Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After taking a week off, the Sprint Cup
Series returns to action this weekend with one of its most prestigious races
of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Nationwide Series will
compete at IMS for the first time. And Formula One is on the road again with
the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.
Sprint Cup Series
Crown Royal/Brickyard 400 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN
Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart feels right at home when
NASCAR makes its annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Stewart, who hails from nearby Columbus, Ind., is a two-time winner of the
400-mile race at Indianapolis. His victories there came in 2005, the same
season he captured his second series championship, and '07. Stewart has
performed exceptionally well at this famed 2.5-mile racetrack, finishing
outside the top-20 only once in his previous 13 starts. He finished 23rd in
the 2008 race.
The week leading up to the Brickyard 400 is generally a busy week for Stewart
in his home state, but he and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team will have
some downtime before Sunday's race.
"The schedule this week is actually a little bit lighter than normal," Stewart
said. "We don't do anything at the speedway until Saturday. So it kind of
gives us one of those days back a little bit to rest, and I'm going to take
full advantage of Friday and watch the Silver Crown cars (at nearby Lucas Oil
Raceway) and the Grand-Am race (at IMS) this weekend before we get started on
With seven races remaining in the regular season, Stewart is virtually assured
of making the 12-driver field for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup
championship. He is currently seventh in the standings, 51-points ahead of
11th-place Carl Edwards. But Stewart's three wins so far this year should be
good enough for him to qualify for the playoffs.
Therefore, Stewart doesn't feel a need to take any calculated risks to make
"We have not talked about strategy yet, and I think the biggest thing for us
right now, even though it's a big weekend, this is one battle in the war, and
the war is to try to win a championship at the end of the season," he said.
"To do that, we have got to beat the system.
"So I don't think an all-or-nothing attitude is the approach we are going to
have this week. We definitely have that luxury to do that with the three wins
that we've got, but I think right now, in the big picture, we are trying to
get the consistency the best we can, and I would like to see us put together
some consistent runs before the Chase actually starts."
Since this is his home race, does Stewart feel more pressure to win at
Indianapolis than any other racetrack?
"I don't," he replied. "I like to win no matter where we're at. It's fun to
win here at home. It's always fun to win at Indianapolis, because it does mean
a lot to me to win there. Probably the best part is we have so many friends
and family that get to come up to the Brickyard. That makes the days even that
"As far as putting pressure on ourselves, I don't think we really do that
anymore. As time has gone on, I think after we won that first one in 2005,
it's just taken a huge weight off our shoulders on that side, and just go at
it every year with the attitude that we know what it takes to win there, and
we try to do our best to accomplish it."
Ryan Newman, who is Stewart's teammate, and David Stremme also hail from the
"Hoosier State." Newman and Stremme grew up in South Bend.
"The history of the sport, the history of motorsports at the speedway is
something I have always appreciated, and I look forward to trying to add my
name to that record book," said Newman, who is currently 14th in points.
Newman has only one top-10 finish in 11 starts at Indianapolis. He placed
fourth there during his 2002 rookie season.
Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon was born in Vallejo, Calif. but grew up
near IMS in Pittsboro, Ind. Gordon holds the record for most Sprint Cup
victories at Indy with four. He won the inaugural race there in 1994. His
other wins at this track came in 1998, 2001 and '04. He finished second in
last year's race.
"Growing up here and going to the track numerous times as a kid, there is just
something special about each trip here," said Gordon, who has competed in all
18 previous races at Indy. "But that special feeling changes quickly when I
get out on the track, because this place is so challenging."
The 400-miler at Indianapolis is arguably the second most prestigious race on
the Sprint Cup schedule -- the Daytona 500 being the first.
Three drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.
Dale Jarrett first did it in 1994. Jimmie Johnson accomplished the feat in
2006, and Jamie McMurray did so in 2010.
Matt Kenseth won this year's Daytona 500. Kenseth comes to Indianapolis as the
points leader. His best finish in 12 races at this track is second, which came
in 2003 and '06.
"I really feel like Indy is the second biggest race of the year, and everyone
wants to have the chance to be able to win that race, win the trophy and kiss
the bricks there," Kenseth said. "Indy is one of the most unique tracks that
we visit on the circuit. With our time on track there being so limited without
any testing and just a few practices, you really just unload and try to get up
to speed on things as soon as you can to tune in your car."
Last year, Paul Menard became the first driver to score his first career
Sprint Cup win at Indianapolis. Menard gambled on fuel late in the race. He
passed McMurray for the lead with four laps to go and then fended off a
challenge from Gordon during the last couple of laps for his maiden victory in
his 167th NASCAR big league start.
"We were fortunate enough to win the race last year and kiss the bricks, and
like to do that again, for sure," Menard said. "We have to get better as a
team. We are sitting 15th in points, lost a few spots last week (at New
Hampshire), but in order to contend for race wins, we have got to get better,
and we all understand that, and we are all working hard towards it."
Forty-seven teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Crown Royal 400 at
Indy 250 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN
Danica Patrick raced in the Indianapolis 500 each year from 2005-11. Now she's
set to compete in a stock car race at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway
for the first time.
After running at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly known as Indianapolis
Raceway Park and O'Reilly Raceway Park) for the past 30 years, the Nationwide
Series will make its debut at the Brickyard this weekend.
Nationwide teams will practice there throughout the day on Thursday. The 250-
mile race is slated for Saturday, with qualifying to be held earlier that day.
