Race: Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard
Date: Sunday July 24, 2016
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 3 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Matt Kenseth managed to take the win this weekend at New Hampshire, leaving many drivers very disappointed with seemingly decent finishes. One of those drivers, Kevin Harvick, actually said he was disgusted with his top 5 finish because of the reason behind it. Iíll give him that. Harvick is generally on point when it comes to his driving. Rarely does he make an on-track mistake. It tends to be his pit crew that put him behind, and thatís exactly what happened again on Sunday. Chase Elliot struggled as well, failing to finish on the lead lap for the 3rd race in a row. The mistakes are costly at this point in the season, especially for someone trying to win his way into the Chase. A couple of other drivers, particularly Biffle and McMurray, are showing some consistency with top 10 finishes. They are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with and not to be counted out just yet.
The biggest story, however, is Jr. being benched for New Hampshire and the foreseeable future. Kansas took a toll on Jr., giving him yet another concussion. Heís had quite a few throughout his racing career and stated that his health is his ultimate concern. He said that he didnít make the choice he wanted to make by sitting out of races, but heís making the choice that he has to make. Clearly, this is going to put a damper on his abilities to get into the Chase, sitting out in the middle of the season. Last weekend, Alex Bowman sat in for Jr., coming home with a 26th place finish. This weekend, at the prestigious Brickyard, there are rumors swirling that Jeff Gordon will be tapped to sit in for Jr. If so, what better of a driver than Jeff Gordon? That would be pretty incredible to have someone with such a talent for Indy take your spot. Gordon would most certainly be a favorite to win the race and he would absolutely be capable of doing it.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is by far the most well-known track in the country. It hosts a multitude of events on top of the NASCAR races. Ultimately, this track is not conducive to stock car racing simply due to its configuration. Itís basically a rectangle. Think about that. Think about these massive heavy cars trying to get into the corners with the speed that they carry. Each turn is a quarter-mile, with the stretches coming in at 5/8 of a mile. Between the turns, there is a 1/8 mile stretch. On top of that type of configuration, the track is pretty darn flat as well. This creates yet another challenge for these drivers as they try to maneuver around this track. When it comes to winning here, though, it typically comes down to fuel mileage. Pit stops and pit strategy will be paramount here this weekend. Are you listening, Kevin Harvick? No excuses for the pit crews this weekend. If drivers want to take home this prestigious trophy, no mistakes can happen on pit road.
Now, Iím in a pickle for picking the winner this weekend. If Jeff Gordon does take Jr.ís ride, which will likely happen, heís going to be on the top of the leader board for sure. The only other major competitor here, who I do think will take a win, is Tony Stewart. So, Stewart is not someone I wouldíve imagined putting back into victory lane this year, but heís really stepped up his game. Heís making late race changes and coming home strong over the last few weeks. With 2 wins at Indy already and some pretty good momentum considering what heís been dealing with, you better believe that Stewart is going to do his best to kiss the bricks this weekend. Here are your potential winners as we head to Indy:
My Pick to Win: Tony Stewart
Middle of the Road Pick: Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Prediction: Danica Patrick
I already here the snickers for putting Danica on my winners list. BUT, think about her history here. If there is any track that we can expect her to potentially win on, this is it! Sheís been competitive here in the past in a stock car, and this is her shot to actually show people that she can compete at this level. Iím still not convinced that she should be racing in this league. She really needs to step up her game. On that note, McMurray has definitely stepped up his game and seems to be moving in the right direction. While horsepower is a trendy word for this track, McMurray seems to do well at flat tracks and also fuel mileage. I do think that cars will need to carry speed and horsepower, but a lot of this race is simply driver ability. With the history of this race and also with everything at stake at this point in the season, thereís a good shot for someone we may not necessarily expect to take a win. Bet these picks at Topbet Sportsbook (Get a 50% bonus on your first deposit up to $250 FREE!).
Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kurt Busch
4. Carl Edwards
5. Joey Logano
6. Kyle Busch
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Chase Elliott
12. Ryan Newman
13. Austin Dillon
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
16. Trevor Bayne
The other big name drivers, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, etc., will obviously still be very competitive. This is a race, though, that takes on a different kind of mentality. Stewart wants this win. If Jeff Gordon drivers the 88, he will likely be at the front of the pack as well. This is one of those places where drivers drive a little differently and some pretty crazy things can potentially happen. Stay tuned for a weekend of historic proportions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
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Virginia Vroom's Picks - Most people think Danica Patrick is auto racing's most popular female. We have something to say about that! She can flat out pick'em!
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