Curtiss Shaver 400 Picks

Race:Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard
Date:Sunday July 29, 2012
Track:Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time:12 pm ET

By Virginia Vroom, Auto Racing Handicapper,

This weekend brings a welcome excitement for race fans after a break for the Sprint Cup drivers.The Curtiss Shaver 400 at Indianapolis is one of the biggest of the year.With an over 250,000 seating capacity, it’s easy to see just how popular this race is.Indy cars run here as well (Indianapolis 500), but the Brickyard is typically a big event unto itself.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a huge track.At 2.5 miles, it constitutes one of the biggest tracks on the circuit.This true oval has 9 degree banking in the turns with no banking in the straights.Both the frontstretch and backstretch are 3300 feet.There is plenty of space for passing and plenty of space to get up tons of speed here.In fact, Carl Edwards almost took the win here when he came off turn 4, using the wall as a way to contain his car when he had so much speed coming into and out of the corner.Unfortunately, he lost momentum in doing so, but it was worth a shot!

Historically, this track has seen its fair share of winners from Jamie McMurray to Paul Menard to Jimmie Johnson.This weekend, I am banking on Tony Stewart, who happens to be a 2-time Brickyard winner.This is the type of track that he excels at and an opportunity for him to get a win that he deserves.He’s been doing well, but has bobbled here and there in recent weeks.Indianapolis is going to be a place for him to get that momentum back and to jump into victory lane, getting those much sought after wins that the drivers are going for now as we head closer and closer to the Chase.Here are my picks for this week heading into the Brickyard on Sunday:

Winner:Tony Stewart
Middle of the Road Pick:Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Pick:Sam Hornish Jr.

Being that this is a dual-purpose track in terms of running NASCAR and Indy cars, I’m thinking that this may give Sam Hornish Jr. a little bit of a personal advantage when compared to other tracks that he’s run on.This is an opportunity for him to come out and prove that he has what it takes to be in NASCAR.Jamie McMurray is another strong choice.His affinity for super speedways in conjunction with his win here makes this race a good shot for him to wind up in victory lane.While Stewart has the best opportunity in my opinion to clearly take the win, he will have to keep his eyes peeled for both Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.Gordon desperately needs a win.With the season now at halfway and his destitute position in the points standings, Jeff needs to start racking up the wins and the points to have any shot at the Chase this year.Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, is all but guaranteed a spot in the Chase.Between himself and Gordon, there have been 7 wins at this particular track.Those definitely two guys to watch.

Here’s a look at your current top 10 in points coming into the Brickyard this weekend:

1.Matt Kenseth
2.Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3.Greg Biffle
4.Jimmie Johnson
5.Denny Hamlin
6.Kevin Harvick
7.Tony Stewart
8.Martin Truex Jr.
9.Clint Bowyer
10.Brad Keselwoski

Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch are 12 and 13 in the points, with Carl Edwards sitting in P11.Busch and Kahne have wins.Carl does not.They are the wildcard seeds for the Chase.Now it’s crunch time for these guys.I think that you are going to see a little more risk involved in strategy as these guys fight for the wins and the ultimate amount of points.Stay tuned this weekend to see if we witness some risk-taking at the Brickyard!