INDIANAPOLIS — In May, team owner Chip Ganassi had two of racing's most prestigious trophies side by side: the Harley J. Earl Trophy for Jamie McMurray's Daytona 500 win in February and the Borg-Warner Trophy for Dario Franchitti's victory in the Indianapolis 500.
Now Ganassi, the first owner to win both races in the same year, would like to add a third piece of hardware.
Though the trophy for today's Brickyard 400 winner doesn't have the history of the other two, the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is perhaps NASCAR's second most prestigious behind only Daytona.
The chances of Ganassi completing the unprecedented triple are reasonable. McMurray and teammate Juan Montoya both have the speed to win at Indy — Montoya earned the pole Saturday with a lap of 182.278 mph, and McMurray lines up fourth.
"I'm blessed that I've got people that like some of these tracks, I can tell you," Ganassi said. "All these drivers like particular kinds of tracks — there are so few that are good at all of them — and fortunately, at these ones that have the big races, our drivers seem to step up to the plate, and they seem to like those places."
No driver has won both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400. Montoya, who triumphed in the 2000 Indy 500, came close last year when he ran away from the rest of the field in the 400. A pit-road speeding penalty, however, quashed an exceptional run.
Not that Ganassi feels the Brickyard owes him a win.
"The minute you start thinking racing owes you something, I think you're in trouble," Ganassi said. "…But the fact that Indianapolis is where it all started for racing and where it started for me, it would certainly be great to win and have a little extra satisfaction."
Even without a victory today, Ganassi has had a fine season. One of the most special moments didn't occur on the track, but when McMurray flew surreptitiously to Indianapolis to celebrate the Indy 500 win with his owner the day after the race.
"That was the surprise of my season so far," Ganassi said. "Winning the race at Indy and then blasting down to Charlotte to see (McMurray) finish second (in the Coca-Cola 600) … then we flew all night to get back to Indy for the pictures in the morning. So there I am at 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning, after being up till 2 or 3 or something the night before.
"To have him pop his head around the corner, I'll tell you what, that was a pretty neat surprise that all these people had planned that I didn't know anything about. It was pretty special to have those two trophies next to each other and the two guys there who earned those trophies next to each other."
Ganassi hopes there's another special moment in store today.
CUP QUALIFYING: Montoya's pole run denied two Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Jimmie Johnson, the 2008 Brickyard 400 pole-sitter, starts second after a lap of 182.142 mph, and 2009 pole-sitter Mark Martin (181.803) lines up third.