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Brickyard 400 Predictions

Race: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400
Date: Sunday July 23, 2017
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 2:30 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

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Denny Hamlin managed to end the 23 race winless streak for the JGR garage this weekend at New Hampshire after holding off Kyle Larson to take the win! It was a cherry on top of the ice cream for JGR, who has struggled for the majority of this season. With that, there was also a celebration for the takeover of the #20 car of Matt Kenseth for the 2018 season. It was announced that Erik Jones will replace Kenseth, with no set stones for where Kenseth will end up. Heís had his fair share of struggles this year. Honestly, Kenseth is a solid driver, but the whole organization has been falling off for some reason. Maybe a change of scenery will do him well. Maybe weíre seeing Kenseth step out of racing? Who knows these days. Nonetheless, the JGR organization had a lot to be thankful for this weekend!

Speaking of Kyle Larson, this kid is on FIRE! Another second place finish is keeping him atop the points standings. Heís really going to be one to watch when we get to the Chase this year. Martin Truex Jr.ís stats are making him quite the one to catch, though. In fact, Truex Jr. leads Larson by 38 points. Heís got 3 race wins and 14 (yes, 14!) stage wins. Heís the only driver so far to have won every stage of a race. Now, thatís not to put down Larson. Heís got a solid 2 wins with 3 stages wins as well. This puts him with a total of 13 Playoff points so far. But compared to Truex, thatís really nothing. Truex is walking into the Chase with 29 points, and weíre not done yet. That being said, it gives Truex Jr. a tremendous lead heading into the Chase.

This weekend is one of those holy grail of racing type of races. Itís time for the Brickyard 400 at Indy! This race is beyond historic. Itís one of those races that if you win nothing else but this one, then youíve really done something. This track is so rich in history, that itís most certainly in the ranks of Daytona. Honestly, it draws a lot of attention because it holds more than just NASCAR races of esteem here. Most notably, the Indy Car series also races here. The configuration is great for both open wheel and stock cars, so thereís a lot of rich history in many different facets of racing here. Think about this, the track opened in 1909!!!! Thatís 107 years ago. Thatís by far the oldest track out there. Another impressive number is the amount of seating present. There are a total of 235,000 permanent seats with a total altogether of 400,000 seating capacity. Thatís insane. Iíve never been here in person, but from the media coverage, the crowds look pretty epic. The main track here is a rectangular oval track made of both brick and asphalt, where the bricks are at the start/finish line. Itís a total of 2.5 miles with 9.2 degree banking in the turns and no banking on the straights. The length and lack of banking make for an interesting combination. The necessity for brakes is absolutely 100% imperative. The drivers gain some massive speeds from the long stretch and somehow have to slow down for the relatively flat turns. This creates an interesting dynamic in setting up the cars where tires are a premium.

There are so many choices for this weekendís race. Itís another one of those races where we could be surprised because this track has winners from other series. Danica Patrick, for example, has had success at Indy in the open wheel cars. If she can do well anywhere, this is going to be her ticket. With that, Iíll move on to the drivers who actually have a shot. When it comes to winners, Kyle Busch is going to be the man this weekend. Being that he won the last 2 races here and his completely desperate need for a win, Busch is going to pull it off. Heís got the experience here and also the level of aggressiveness it will take to effectively get around this track. Previous to his last 2 wins here, Busch also pulled off second place finishes in 2 of the last 3 races that he ran. He will have steady competition, but Busch will be your driver to beat. Here is a look at your potential winners this weekend at Indy:

My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Kyle Larson
Dark Horse Prediction: Danica Patrick

I had a really hard time with that last one. If youíve ever been on this page before, itís safe to say that you know I am NOT a Danica Patrick fan. I dislike her personality and really do not believe that sheís got the talent to stay in the stock car world. That being said, I mentioned before that sheís had success here in the open wheel series, which is the only reason that I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. She should have this place pretty well figured out by now. Kyle Larson has done very well here in his few Cup starts. With his current hot streak, I reckon that he will continue to build on his success here and compete for a win. Heís got a lot of catching up to do to get to Truex, so this is a great opportunity to seize the moment and a historic win.

Get your wagers down on Virginia's picks or take advantage of some juicy matchup odds at Bovada!

Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Chase Elliott
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Brad Keselowski
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Joey Logano
14. Kurt Busch
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16. Ryan Newman

There are currently 5 drivers inside the top 16 without wins. There is only 1 driver outside of the top 16 with a win. This means that Matt Kenseth is currently the bubble driver. Heís the lowest within the top 16 with no wins. Heís got a lot of work to do, and currently no contract for 2018. That is quite a bit of stress if I do say so myself. No matter what, Indy puts a lot of stress of practically all of the drivers. The sheer amount of history that this place holds is astronomical and really makes a driver proud to win. Stay tuned for an amazing afternoon of racing at Indy for the Brickyard 400 this Sunday!

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