John Wayne Walding 400 Predictions to Win – Presented by Crown Royal

Race: Crown Royal Presents, the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard
Date: Sunday July 27, 2014
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

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Ah, the coveted Brickyard! We are back at it again this weekend, folks, as the drivers head to Indianapolis. Brad Keselowski had a week to rest, but he is returning to see if he can carry his momentum on a track that is known to be unforgiving to drivers. This place has it all. It is a track with multiple series participation and a place that any true race fan can appreciate, regardless of what series drivers are in.

This is by far one of the most difficult tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit, and honestly, one of the most difficult among all circuits. With the amount of history that this track just seeps out when you look at it, it’s no wonder why fans and drivers alike anticipate this weekend like it’s Christmas. We still have Daytona, but the Brickyard is a track that rivals the 500 in history and sportsmanship. I mean, the track opened in 1909. That says a lot about the amount of history that exists here.

This track has a frontstretch and backstretch of 3300 feet! This place is huge. It is a true 2.5 mile oval with minimal 9 degree banking in the turns. That is an important factor. This track is fast but it’s also brake-heavy. With those huge straights and flat corners, drivers have to use brakes coming into the turns at very high rates of speed. It’s definitely going to be important for drivers to take care of their equipment on Sunday. Because of the heavy braking and huge speed on the straights, tires are going to see some wear. They are going to be a big factor. Track position is key, but it always seems to boil down to tires one way or another. Speaking of track position, Jimmie Johnson better brush up pit strategy since that’s what cost him the win last year. Pit stops are a premium here. It’s important to get in and get out without incident on a pit road that’s much different than most other NASCAR tracks.

That being said, I think that we are still going to see Johnson pulling for the win this weekend. He flat-out dominated last year, only losing to Ryan Newman due to a faulty pit stop. Crew members, be warned! You are on notice that 17 second pit stops are unacceptable! Johnson is simply a force to be reckoned with no matter where he goes, but this is a track he has figured out. Many might think that Brad Keselowski is going to carry his momentum and sweep this weekend up as well, but I am not too sure that he has what it takes to get this win yet. Although he’s undoubtedly in championship form, the Brickyard is a tricky track to tame and one that doesn’t come easily to even the best drivers. Look for him to be in the front pack, but I would still bet on him having some struggles keeping him from victory lane. With that, let’s take a look at your potential winners this weekend:

My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Tony Stewart
Dark Horse Prediction: Ryan Newman

Stewart is going to be one to watch. Although he hasn’t been the most consistent, this is his home track and a place that means a whole lot to him. With the ups and downs that he’s experienced over the last year, look for this place to give him a whole lot of motivation to push as hard as he can. Ryan Newman is the defending champ and somehow seems to have very strong runs at this very difficult track. There’s something about this place that he has figured out that many have not. I’d imagine he’s going to carry on with at least a top 10 finish this weekend if not better.

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

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Carl Edwards
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kyle Busch
9. Joey Logano
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Paul Menard
12. Denny Hamlin
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Kyle Larson
15. Austin Dillon
16. Greg Biffle

As you can see, even though no one mentions Newman, he’s been within the top 10 in points and moving up consistently for quite a few races now. I’d imagine that this weekend will only help him. This may also be his best chance at getting a win, so look for him to be very competitive as he tries to earn his way into the Chase. This weekend will surely be one for the books! Welcome back, NASCAR fans! Stay tuned for one of the best races of the year this Sunday at the Brickyard!

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