INDIANAPOLIS -- I've put down eight hours of sleep since picking Tony Stewart to win the Brickyard 400 today, and it still doesn't look crazy to me.
The guy's had his struggles this year, but sometimes that's exactly the guy who winds up winning this thing. It's a race for techies and luckmeisters -- pit strategy and track position is everything here -- but it's also a race that, because of the above, sometimes confers its blessing on the least likely of characters. See Paul Menard two years ago, Ricky Rudd in 1997, an aging Bill Elliott in 2002.
Stewart has it all over them, in that he knows how to drive this track, loves driving it, and knows how to win here, having done it twice. Plus, he usually races well when he qualifies well, and he qualified fifth Saturday -- his best qualifying effort of the season, and the first time he'll be starting a race in the top ten since Fontana back in March.
So, I'll stick with Smoke.
I'll also stick with this: By next year, two years at most, the Brickyard 400 will be a Saturday night race. Driving into a nearly-deserted Speedway this morning confirmed that for me. This race has worn out its welcome with fans -- scuttlebutt around the media center this morning is that the Speedway will be ecstatic if it draws anywhere close to 120,000, and from the looks of it right now (90 minutes before the green) that looks wildly optimistic -- and moving it to night will give it a bump for a couple of years at least, because everyone will want to see what racing under the lights at IMS will look like.
So, on with the show.