After a week off, the Sprint Cup drivers should be well rested and focused on the big race at Indianapolis on Sunday.
One burning question heading into the 2009 Allstate 400 is: "Will there be another tire fiasco like last year when the Goodyear tires that the teams had to run failed, forcing NASCAR to display the caution flag every 20 laps or so to bring the cars in before the tires tore apart?"
More after the jump.
I think the answer is no.
NASCAR and Goodyear cannot, I repeat cannot, have another race like the one last year.
NASCAR has experienced a decline in TV ratings this year and could you imagine what would happen to those ratings if NASCAR was to have another race like last year on its hands? Ad revenues would surely decline as a result of the poor TV ratings that would occur -- something NASCAR can't afford, especially in this economy.
NASCAR and Goodyear have been working hard to get this tire issue solved. So hard, in fact, that, since last year, Goodyear has had seven tire tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, involving 31 drivers. If this doesn't show NASCAR and Goodyear are worried about putting on a good show for the fans, then I don't know what does.
So who should you watch in the race? The obvious answer is Chevy drivers Jeff Gordon, who has four wins in this race, and Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, with two wins each at this track.
In the "Where did he come from?" category, I'd keep an eye on Mark Martin who in the past three races here has a 7.3 average finish, as well as 2007's runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya, who could become the only driver in history to win both the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400.
You can bet Montoya wants to win this race more than any other on the NASCAR circuit except maybe the Daytona 500 and you can bet he'll pull out all the stops.
Also, don't count out Toyota driver Kyle Busch or Ford driver Carl Edwards, but, since Chevy has won 10 of the 15 NASCAR races held at Indy, I'd bet on the newly fiscally fit General Motors drivers.
Here is a bit of trivia: Name the only NASCAR driver to not kiss the bricks after winning at Indy?
Answer: Dale Earnhardt. The tradition didn't start until 2006 and Dale won in 2005 and although Jeff Gordon won in 2004 he has since won 3 more times at Indy and has kissed the bricks those times.