Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

A fraction of a mph cost Juan Pablo Montoya the chance to become the only driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 (a feat which he accomplished in 2000) and the Allstate 400. Montoya, who is Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s only real Chase hope, had a dominant car all day long and was driving like a championship contender until a speeding penalty ended his chances to win. Still, Montoya showed that his learning curve in NASCAR is nearly complete and that he stands to be a threat to win races in the future.

What… was that?

Whether or not Montoya was speeding on pit road, NASCAR certainly made the penalty look awfully convenient, especially when Montoya said after the race that he actually had a lower tachometer reading on the stop where he was penalized than on his previous stop. While I’m not convinced that NASCAR bagged him intentionally and erroneously, this is NASCAR’s problem to fix.

NASCAR upgraded its archaic system of checking pit road speed a few years ago. Why have the cars not undergone a similar upgrade? A tachometer is hardly an exact science for determining speed, and five mph either way doesn’t look much different on my tach, that’s for sure. With all the technology NASCAR and teams have developed, surely they can develop an accurate speedometer.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

Breathing down the race winner’s neck for the win. Mark Martin became the oldest pole winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and in the end, fell one spot short of becoming the oldest winner, finishing second to teammate and defending race winner Jimmie Johnson.

See also
Mark Martin Wins 2009 Brickyard 400 Pole

Johnson said after the race that everyone could take a lesson from Martin about racing and having fun, and it is certainly clear that Martin is enjoying the spoils of a great season to date.

When… will I be loved?

There was really no villain this week among the drivers, and while it’s easy to see why NASCAR races at Indy, the track itself is responsible, though through no fault of its own, for some pretty boring races. When was the last time there was a side-by-side battle for the win at the Brickyard? Indy is a great historic track, but it is not a stock car track. I understand why they have to be there, but I also don’t really look forward to this race like I do at some places like Martinsville and Darlington, stock car tracks both.

Why… so quick with the yellow flags?

It seems that NASCAR was awfully heavy-handed with the yellow flag on Sunday, throwing cautions for a Robby Gordon spin early in which Gordon hit nothing and dropped no debris (Gordon’s claim of oil on the track was disputed by the booth, though there was a small amount of smoke coming from the No. 19), as well as for Kyle Busch’s flat tire, which caused Busch to kiss the wall but not to shed any discernible debris. The philosophy that NASCAR seems to employ also makes little sense; they often throw a flag in a Sprint Cup race that doesn’t fly in a Nationwide or Truck race. Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

How… cool was that?

One of my favorite parts of race day at the track has always been driver introductions, so I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased with ESPN’s showing of introductions in their entirety at Indianapolis. I hope that they continue to do this at every track; it gives fans of every driver a chance to see their guy before the race, and for some, that may be the most TV time they get. Nice job, ESPN. Please keep it up!

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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