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NASCAR At Indy: Jimmie Johnson Leads After 40 Laps, Seeking Fourth Triumph

Jimmie Johnson has already cemented his legacy as an auto racing great, thanks to his five-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup titles. He can add to his resume today with a fourth win in the Brickyard 400, which he leads after 40 laps.

In the 101-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, only four men have won four times on the track's oval configuration. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears all won the Indianapolis 500 on four occasions. Jeff Gordon is the lone four-time champ in the Brickyard 400 and could become the Speedway's first five-time oval winner and second overall (Michael Schumacher won the US Grand Prix Formula 1 race on a road course circuit in the track five times).

Johnson's career at Indianapolis has been feast or famine. Of course, he has the three victories in 2006, 2008, and 2009. The latter two make him the lone driver in the event's 18-year history to have won the race in consecutive seasons. When he hasn't won, however, Johnson has endured miserable finishes. He has just one top-10, a ninth in his first run at the venerable old Speedway in 2002. Two of Johnson's worst crashes in a Sprint Cup car have come at Indy, with a blown right front tire sending him into the fourth turn wall in 2005 and a left front failure leading to a fiery turn three crash. Johnson spent the night in the hospital after his '05 crash, his lone trip to the hospital following a crash at NASCAR's top level.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.