ETC.: Crew chief Scott Graves said, "It would be awesome to get our first top-10 at Indy, a track with so much history. Qualifying on Saturday is super important so we will work hard on Friday to get our car dialed in for qualifying on Saturday. Ricky has only raced at Indy once so there will be learning curve but I feel confident that we can have a strong performance at Indy."
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 22nd, 83 points out of the top 10, 47 points out of the top 20.
INDY RECORD: Finished 20th a year ago for his best finish in five starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose points out that "I am blessed to have had the opportunity to race around the world. I have raced on tracks throughout Europe, back home in Australia and now here in the United States. I can tell you, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has an unmatched history of any track. It has its own place in motorsports history and that's what makes it so special. Any driver wants to win a race at Indianapolis."
LOOKING BACK: Ambrose was involved in an early-race accident at Loudon and ended the day in 33rd place.
ETC.: Ambrose said he "enjoys watching as much of the Indianapolis 500 each May as possible. I know some of the guys and it's always a great race to watch. I think they watch us too when we race here in July. They respect that we can race these heavier stock cars around the track. It gives us and the open-wheel guys some common ground."
42 JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, Chevrolet
Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
WHERE HE STANDS: 23rd, 99 points out of the top 10, 53 points out of the top 20.
INDY RECORD: One top-five finish, a second, in six races.
LOOKING AHEAD: Montoya feels this may be the year he finally wins Indy. In 2009, he dominated the race, leading a race-high 116 laps. But he was penalized for speeding on pit road as he made his final stop of the race. Montoya ended up 11th. A year later, Montoya led 86 laps, but a decision to change all four tires on a late pit stop dropped him out of the lead. He restarted seventh and was extremely aggressive and got caught up in a late-race accident that left him in 32nd-place.
LOOKING BACK: Montoya finished 24th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He spent the week off on his farm outside his native Bogota, Columbia.
ETC.: Montoya believes the future is quite bright at EGR. "We have the right people now," said Montoya. "We have the ability now and the future is even brighter. The encouraging thing is we're actually starting to see the light again. It's fun. It's been a year of ups and down, but the downs are now 16th and the ups are nearly wins. Last year an up was 25th. It was painful."
10 DANICA PATRICK, Chevrolet
Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
WHERE SHE STANDS: 27TH, 173 points out of the top 10.
INDY RECORD: Will be making her Sprint Cup debut. She had six top-10 finishes in seven Indianapolis 500 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Patrick said, "I don't care what I drive around Indy, I love being there. I just like everything about it. I like the facility, obviously. And to me, the special thing about Indy is, obviously, I've had great experiences, but it's all about the track. The older I get, the more I realize how much history and tradition plays a role in what's important and what matters and what means the most to you."
LOOKING BACK: Patrick was another driver involved in a late-race accident at Loudon as she finished 37th.
ETC.: Patrick tested at Indy earlier this month, and she discovered driving a stock car around the 2.5-mile track isn't much different than driving an off-wheel car. "It's just about finding a balance with car out there, which is no different than in an Indy car," said Patrick. "In an Indy car, we learned very quickly that it's about how much throttle you could carry around. The stock cars get very low in the corners, and that can be a little bit of a danger in an Indy car, especially if you get just a little bit too low and get a little loose. So that's a little bit different, I suppose, but nothing that was terribly unexpected."
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 29th, 209 points out of the top 10. The team is ranked 13th in the car owner standings and second in the wild card standings with one win.