The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for the Brickyard 400. All on track activity was canceled Saturday and the field will be set by owner’s points. The race will either be at 1 pm ET Sunday or Monday after the Xfinity Series race.
Kyle Busch (3): Busch has to be the favorite to win this week. He won the Brickyard 400 in 2015 and 2016. Last year Busch won the pole, won Stage 1 and Stage 2, led the most laps and dominated the race until Martin Truex Jr. got into him while battling for the lead. Busch starts on the pole and has the No. 1 pit stall. The No. 18 is my pick to win whenever they race.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Kevin Harvick 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Joey Logano 5) Kyle Larson 6) Brad Keselowski 7) Denny Hamlin 8) Jimmy Johnson
Erik Jones (5): Joe Gibbs Racing really performs well at the Brickyard. Jones has been the 2nd-best driver on the team this summer. He enters the race this week after a pair of top-5 finishes and an 8th-place finish last week. Jones ran upfront and led 10 laps in this race last year but was caught up in an accident. The No. 20 team really knows how to setup a car for the Brickyard. Jones starts 13th and I expect him to quickly make his way into the top 10.
Ryan Newman (7): The Indiana Hoosier native needs a win Sunday in order to make the playoffs. Newman has done it before at this track and I would not put it past him to steal a win again Sunday. Pocono is the most similar track to Indianapolis. Newman qualified 9th and finished 8th at the Tricky Triangle last month. He also finished 3rd at the Brickyard last year. Newman starts 17th but there will be an early competition caution to start the race. I expect the No. 31 team to stay out and gain a lot of track position on the restart. This team will do everything possible to win this week.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Kurt Busch 2) Chase Elliott 3) Erik Jones 4) Ryan Blaney 5) 6) Ryan Newman 7) Daniel Suarez 8) Clint Bowyer 9) Aric Almirola 10) Austin Dillon
Chris Buescher (5): Buescher has been running as well as the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers (Alex Bowman and William Byron) in Group C over the last month. Buescher has a 17th-place average finishing position in the last 4 races. He ran well in both races at Pocono this season and that should translate into success Sunday. Buescher has competed in 2 MENCS races at the Brickyard. He finished 9th and 14th. I will gladly take a top-15 finish from Buescher in the Brickyard 400.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Alex Bowman) William Byron 3) Chris Buescher 4) David Ragan 5) Regan Smith
Good luck this week!
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