Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crazy Start to a Historic Brickyard 400

The first few laps of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were more surreal than those melting clocks of Salvador Dali.

And it began with a bang.

Kyle Busch lost control of his No. 18 Toyota on lap one. And this uncharacteristic error caused a pileup which collected seven cars total, including Sam Hornish Jr., Elliot Sadler and Reed Sorenson.

The collision also set in motion a series of events which had something to do with the turf Busch tore through on the infield, that then attached to the grilles of multiple cars. The adhesive grass caused multiple cars to overheat and pretty soon, steamingcars were pitting left and right.

Then Max Papis' No. 13 car blew an engine and caught fire. More tires blew up. And, for a bit, it appeared we may be in for the second installment of the 2008 Indy disaster.

But in a few more laps things settled down. And it became clear that Juan Pablo Montoya would dominate the race.

But NASCAR, like Juan Pablo, is nothing, if not unpredictable. And when Montoya's crew chief Brian Pattie called for four tires during the last pit stop (instead of two, like most of the cars out front), Montoya became mired in traffic. And his previous domination was all for naught.

And Montoya wasn't happy about it.

On lap 146, while trying to make up some ground and regain the lead, Montoya overdrove his No. 42 Chevy right into the turn two wall. On his slide back down the track, he was hit by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who simply had nowhere else to go.

The incident ended Montoya's night. And suddenly his Earnhardt-Ganassi teammate, Jamie McMurray was sitting in what minutes before seemd Montoya's spot by rights.

McMurray took full advantage of his track position. And he nosed past leader Kevin Harvick to open a sizable lead. Then it was an easy cruise to the checkers.

Today's win put McMurray into elite company - he's now only the third driver in history to win the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same yaer (the other two are Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson).

But, more importantly, it put Chip Ganassi in the history books and possibly a new exhibit at the Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum. With McMurray's victory, Ganassi became the first team owner in history to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 (with driver Dario Franchitti) and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.

Call Ganassi's feat the trifecta, the triple crown or the holy trinity.  But whatever you call it, this year's Brickyard was simply surreal.

Photo info: Jamie McMurray and team owner Chip Ganassi celebrate after McMurray won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday - Associated Press.

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