Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 Brickyard 400 Practice Notes: Can anyone stop Chevy?

Kevin Harvick is hitting 4-for-9 when starting on pole
The big story coming into the Brickyard 400 was that Chevrolet had won 15 of the 20 previous Sprint Cup events on the storied grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the past 11 in a row. Following Friday and Saturday's two practice sessions, Toyota gave somewhat of an indication that Chevy will at least have a little more competition than expected this time around.

Earlier in the week, we chronicled the Chevy Brickyard prowess and also suggested that Pocono is a good measuring tool by which to handicap Sunday's race. Chevy is still the manufacturer to beat by a large margin, but in Friday's lone practice session, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota driven by Matt Kenseth had the fastest lap and also had the best 10-consecutive laps average (though only three drivers ran that many in a row).

But Kenseth wasn't in the early talk as a contender to win. He's been consistent all season with seven top-five finishes, but he hasn't had enough to capture a victory, which is a shocker because he led the series with seven wins last season. He's had near-wins at the Brickyard over his career, including two second-place finishes while with Roush-Fenway Racing, but even though Chevy has won the past 11 events, the deck has never been stacked against as much as it is this season. The bow-ties come fast from all corners of the garages.

The top candidate to stop the Chevy streak this week is Brad Keselowski, and he showed all his horsepower under the hood in both practices with the third fastest lap on Friday and the second fastest lap in Saturday's rain shortened final session.

If we use Pocono as a barometer -- which we should because of the similar long straightaways and tight turns -- Keselowski's second-place finish there and leading a race-high 95 laps is a good indicator that he'll have his best career finish (9th twice) on the Bricks and possibly capture his fourth win of the season. It would also be the fifth straight win on the season for Ford.

And that's about it folks. Two strong candidates to win outside of a Chevy, and the only two of three (Kyle Busch is the other) that ranked in our top-10 ratings after throwing in all the practice, qualifying and past data that come with the ratings.

Read More Here.........Final Driver Ratings

No comments: