brought a special race car here, and I think it's paying off. It's just a matter of putting the best race car on the track that you possibly can."
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, 12th): "I would have liked to have picked up more than we did. I'm pretty disappointed in myself because I had a pretty sloppy lap. The car drove pretty good, and the track has a lot of grip right now. We had a good draw. This is the track where a season turns from a decent season into a good season. We've got to keep working hard to get into those Top 10s and pick up some top-five finishes."
KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, ninth): "I made four corners, and everything ended up fine. You have to have a good-handling car here so you can use your speed. Track position is also important because it is hard to pass. It all boils down to having a fast car, running faster than everyone else, and finishing first."
JEFF BURTON (No. 31 Prilosec OTC Chevrolet, 10th): "I think it was a solid lap. We went early, and there's a lot of guys yet to go after us so we can't really complain about the time. The car was solid. I made a little mistake coming out of Turn 3, and it kind of messed my rhythm up through Turn 4. I thought we went through Turn 1 and Turn 2 really well, though. It's been a good weekend, and I'm looking forward to the race." (On the performance of his teammates): "Richard Childress Racing has done an awesome job of getting us good equipment. Our engines are even stronger than last year, and we're able to drive the cars a little more aggressively and put up good times. We've got better stuff yet to come, and I'm proud to be a part of this."
CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 Aflac Ford, 19th): "We really fast through Turn 1 and Turn 2, and I overdrove Turn 3 and then touched the curb in Turn 4, which ended up costing me a bunch of time. I lost all of my time in the last part of the lap, but we've got a great race car and I'm looking forward to getting some more practice on it. This is probably the strongest car I've had in all my races, so I'm pretty pumped for Race Day." (On the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "Indy is really special. The first time I ever came here was for one of the early test sessions, and I polished wheels on Kenny Schrader's car. I was just in awe of everything, and I just couldn't believe I was here. So to be able to come back here as a driver and be able to compete on this circuit is an honor."
DENNY HAMLIN (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 18th): "I had to work the car pretty hard out there. It's tough when you have all three Joe Gibbs cars going out 31st, 32nd and 33rd. We knew the track was pretty hot, and we went out there and struggled a little bit. We didn't have the fastest car when it came to qualifying, and we're barely happy with our run, but it was good to put that time inside the top 20. This car is new and it's real fast in race conditions, so we're looking forward to tomorrow."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (No. 32 Dollar General Toyota, 43rd): "It's very pleasing, very special, especially since we didn't get a lot of laps. It's the first time the team has come here, and it's a new car. And I haven't been in a Cup car in over two years. It's a little bit stressed, but it turned out fine. We found the missing speed finally. the car was a little nervous, but it was quick enough to get in the show and that was the key. Now we have a practice to actually work on the setup, which we didn't have time to do yesterday."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, 17th): "It felt pretty good. I wanted to run a little better than that. The car was not too bad. I might have overdriven it, too. We started yesterday (Friday) really, really loose, Mark and me both. We both over adjusted. We just have to figure out where our sweet spot is. I feel pretty good about it. There are some things that we want to try. The grip was there. It was a little bit tight in Turn 2. The track is in good shape. The track will keep changing, getting tighter and tighter. We just have to keep freeing the car up and anticipate the track (conditions) Sunday."
KYLE BUSCH (No. 18 M&M's Toyota, 23rd): "The car drove awesome in qualifying; it just didn't go anywhere."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, 31st): "We ran faster than we did in practice, but still, it isn't good enough. You can't do anything about the draw, and I know some guys ran faster in that deal. What we try to fight and what they try to fight is a whole different war at the end of the day."
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