Patrick is in her first full-season in NASCAR's second-tier series, driving
the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. She is presently ninth in the point
standings, with only one top-10 finish (eighth at Texas). Patrick is also
running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule this season. There had been
speculation earlier this year that she would add Indianapolis to her Sprint
Cup calendar, but recently, she announced that Kansas Speedway would complete
her 10-race schedule for 2012.
"I'm looking forward to driving in a stock car at Indianapolis," Patrick said.
"It's obviously going to be a little slower than an Indy Car. But I have such
good memories, and I feel so good when I come into the track and just see the
facility. I think those good emotions, those positive emotions, a lot of times
can translate to a good weekend, so I look forward to that.
"I look forward to seeing the fans from Indianapolis. My parents and sister
live there now. It should be a fun weekend, and I look forward to the
experience in a stock car."
Patrick has the distinction of being the only female to lead in the Indy 500.
She is also the highest finishing woman in that event's history. Patrick
placed third in the 2009 race. She finished in the top-10 in six of her seven
Indy 500 starts.
When Patrick races at IMS this weekend, she will be at the helm of a 3,450-
pound stock car rather than a much lighter Indy car, which weighs roughly
"In an Indy car, there's no lifting, and it's right around the bottom of the
track, and it's a big high-speed chess match out there with cars running very
close to each other," she said. "In a stock car, you run a more traditional
line, and there's lifting. Perspective-wise, they definitely have a different
feel, based on the lines that you run. In an Indy car, you sit so low. That
happens everywhere I go when I've been there in an Indy car and a stock car.
It's always just a little bit different."
Patrick recently made some laps around the 2.5-mile oval in a stock car. She
took ABC News correspondent and long-time television news anchor Katie Couric
for a ride in a two-seated version of a stock car.
"It feels really good to be at the track," Patrick said earlier this month
when she was at Indy. "I enjoyed the laps that I made out there. I really
enjoyed coming out of turn four and coming down the front straightaway and
seeing everything again."
Couric interviewed Patrick at IMS for an upcoming segment on her new daytime
TV talk show, which is set to debut later this year.
Indianapolis is the third of four consecutive "Dash 4 Cash" races in
Nationwide. Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Michael
Annett are those eligible for the $100,000 bonus from series title sponsor
Nationwide Insurance. Rookie Austin Dillon collected the cash award with his
third-place run in the July 14 event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, while
Sadler claimed the bonus with his victory in last Sunday's race at Chicagoland
Speedway. Next week's event at Iowa Speedway is the final D4C round this year.
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the inaugural Indy 250.
Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Joey
Logano and Paul Menard, the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner, are those Sprint Cup
regulars scheduled to compete in the Nationwide race at Indianapolis.
Hungarian Grand Prix - Hungaroring - Budapest, Hungary
Fernando Alonso has emerged as the favorite to win this year's Formula One
world championship after winning his third grand prix of the season last
Sunday in Hockenheim, Germany.
Alonso had a superb performance in the German Grand Prix, starting on the pole
and relinquishing the lead just briefly when he pitted for the first time in
the 67-lap event. The Ferrari driver fought off challenges from Red Bull's
Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button in the closing laps to claim his
30th career F1 win.
Vettel crossed the finish line in second but was later demoted to fifth place
when race stewards penalized him with 20 seconds on his finishing time for
illegally passing Button at the exit of the hairpin on the penultimate lap.
Button was elevated from third place to second.
With the win, Alonso padded his lead in the championship standings. The
Spaniard has now accumulated 154 points for the season, which is 34 more than
his closest competitor, Mark Webber from Red Bull. Vettel, the two-time
defending F1 titleholder, is 44 points behind.
Alonso won back-to-back championships from 2005-06, driving for Renault at the
F1 travels to Budapest this week for the Hungarian Grand Prix before taking a
month-long summer break in August. The schedule will resume with the September
2 Belgian Grand Prix.
Alonso is hoping to win his 31st F1 grand prix on Sunday, which ironically is
the day he celebrates his 31st birthday.
"In Hungary, we need to make a perfect preparation and qualifying again,"
Alonso said. "You can be starting in 12th or 13th if you make a little
mistake, so we need to approach the race in the same way we did the last
couple of races. We'll try to maximize what we have in Hungary and hopefully
bring in some new parts that can help us in that circuit."
Alonso won the March 25 Malaysian Grand Prix and the June 24 European Grand
Prix before Germany. Prior to the start of the season, it looked as though
Alonso would be a long shot for the title since Ferrari endured numerous
performance and reliability issues with its cars during pre-season testing.
Ferrari has apparently figured out those problems.
"I think at the moment the car seems okay in all areas," Alonso said. "There
are not any weak points, as maybe we had at the beginning of the season. We
were suffering a little bit on traction and top speed. Now, I think that we
are okay on that. In Hungary, I think with these slow speed corners, traction,
etc., I don't see any problem with the car, and we should be competitive
Alonso's first F1 win came in the 2003 Hungarian GP. He finished third in this
event last year.
Button is the defending race winner. His victory there came in his 200th grand
"Hungary is a very special place for me," Button said. "I won my first grand
prix there back in 2006. I celebrated my 200th grand prix there on the
Saturday evening (last year) with some of my oldest friends and colleagues in
the paddock, and I went on to win the Grand Prix on Sunday. It was the perfect
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