After taking their final break of the season last weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the Brickyard 400 to begin the 17 race stretch run to finish off the season. The Nationwide Series will also be joining their Sprint Cup brethren at Indianapolis, while the Camping World Truck Series heads to Eldora on Wednesday night for the first NASCAR sanctioned dirt track race in several years.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com
Twenty years ago, the Sprint Cup Series had their first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in the 19 races since the inaugural race in 1994, the Brickyard 400 has become one of the crown jewels of the sport. The list of drivers that have won this race is a who’s who of Sprint Cup champions and current and future Hall of Famers. Only four times has a driver won the race and not gone on to win the title. Look for whoever comes out on top on Sunday to be a strong championship contender.
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Who To Watch: With the race at Indianapolis, it’s no surprise that an Indiana native tops the list with the best statistics. Tony Stewart, who hails from Columbus, IN, has amassed some impressive numbers at the track with two wins, six top fives, 10 top tens, one pole, 227 laps led, and an average finish of 8.2 in 14 races.
Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon falls in just behind Stewart with four wins, 11 top fives, 15 top tens, three poles, 477 laps led, and an average finish of 8.8 in 19 starts.
Others to keep an eye on include: Kevin Harvick, 2003 Brickyard 400 winner, who also has four top fives, seven top tens, one pole, 92 laps led, and an average finish of 10.2 in 12 starts; Kyle Busch, with two top fives, six top tens, 42 laps led, and an average finish of 11.8 in eight starts; and Greg Biffle, with three top fives, six top tens, 53 laps led, and an average finish of 12.1 in 10 starts.
Defending race winner, Jimmie Johnson, didn’t make the top ten statistically at Indianapolis, but has four wins at the track, along with four top fives, five top tens, one pole and has led 229 laps in 11 starts.
One last thing to keep in mind for Sunday’s 20th running of the Brickyard 400 is the dominance that Chevrolet has had at the track. Chevrolet has won the last 10 and 14 of the 19 races at Indianapolis. Can Chevrolet win yet another Brickyard 400 or will one of the other two manufacturers finally find their way to Victory Lane?
NASCAR Nationwide Series – Indiana 250
After running at the short track across town in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway Park for years, the Nationwide Series made the move to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a companion weekend with the Sprint Cup Series starting last year and will have their second running at the 2.5 mile speedway this weekend.
Last year, Penske Racing swept the top two spots with Brad Keselowski taking the win and teammate Sam Hornish, Jr. finishing in second. Hornish regained the points lead after a second place finish in last weekend’s race at Chicago and the Indy 500 champion brings his momentum into a track that he is very familiar with.
Indianapolis also marks the last leg of the Nationwide Insurance “Dash 4 Cash” with Austin Dillon, Hornish, Elliott Sadler, and Brian Vickers eligible for the $100,000 bonus. Dillon will be going for his third “Dash 4 Cash” bonus after winning the bonus last weekend at Chicago and at New Hampshire.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – 1-800-CARCASH Mudsummer Classic Presented By CNBC Prime’s “The Profit” at Eldora
For the first time since 1970 at Raleigh, NC, NASCAR returns to dirt racing with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making their inaugural trip to Eldora Speedway in Ohio for a Wednesday night feature on the half-mile dirt track. The race, which is a sellout, will not only feature points eligible Truck Series drivers, but will also have several dirt racing specialists going for the win. Those specialists include: Dave Blaney, Tracy Hines, Scott Bloomquist, Ken Schrader, Ryan Newman, Kenny Wallace, and former Truck Series champion, Austin Dillon, who will be facing off with his brother and championship contender, Ty Dillon.
Matt Crafton leads the Truck Series standings by 39 points heading into Eldora, but the points could face a big shakeup after what is sure to be a wild race on Wednesday night in Ohio.