For years NASCAR celebrated Fourth of July weekend on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. This year the Independence Day celebraton for the NASCAR Cup Series moves over to another hallowed grounds for motorsports in the United States. Sunday NASCAR returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the running of the Big Machine 400.
NASCAR Big Machine 400 Preview
NASCAR has held just 26 total Cup Series events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway dating back to 1994. Only five active series drivers have wins at the track, led by seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who has kissed the bricks at Indianapolis four times over his career.
Kevin Harvick (two wins), Kyle Busch (two wins), Brad Keselowski (one win) and Ryan Newman (one win) are the other current Cup Series drivers with wins at Indianapolis.
Harvick (5-1) won last year’s Cup Series event at Indianapolis. His other win at the track came in 2003. Harvick’s career average finish of 8.9 leads all all-time in Cup Series action at the Brickyard.
In 19 career Cup starts at Indianapolis Harvick has seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10’s Harvick has finished sixth or better in the last five events at Indianapolis and hasn’t finished outside of the top-eight since 2013 so looks like a solid online bet for the occasion.
One of the biggest stories this year in NASCAR has been that reigning series champion Busch is still looking for his first series win through 15 events.
Busch (6-1) won consecutive events at Indianapolis in 2015-16, but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing appearance at the historic facility in 2019 when engine issues forced him to retire just past the halfway mark of the event. Busch’s only other DNF at Indianapolis came in 2016 when he was involved in a wreck after leading 87 laps.
Over 15 Cup starts at Indianapolis Busch has five top-five finishes and 11 top-10’s with an average finish of 12.5.
Another driver looking to rebound in the Big Machine 400 from a rough finish at Indianapolis in 2019 is Keselowski, who was relegated to a 38th place finish last year due to a crash early.
Keselowski (9-1) was victorious in 2018 despite only leading nine of 160 laps in that year’s event. But Keselowski’s days of frustration have far outnumbered his days of triumph at Indianapolis. He was second in 2017, but that was preceded by four consecutive years where his best finish was a 10th place. In 10 starts he has five top-10 finishes and four finishes of 17th or worse.
Only retired driver Jeff Gordon’s five victories at Indianapolis tops Johnson’s win record at the Brickyard. Johnson (26-1) had wins in 2006, ’08, ’09 and ’12 at Indianapolis. Despite the number of wins, Indianapolis hasn’t been a place of much consistency for Johnson. Over 18 career starts Johnson only has seven top-10 finishes.
Newman’s lone victory at the Brickyard came in 2013. Newman (81-1) has had top-10 finishes in the last three events at Indianapolis, including a third place in 2017.
Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano (9-1) has been stout at Indianapolis, but still looks for his first Brickyard win for a car owner who is legendary at the historic venue and now owns the track.
Over his last seven starts at Indianapolis Logano has finished eighth or better six times, including runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2019. Logano’s average finish of 10.9 is second best of active drivers and third best all-time at the track.
Denny Hamlin (6-1) is another driver who has seemingly been on the brink at Indianapolis for years, but unable to break through to kissing the bricks.
Over his last eight starts at the Brickyard Hamlin has finished in the top-six six times including a pair of third place finishes. In 14 career Cup starts in Indianapolis Hamlin has eight top-10’s overall with an average finish of 12.4. Over 14 starts at the track he’s led 112 laps.
That’s all for our preview of the Big Machine 400 at Indianapolis, good luck.