It’s all about the hometown boys in my picks this weekend. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon both grew up in Indiana and would love nothing more than to both get their first wins of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Stewart is from downstate Columbus, Indiana.He cut his teeth on the short tracks and dirt tracks. His past success at IMS was with Joe Gibbs Racing. He has two wins at IMS, along with five top fives and seven top 10 finishes.
His season has not gone exactly as planned. After a great first year at Stewart Haas Racing, there had been a noticeable drop off early in the year.
"It was kind of frustrating from that stand point, and we couldn't really put our finger on what we were doing different and what we were doing wrong that was causing us to not have that kind of performance. It seems like this year, we got a slow start to the year, and it seems like we are picking it up, so hopefully we're having the polar opposite of what we had last year. We are going to start slow and finish strong this year" Stewart said.
Stewart’s four top fives and nine top 10’s has him sitting ninth in the standings and very much on the bubble of making the Chase.
In five of his last six races he has scored top 10 finishes including three top fives.
Stewart will contend on Sunday afternoon for the win and if he has any say you will have to get by him first.
For Gordon his season actually has been pretty good, in fact he is arguably the hottest driver in the garage. He comes to IMS with five top five finishes in a row and currently sits in second in the standings behind Kevin Harvick.
Gordon grew up in nearby Pittsboro, IN and dreamed of running open wheel at IMS. Instead Gordon career took him to stock cars and he went on to win the very first NASCAR race at IMS. Gordon leads the series with 10 top fives and currently has 11 top 10 finishes.
The only thing alluding Gordon and his team are the wins. They have been close at Las Vegas, Phoenix, Martinsville, Darlington and Texas all these tracks they were in position to win, but could not close the deal.
"At times we've had the car. For whatever reasons -- blame it on me, blame it on incidents, I don't like to point fingers -- but we haven't gotten to victory lane. ...We think we've got some things up our sleeve for Indy, but I'm sure that's what a lot of guys out there are thinking" Gordon said.
At IMS, Gordon has four wins, nine top fives and 13 top 10 finishes in his career. His average finish is a solid 8.6. For both Stewart and Gordon the wins will come for both of them this season.
Both drivers have said their focus is on the Chase and getting stronger for NASCAR’s version of playoffs.
Don’t get them wrong they want to win and they want to win badly. On Sunday the battle of the home town racers could come to a head at auto racing's most historic track.