Big Machine Vodka 400 Odds & Picks
Race: Big Machine Vodka 400 At The Brickyard
Date: Sunday, September 8, 2019
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?
Well, Coach Gibbs, you’re a force to be reckoned with in the NASCAR world. You have managed to do something that many other teams are falling short on, and that’s getting all of your drivers in the Chase. With Hamlin, Busch, and Truex already securing their positions in the Chase with wins this season, Erik Jones was the odd one out, but not after Darlington. As predicted, the dark horse contender came through with a win at a very rain delayed race at Darlington. Jones managed to stay just far enough ahead of Busch to take the win in the closing 50 laps of the race. Popular driver and teammate Denny Hamlin had been in contention before a wreck in the final stage sent him back to a 29th place finish. The funny thing is you wouldn’t have known it. Hamlin is just as content, knowing he’s got a solid spot in the Chase already and his confidence going into the playoffs is evident. Kyle Larson ended the night in 2nd followed by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski to round out the top 5 spots. Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard, and Austin Dillon finished out the top ten.
I don’t know who was more excited. Chris Gayle, Jones’ crew chief, was over the moon. He knew that their time was coming, but it’s definitely been a steep road to travel watching all of the teammates be celebrated while they were all waiting on Erik to perform. Jones himself shared the same sentiment and admitted the weekly celebrations were sometimes hard to bear. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, Jones knew his time was coming. It’s incredible how a win can change the demeanor of a driver. It’s like everything that they worked so hard for is finally validated. Jones had a change in his confidence if you listen carefully. He spoke of the last several weeks where he knew that they were always in contention despite coming up short. Regardless, Jones is definitely coming into his own. I think that Gibbs and the entire team have done an excellent job of grooming him into an accomplished driver and he will only go up from here.
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Where Are We Headed This Weekend?
This weekend, the drivers are heading to Indy for the last chance to get into the playoffs. This should be interesting. Indy is a track with some serious history and requires some serious skill. It has a tendency to be difficult for the rookie drivers and has some nuances about it that make it hard to get a car setup just right. The Brickyard is a rectangular oval track. Yep. That’s right. It’s a rectangle and an oval. Don’t ask me. It’s comprised of both brick and asphalt as well. The normalcy lies in its 2.5-mile distance. That’s about it. It’s actually pretty flat. It has 9.2 degrees of banking in the turns and no banking on the straights. As you can imagine, this track lends itself to a lot of F1 racing. Indy was built back in 1909. Yes, you read that correctly. It has the highest seating capacity of any sports venue in the world at over 257,000 seats. The beauty is that this track hasn’t been torn up or reconstructed like many of the other tracks on the surface. Of course, it’s had its facelifts and whatnot, but it has remained true to its character through most of its life. That means that this track EATS tires. That is by far the biggest contention that these drivers will have fighting against them. This is a tough track to drive, and the tire situation makes it even trickier. Between track temps and lap traffic, the drivers will have to definitely have a plan in place to take care of their tires.
Potential Winners & Odds
That said, if we take a look at the potential winners, how do we not steer towards the Gibbs garage first? With their four drivers locked down for the Chase, there’s definitely some strength in those teams. Kyle Busch will be the class of the field for the JGR garage, though. He has a total of 2 wins and eleven top 10 finishes. Like that isn’t impressive in and of itself, those stats account for 13 of his 14 career starts at Indy. That’s not too shabby. I do think that Busch and his teammates will get a run for their money from the Penske teams, though. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are going to bring it on hard for the win this weekend. Speed is an important factor around this track. It’s a big track at 2.5 miles, and it requires the horsepower and engine building techniques frequently seen in the Penske garage. Brad is going to be my top performer this week. He isn’t the favorite right now, but 10-1 odds aren’t too shabby, and they’d give you a nice little payout with a victory. With a win here last year and a good run of solid finishes recently, I will look for him to be in victory lane this weekend. There will be many other drivers vying for the win, but I think that we will see the biggest competition out of the Penske and JGR garages this weekend. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Sunday’s race:
Winner: Brad Keselowski (10-1)
Middle of the Road: Kyle Larson (12-1)
Dark Horse: Erik Jones (8-1)
Jones is my dark horse again this weekend, despite having the best odds at 8-1 in my group of picks. He finished this race last year in second place and is coming off a great victory from Darlington. With that momentum, he will likely have a very strong run at Indy. Kyle Larson at 12-1 odds is another driver that is running consistently strong. He’s coming off a runner-up finish from Darlington and has three top five finishes in just five total starts. Look for Larson to be up front for much of the race. The drivers are going to be chasing Keselowski, but we will also likely see some very aggressive driving from the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer who are fighting hard for their spots in the Chase. Let’s see where they stand after Darlington:
- Kyle Busch (3-1)
- Joey Logano (10-1)
- Denny Hamlin (6-1)
- Kevin Harvick (6-1)
- Martin Truex Jr. (8-1)
- Brad Keselowski (10-1)
- Kurt Busch (20-1)
- Chase Elliott (20-1)
- Kyle Larson (12-1)
- Ryan Blaney (20-1)
- Alex Bowman (60-1)
- Erik Jones (8-1)
- William Byron (40-1)
- Aric Almirola (60-1)
- Clint Bowyer (40-1)
- Daniel Suarez (40-1)
This race is going to be a nail biter for sure. Honestly, I think this is going to be the best race of the season. There are a lot of drivers who have nothing to lose and everything to gain. A win is all they need to advance into the playoffs, so you can bet there will be some risky moves and risky strategies throughout the duration of the race. The drivers will also be battling against a doozy of a pit road. If they can get through pit stops unharmed, that will be impressive. Stay tuned to see how the field plays out and who makes it to the playoffs this weekend as the drivers try to survive The Brickyard!