Johnson, Keselowski co-favorites to win 2014 Brickyard 400
The LVH SuperBook has installed Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski as 5-to-1 co-favorites to win Sunday's Brickyard 400 on the storied grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This will be the 20th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season and the 21st visit by NASCAR to the mecca of the auto racing world.
Fifteen of the first 20 Brickyard 400s have been won by Chevrolet, including the last 11 events. Johnson has won four of the past eight Indy races, which ties him for most Brickyard wins all-time with teammate Jeff Gordon, who won the inaugural race in 1994.
A unique facet along NASCAR's short history on the bricks is that the flat 2.5-mile layout has been gateway to championships and has also very kind to past NASCAR champions. Eight of the 20 Brickyard winners have gone on to win the championship that same season, and 15 of the 20 winners have been NASCAR champions at some point in their careers.
One effective handicapping method for Indy prior to Friday’s and Saturday's practices is to refer to what happened at Pocono Raceway in June. Both tracks have long straightaways that require lots of horsepower, and the flat turn three at Pocono requires a similar set up. There has been a solid correlation over the years between teams running well at the first Pocono race and a similar performance on the bricks.
So let's look back at Pocono last month....
Immediately grabbing our attention is that while eight of the top-10 finishers drove a Chevrolet, it was Keselowski in his Ford who led the most laps (95 of the 160). Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Pocono for his first time ever, Johnson finished sixth and Gordon was eighth. Star Chevy performers in the top-10 included Kurt Busch (3rd), Kyle Larson (5th), last year’s Brickyard 400 winner and Indiana native Ryan Newman (7th), Martin Truex Jr (9th), and 2010 Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray (10th).
The only Toyota with a top-10 Pocono finish was four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin (4th). A Toyota has never won at Indy, and the last Ford to win there was Dale Jarrett in 1999, the second of his two career wins there. Roush-Fenway Racing is still searching for its first Indy win, and with the way the team has been running on the horsepower tracks -- sluggishly -- it doesn't look promising this week, which is why Carl Edwards is 50-to-1 and Greg Biffle is 60-to-1.
Sunday's winner is likely to come from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing or Chip Ganassi Racing, which would mark the 12th straight win on the track for Chevy. It would also break the current four-race win streak by Ford. Realistically, unless something goofy happens with fuel mileage and odd pit sequences, the only drivers outside a Chevy stable with a legitimate shot at winning are the Penske Racing duo of Keselowski and Logano.
While the race will likely come down to a few of the favorites like Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Keselowski, the best value on the board might be Kurt Busch at 30-to-1. Let’s see how he fits the criteria of a Brickyard winner:
-- Has he won a championship like 15 of the previous 20 winners? Yes, in 2004.
-- Does he drive a Chevy like 15 of the previous winners? Yes, he's in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Chevy with a Hendrick engine.
-- How'd he do at Pocono? He finished third.
-- What about his past Brickyard experience? His best finish was fifth during his rookie season in 2001 and he's yet to finish in the top-five again. The most indelible image of him from Indy might be getting out of a wrecked car and signaling to a passing Jimmy Spencer to kiss his rear-end after being punted. Ironically, Spencer was driving the No. 41 at the time. However, Busch did finish an impressive sixth in his first Indy 500 start in May.
At 30-to-1, it’s definitely worth taking a shot with Busch this week
Friday, July 31 6:00 AM - 7:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 10:00 AM NSCS ROOKIE & SPOTTER MEETINGS & RANDOM DRAWING 11:00 AM - 12:25 PM NSCS PRACTICE 12:30 PM NSCS QUALIFYING INSPECTION BEGINS 4:45 PM NSCS QUALIFYING
Saturday, August 1 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 9:00 - 9:50 AM NSCS PRACTICE 11:35 AM - 12:25 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Sunday, August 2 7:30 AM NSCS GARAGE OPENS 11:30 AM NSCS DRIVER / CREW CHIEF MEETING 1:00 PM NSCS DRIVERS INTRODUCTION 1:30 PM NSCS RACE
All times above are listed in LOCAL Time
Pocono Driver Tale of the Tape
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.421, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 10.246, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.9, third-best · 332 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.733, second-fastest · 2659 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0), second-most · 774 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 MICROSOFT Chevrolet) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.900, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 14.002, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, ninth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237, eighth-fastest · 2286 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), eighth-most · 727 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.500, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 14.826, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 94.2, eighth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.224, ninth-fastest · 2262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6), 10th-most · 712 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 31 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.650, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.916, series-best · Driver Rating of 103.5, fourth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.625, fifth-fastest · 2777 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9), third-most · 885 Quality Passes, series-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.889, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 10.844, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 108.3, series-best · 437 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.806, series-fastest · 2543 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3), series-most · 685 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10.600, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.743, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, 11th-best · 63 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.159, 10th-fastest · 2277 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0), ninth-most · 789 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 10.500, third-best · Average Running Position of 10.487, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 273 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.708, third-fastest · 2774 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8), fourth-most · 861 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Aquafina Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.750, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.622, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, 10th-best · 306 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.436, sixth-fastest · 2199 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9), 11th-most · 804 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 13.400, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.786, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 12th-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.894, 13th-fastest · 852 Laps in the Top 15 (50.1), 13th-most · 306 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Kyle Larson (No. 42 Suave Men Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.000, series-best · Average Running Position of 12.672, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.7, sixth-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.690, fourth-fastest · 230 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9), seventh-most · 87 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 16.583, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 13.811, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 88.9, 13th-best · 61 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.097, 12th-fastest · 1190 Laps in the Top 15 (56.6), 12th-most · 456 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.500, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 11.426, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.3, seventh-best · 36 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.135, 11th-fastest · 2689 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4), fifth-most · 883 Quality Passes, second-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.600, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.223, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.319, seventh-fastest · 2619 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5), sixth-most · 880 Quality Passes, third-most