NASCAR heads to one of the most famed speedways in the world Sunday making the annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2.5 mile superspeedway is unlike any other with flat corners and high speed. Several teams participated in a Goodyear tire test here last week, including this week’s favorite Jimmie Johnson.
“The test last week was good overall,” Johnson said. “We aren’t exactly where we need to be but got some good information. We opened up both days really strong but this track changes so much when it gets hot. We learned more on the second day. The late start of the race will bring some of the grip we need in the car back. Indy is really hard to get all four corners right. To win it means so much though. It’s a special race.”
Here are my favorites for Sunday’s twentieth race of the year for your betting or fantasy racing leagues. Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2016 races (11 total) among active drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Driver Rating is a number based on a formula developed by NASCAR which combines “loop data” elements such as average running position, average speed under green, number of fastest laps, and other stats. There is a maximum of 150 points that a driver can earn for each race. The odds are current as of Wednesday.
Jimmie Johnson (8-1) not only has the knowledge gained from last week’s test, but he leads all active drivers with four wins at Indy and has the highest driver rating in the field 106.5. Johnson and his team have suffered some gremlins in the last few weeks, but if they can exorcise them, he should be hard to beat.
Kyle Busch (6-1) was last year’s Brickyard winner. He has the third highest driver rating, 101.5 along with four top fives, and nine top 10 finishes. When he’s strong, Busch can be the class of the field, if he is strong Sunday he could score back to back wins at Indy.
Tony Stewart (25-1) has one last shot as a full time Cup driver to win at the track he considers his home track. Stewart has two wins here and the fourth best driver rating in the field. 101.2. With all the motivation in the world to win at Indy, Stewart could be the one to watch Sunday.
Kevin Harvick (6-1) won here in 2003. He also has five top fives, nine top 10s and two poles ,he also led a race high 75 laps last year only to lose thanks to missed fuel strategy . Harvick has been a little quiet in the past few weeks, but has the ability to be competitive each and every week. Harvick could make some noise Sunday.
Kyle Larson (18-1) is a longshot but has started two races at Indy but finished in the top 10 in both. Because of that Larson has the second best driver rating in the field. 103.6. He’s a risky best, but Larson could be a surprise winner Sunday.
OTHERS: Matt Kenseth (10-1), has never won at Indy, but did score an impressive win at New Hampshire last Sunday. He has the sixth best driver rating in the field, 97.0 and the momentum of that win. Jeff Gordon (?) may be stepping in for the ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon retired at the end of last season, but led all active drivers at the time with five wins at Indy. His driver rating is 99.4 which would put him fifth in the field should he compete.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be run on Sunday July 24. Live coverage will be on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00 p.m. ET with the green flag coming at about 3:15 p.m. ET.