Samuel Deeds 400 Picks

Race: Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by
Date: Sunday July 28, 2013
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

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I know the drivers need them, but I personally hate “off” weeks for the Sprint Cup. I feel all out of the loop and totally miss my race days. Thank goodness we are returning with a BANG! This weekend, we are headed to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Few tracks, if any, have more history in terms of all out racing and different series. NASCAR is lucky to be one of the great organizations to race this track, and it always turns out to be a truly awesome experience for the fans and for the drivers.

This track was opened in 1909. Talk about history. Martinsville, one of the longest running histories in NASCAR, began its races in the ’50s, with most Cup runnings taking place in the ’60s and beyond. Indy is a true 2.5 mile oval with 9 degree banking in the turns and no banking on the straights. This makes it a pretty flat track. Guys do have to use their brakes going into the turns because they can’t get rounded off the corners like on some other tracks that have deeper banking into the turns. The frontstretch and the backstretch both come in at a whopping 3300 feet. That’s HUGE! These guys are going to be able to get some speed up on the straights, but look for most passing to take place into and out of those corners where braking is key.

When it comes to how different factors affect the drivers and the cars, the two major issues at this track are track position and tires. Tires, for whatever reason, seem to wear faster here, leaving guys with unexpected blowouts. There’s also the issue of a lot of green flag racing, so more miles are put on the tires without constant changing or the option to change like we see elsewhere. Because of that tire wear and also because of the long green flag runs, track position plays an important role in how these guys shape up at the end. We often see the leader of the race pull out quite a bit of distance on the rest of the field because of the sheer size and speed that we can get here.

With all of the history here, you’d think it’d be easy to pick a winner. That’s not necessarily the case. We have past winners of Jimmie Johnson (of course!), Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart to name a few. That being said, there’s quite a bit of opportunity for some of the lesser known drivers to do well here. Take a look at Paul Menard. He’s not the best, but he knows how to drive this track and his family has had great success here over the years. There’s a lot to be said for simply knowing this particular track and how to race it. When it comes to our winner this weekend, though, I’m going with an old favorite. Although I think we will see success and great runs from our typical guys like Johnson and Gordon, I think that Tony Stewart is going to be on point. He loves Indy. This is a track where he has had great success in several different series. He needs the good run and this is exactly the place for him to do it. I have a notion that his guys will spend a lot of time prepping just for this race and making sure that his car is the one to beat simply because Tony does so well here in general. Here are your potential winners for this weekend:

My Pick to Win: Tony Stewart
Middle of the Road Pick: Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Prediction: Danica Patrick

I will be the first one to say that I am not a Danica fan. I understand the appeal, but I do not think that she’s justified her stint in NASCAR just yet. This is the place for her to show that she can race. Indy is a track that she has tons of experience on and one that we would expect her to actually do quite well at. I think that this is a true test of her abilities as an actual racer and not just a commodity to the sport. Jamie McMurray is a driver that you really can’t count out. He’s got a win here and really seems to play around up front pretty inconspicuously without being noticed. Look for him to be sneaking around the front of the pack throughout much of the day.

Let’s take a look at your current top 12 in the points:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Carl Edwards
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Kyle Busch
8. Greg Biffle
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Kasey Kahne
11. Martin Truex Jr.
12. Jeff Gordon

Your points standings stayed pretty much the same after the last race with the exception of 9th, 10th, and 12th positions. Brad Keselowski moved up 4 spots into the top 10 to take 9th position. Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne both improved 2 positions as well. Jeff is sitting in a wild card spot, though, and desperately needs a win to earn his spot in the Chase. The unfortunate one after the last race was actually Tony Stewart, who dropped 3 positions out of the top 12 drivers. This weekend is going to be a great way for him to make up ground. Indy is going to prove to be a turning point for a lot of drivers in my opinion. Stay tuned for a weekend of great racing and great history making!