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
Thursday, June 30 9:00 AM NSCS HAULERS ENTER 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 12:30 PM NSCS, NXS SPOTTERS MEETING 2:00 PM NSCS ROOKIE MEETING & RANDOM DRAWING 3:00 - 3:55 PM NSCS 1ST PRACTICE 5:00 - 5:55 PM NSCS FINAL PRACTICE
Friday, July 1 10:30 AM - 7:30 PM NSCS GARAGE OPEN 4:10 PM NSCS QUALIFYING IMPOUND
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 RK Motors Charlotte Toyota) · Three top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 17.3, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 83.5, ninth-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.524 mph, fourth-fastest
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 10 top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 16.1, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 88.9, sixth-best · 70 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 3,692 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,072 Laps in the Top 15 (60.3%), fifth-most · 2,585 Quality Passes, third-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.6 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 97.1 · 84 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 3,851 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.532 mph, second-fastest · Series-high 2,413 Laps in the Top 15 (70.2%) · Series-high 2,743 Quality Passes
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.0, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.0, third-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 4,036 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.528 mph, third-fastest · 2,245 Laps in the Top 15 (65.3%), second-most · 2,710 Quality Passes, second-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford) · Four top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.1 · Average Running Position of 17.6, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.1, 12th-best · 72 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 4,026 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,815 Laps in the Top 15 (52.8%), eighth-most · 2,549 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Pepsi Real Sugar Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.3 · Average Running Position of 14.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, seventh-best · 3,664 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · 2,030 Laps in the Top 15 (59.1%), sixth-most · 2,333 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Three top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 20.4 · Average Running Position of 16.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 85.5, eighth-best · 79 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.471 mph, eighth-fastest
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Folds Of Honor Chevrolet) · Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.8 · Driver Rating of 82.4, 11th-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 3,578 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.509 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,990 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Average Running Position of 13.9, third-best · Driver Rating of 89.0, fifth-best · 2,194 Laps in the Top 15 (63.8%), fourth-most · 2,372 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.1 · Average Running Position of 13.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 92.9, second-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 3,566 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 2,228 Laps in the Top 15 (64.8%), third-most · 2,453 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.1 · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 90.0, fourth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,898 Laps in the Top 15 (55.2%), seventh-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