Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Indianapolis NASCAR Cup Series Notes: 2017 Brickyard 400

Kyle Busch is the co-favorite to win third straight Brickyard 400.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 23
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 50),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on lap 160)

Next Race: Lilly Diabetes 250
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, July 22
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 
Next Race: Eldora Dirt Derby
The Place: Eldora Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, July 19
The Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Business, 9 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 75 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Denny Delivers: Hamlin Sends Joe Gibbs Racing To Victory Lane For First Time This Season
Denny Hamlin led 54 laps in his backup car, beating second-place Kyle Larson to the start/finish line by .509 seconds to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its first visit to Victory Lane this season in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The win was the 30th of Hamlin’s career and his third at New Hampshire. He had not won a race in 28 starts since taking the checkered flag in last year’s season finale at Richmond International Raceway. The No. 11 Toyota driver becomes the 25th driver to win 30 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Of note: All non-active drivers with more than 30 Monster Energy Series wins who have been eligible for enshrinement are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

JGR’s struggle to get a win was perplexing considering the organization racked up a series-best 12 victories in 2016, and Martin Truex Jr. from JGR technical partner Furniture Row Racing has tallied three checkered flags and 14 stage wins this season.

Hamlin will attempt to continue the momentum for JGR in Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In 11 starts at Indy, Hamlin has four top fives, six top 10s and a 13.4 average finish. He placed fourth at The Brickyard last year and claims three consecutive top-five finishes there.

Triple Threat: Kyle Busch Tries For Third Straight Brickyard Win
Kyle Busch will try to capture the second straight win for Joe Gibbs Racing when he goes for his third consecutive victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

In addition to winning the last two races at the Brickyard, Busch has placed in the top-two there in four of the last five races. In 12 career Indy starts, Busch has two wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s and a 9.0 average finish (second-best).

Among active drivers at Indianapolis, Busch has the second-best average running position (10.8) and driver rating (105.5).

Busch has won at least one race every season since he began running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2005.

Hometown Hoosier: South Bend’s Ryan Newman Hopes For Another Indy Win
South Bend, Indiana’s own Ryan Newman returns to his home track for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400. In 16 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newman has one win, two top fives and three top 10s.

The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing driver virtually secured a spot in the Monster Energy Series playoffs by winning at Phoenix earlier this season.

Larson Dazzles With Ability To Mow Through The Field
Starting from the back the last two races hasn’t been a problem for Kyle Larson. At Kentucky, he began the race 40th and finished runner-up. A week later, Larson placed runner-up again after starting 39th. In the two races, he completed a combined 177 green flag passes (90, Kentucky; 87, New Hampshire).

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver is enjoying a breakout fourth full-time season. Through 20 races, he boasts two wins, seven runner-ups, nine top fives and 12 top 10s. Larson sits second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 38 markers behind leader Martin Truex Jr. He also ranks second in average running position (8.8), driver rating (106.2).

Larson has finished in the top 10 in all three of his starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including a career track-best fifth-place showing last season.

Johnson Hopes To Pick Up Another Indy Win
Not many drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are better than Jimmie Johnson, period. Not many drivers are better than Johnson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, either.

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pilot leads active competitors at the 2.5-mile track with four wins. He also has six top fives, seven top 10s and a 14.6 average finish in 15 career starts at The Brickyard.

Johnson’s performance has trailed off lately with only two top-10 finishes (both 10th) since winning at Dover six races ago, but he still is tied for the series lead with three wins and ranks second with 16 playoff points.

He is one win away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time list with 84 victories.

7 Races Left Until Playoffs
Seven races remain for drivers to earn berths in NASCAR’s playoffs.

The following drivers would get in if the season ended today: Martin Truex Jr. (three wins, 28 playoff points), Jimmie Johnson (three, 16), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Denny Hamlin (one, seven), Kurt Busch (one, five), Ryan Newman (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Kyle Busch (178 points above Joey Logano on the cutoff line, five playoff points), Chase Elliott (+115, two), Jamie McMurray (+100), Clint Bowyer (+54), Matt Kenseth (+42, two).

The first four out would be: Logano (42 below Matt Kenseth on the cutoff line), Erik Jones (-97), Daniel Suarez (-120) and Trevor Bayne (-155).

Remember, a win gets a driver into the playoffs. Below is a list of winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at upcoming tracks:

Indianapolis: Ky. Busch, McMurray, Paul Menard
Pocono: Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Chris Buescher
Watkins Glen: Ky. Busch, AJ Allmendinger
Michigan: Ky. Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Kahne
Bristol: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne
Darlington: Ky. Busch, Kenseth
Richmond: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Indy Set For NASCAR Fan Fest: The annual IMS Hauler Parade returns, featuring a special "NASCAR Fan Fest" that will bring the stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to Speedway’s Main Street for an afternoon of fun and engaging events this Friday. Nine drivers will participate in interactive fan activities including, but not limited to, the Hauler Parade, pit-stop contests and a relay challenge with young fans.

Jeff Gordon To Drive Pace Car For Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400: Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will serve as the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon is third on the all-time Monster Energy Series wins list with 93 victories.

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