Race: Brickyard 400 Presented by BigMachineRecords.com
Date: Sunday July 31, 2011
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Ah, the Brickyard! The epitome of racing history through a multitude of series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway brings a new air to racing this weekend coming off a weekend off. The racing should be nothing short of excellent as we see these come in refreshed, off vacations, volunteer work, and racing in other series. Well, I guess that’s unless you’re Kasey Kahne and violently flip a sprint car that you’re racing. Luckily for him, things turned out okay despite destroying a good car. Regardless, the Brickyard will bring a lot of excitement and renewed energy to some teams that desperately need it.
At 2.5 miles, the Brickyard does not get any more true to an oval than you get. Its equal frontstretch and backstretch both boast 3330 feet with 9 degree banking in all 4 turns and no banking at all on those long stretches. Although what some call a ‘cookie cutter’ track, the Brickyard is anything but. It’s a track where drivers get even, equipment learns it limits, and teams make or break it for the coveted kissing of the bricks.
There are quite a few issues to talk about at Indy. Tires are always an issue. We will have to wait and see what kind of compound Goodyear brings and what kind of green flag runs it can withstand. Furthermore, we have to see how the wear on the tires works on short runs, through debris, and also right versus left side wear. Fuel mileage seems to be quite the issue here as it is with a lot of tracks. Depending on how clean these drivers can keep it, and I don’t intend for it to be a lot, we will have to see who gambles and who doesn’t on fuel.
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There are quite a few guys to watch here. Although, there are some drivers who have seen better days this year, we have to count them in based on their history at this track. Over the last 4 to 5 years, we have seen excellent runs from Montoya, Stewart, and Biffle. These guys definitely haven’t been at the top of the standings, but in terms of Indianapolis, they are names to watch. Montoya has the record of the most fastest laps at this track. Stewart just runs great here, despite how the rest of his season goes. Biffle tends to have something hooked up with Indy and just has quite a good rep here.
Along with those 3 drivers, I think that there are also some other names to watch who have had better luck this season. Carl Edwards, who is coming fresh off a Nationwide win at Nashville certainly will be trying to hold onto his top spot in the Chase. Jeff Gordon is also one to watch. Although he’s had some hiccups, he holds the most wins at Indy for NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Kevin Harvick, or ‘The Sleeper’, as many have now coined him, should have a strong showing as well.
In terms of picking a winner, though, I really think that I am going to go out there and say Jeff Gordon. Not only is he the win record holder here, he has had quite a week off. I watched an interview with him this morning and he just seems so refreshed and ready to fight on the track. I think that Gordon will be the one to beat this weekend. Look for teammate Jimmie Johnson to run strong as well, but I think that Gordon will take the cake. Harvick, Stewart, Montoya, Edwards, and Kyle Busch are going to be fighters also. They should certainly find comfortable spots in the top 5 and top 10.
Here’s a look at your current top 10 in the points:
1. Carl Edwards
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kurt Busch
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kyle Busch
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Ryan Newman
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Denny Hamlin
Now Denny Hamlin is theoretically in 10th ahead of Tony Stewart who also is 82 points behind because Hamlin has a win. I really think that Stewart will overtake Hamlin and roll into the top 10 this weekend. The gap gets larger back to 12th, who is Clint Bowyer 110 points behind Edwards. From that point on, the wild card spot is going to be up for grabs based on those guys with wins. The 11th and 12th spots are becoming more and more competitive as we edge closer to the end of the regular season. We will just have to wait and see what the Brickyard gives to our drivers this weekend.
Virginia’s Prediction to Win: Take Jeff Gordon in all head to head matchups and a small bet on him to win the Brickyard 400!