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
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion) · Six top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.045, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 15.560, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, eighth-best · 313 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.285, 10th-fastest · 4327 Laps in the Top 15 (54.7), 12th-most · 759 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Ten top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 13.500, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 9.732, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.1, second-best · 499 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.151, second-fastest · 6202 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4), second-most · 1094 Quality Passes, second-most
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS) · One win, seven top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 18.909, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 15.798, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 11th-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.146, 13th-fastest · 4552 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6), 10th-most · 784 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS) · One top 10 · Average finish of 13.000, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.474, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 85.3, 12th-best · 21 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.500, fifth-fastest · 978 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6), fourth-most · 167 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Carl Edwards (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · One win, seven top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 10.545, second-best · Average Running Position of 14.126, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, seventh-best · 147 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.270, 11th-fastest · 5130 Laps in the Top 15 (64.9), sixth-most · 961 Quality Passes, third-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Five top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.762, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 11.920, third-best · Driver Rating of 94.9, fifth-best · 288 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.472, sixth-fastest · 5547 Laps in the Top 15 (73.9), third-most · 873 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS) · Three wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.864, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 15.398, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, 10th-best · 270 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.295, ninth-fastest · 4975 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9), eighth-most · 842 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS) · Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 14.909, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 8.563, series-best · Driver Rating of 109.0, series-best · 699 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.226, series-fastest · 6718 Laps in the Top 15 (85.0), series-most · 1102 Quality Passes, series-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.955, third-best · Average Running Position of 13.267, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.4, third-best · 689 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.647, third-fastest · 4944 Laps in the Top 15 (62.5), ninth-most · 922 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry) · Two wins, ten top fives, 17 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.955, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.906, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.5, fourth-best · 428 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.537, fourth-fastest · 5187 Laps in the Top 15 (65.6), fifth-most · 939 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford Fusion) · One win, two top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.538, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 14.069, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 87.8, ninth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.402, eighth-fastest · 2687 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7), 11th-most · 545 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion) · One win, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 9.571, series-best · Average Running Position of 12.658, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 93.6, sixth-best · 120 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.435, seventh-fastest · 3216 Laps in the Top 15 (64.7), seventh-most · 711 Quality Passes, 10th-most
All this junk posted is simply stuff I use weekly to accumulate a pre-practice driver rating. It's an easy weekly process. How those ratings work won't be shared, but all the data needed for handicapping should be posted somewhere here. Good luck week-to-week in any betting endeavor. Hope the info helps. - MR