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Posted on Sun. Jul. 27, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Brickyard Saturday notebook

Harvick sets new track record in gaining top spot

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INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick hopes his second pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leads to a similar result from his first.

In 2003, Harvick started the Brickyard 400 from the pole position and won, passing Matt Kenseth with 16 laps to go to earn the win.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver set a new pole record with a speed of 188.470 in qualifying on Saturday.

“It's been a long time,” said Harvick about last being on pole at Indianapolis. “This is quite the place to come race, and obviously track position and qualifying is very important here to get your weekend off on the right foot.”

Starting position had been an issue for Harvick at Indianapolis in the half-dozen years prior to this year's pole.

From 2008-13, Harvick had just one top 10 starting spot with an average starting position of 19.3.

Those struggles led to just two top 10 finishes during that time span, including a runner-up finish in 2010.


Montoya lurking

Former NASCAR regular and current IndyCar Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya is all in for Sunday's Brickyard 400. While the majority of his race mates will have points and a championship in their minds somewhere, Montoya is in it strictly looking for a victory.

Montoya qualified eighth for Sunday's race and ESPN analyst Brad Daugherty believes he is one to watch.

“He is going to be a threat this weekend,” said Daugherty earlier this week. He is a world-class race car driver.”

Montoya is in a third car for Team Penske this weekend with the IndyCar Series idle. He joins Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano , both of whom will also start in the top 10 with Keselowski starting second and Logano ninth.

Montoya thought he could have done more in qualifying.

“It's disappointing, but we're eighth and made it through all three rounds of qualifying,” said Montoya, who is looking to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. “I think we have a really good race car, so from there we can do a lot.”


No double for double 8

One of the hot topics around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since Kurt Busch did 'The Double' of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in May is which NASCAR regulars would also be interested in one day trying it.

Count Dale Earnhardt Jr. as one of those who is not interested.

“I don't think I would,” said Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday before qualifying. “I know it's a lot of preparation, and I think it takes a certain mentality, certain type of person.”

Earnhardt Jr. has dabbled in other race series, but has largely focused on developing his own career as a driver and team owner in stock cars.

“We've got so much going on, and I really never aspired to drive open-wheel cars,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I do follow the (IndyCar Series) and have some drivers I pull for, but I was always a stock car guy and just always wanted to race short tracks and bang on fenders.”

Earnhardt Jr. will start Sunday's race from the 23rd position and called his qualifying effort “pathetic.”


Around the garage

With Montoya and Kurt Busch both in Sunday's field, it marks the first time since 2001 that two drivers appeared in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year (Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart) … Ryan Newman will make his eighth start from the top five, the most in Brickyard 400 history … Jeff Gordon will make his fourth start from the front row, tied with Mark Martin for the most front-row starts in the Brickyard 400.

jkenny@news-sentinel.com


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