The NASCAR Sprint Cup is gearing up for the final push towards this year’s Chase with the running of the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard. Here's an expert handicapper's prediction for you.
The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard action from the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway is set to get underway at 10 a.m. (PT) and the race will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Two weeks ago at New Hampshire, Brad Keselowski posted his third Sprint Cup victory of the season as one of the top favorites. Kyle Busch finished second and Kyle Larson stunned the field as a heavy longshot by taking third. My value pick for that race was Matt Kenseth at 10/1, but he remained winless on the season with a fourth-place finish.
The following is a look at a few of the top favorites to win this Sunday’s race along with my top value pick based on odds provided by Bovada.
When you have a combination of a great driver on a classic track in a very high-profile race, it is easy to see why Bovada has opened Jimmie Johnson as a 9/2 favorite to win this year’s Brickyard 400. The No. 48 car has already crossed the finish line first in three point races this season and the team is currently in fifth-place in the Sprint Cup standings with 598 points. Johnson came dangerously close to winning last year’s race with a second-place finish after taking the checkered flag in four of the past seven Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis.
The second favorite on the board to win on Sunday is Brad Keselowski at 11/2. The 2012 Sprint Cup Champion has returned to form after a disappointing season last year and the No. 2 car comes into this race with two victories in its last three runs. It is now in third place in the standings with 634 points and just one of two teams with three Sprint Cup victories on the year. Keselowski has raced in the Brickyard 400 four previous times and his best finish was ninth in both 2011 and 2012. A 21st finish in last year’s race drains a bit more value from these odds.
Kevin Harvick is one of two drivers listed at 15/2 odds to win this race as a third favorite. The No. 4 car has made its way to Victory Lane twice this season to firm-up its spot in the Chase, but it is only in 13th place in the standings with 528 points. This team is coming off poor runs in its last two Sprint Cup races and it has finished 20th or higher in three of its last four trips around the track. Adding some value back into Harvick’s odds to win this race is a respectable average finishing position of 10.9 at Indianapolis. It has been a rough go of it in his last three visits to the Brickyard, but he did win this race in 2003 and he finished second in 2010.
Top Value Pick
This week’s field remains wide open to cash-in on a driver with longer odds, but I am going with the one in the best overall form as my value pick with a play on Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 11/1. This has easily been his best performance in Sprint Cup racing in years with two victories and seven additional top-five finishes. The No. 88 car is holding down the second spot in the standings with 658 total points and it has only finished outside the top 10 in one of its last seven Sprint Cup races. Dale Jr. has never won this race, but he did finish sixth in last year’s Brickyard 400 and fourth the year before.