On Sunday, September 8th, NASCAR will be live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard. This annual Indy race is the 26th and final race of the regular season. Currently, four drivers are fighting for the last two playoff spots.
14 of NASCAR’s top drivers have already locked up playoff spots, but most are still jockeying for position in the standings. Currently, Joe Gibbs Racing has three drivers at the top of the playoff points as Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. all have four wins apiece. Busch leads the field in both driver and playoff points.
According to NASCAR betting sites, Kyle Busch is also the odds on favorite to win this weekend’s race with Hamlin, Harvick, and Truex closely behind him. Let’s take a look at these NASCAR betting odds, identify potential value, examine a few Brickyard 400 prop bets, and take the checkered flag with our winning pick.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is arguably the most famous racetrack in the world. It’s not only home to NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, and all of its various names, but it’s also home to the Indianapolis 500. This track broke ground in 1909, but didn’t start holding NASCAR races until 1994.
The name “brickyard” refers to the strip of bricks at the finish line that symbolizes when the track used to be paved with over three million bricks. The Big Machine Vodka 400 race itself breaks down as follows:
The Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard is set to begin at 1 PM ET and will air live on NBC Sports Network.
With all of the racing drama heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the following on-track storylines are worth keeping an eye on at Indianapolis:
The first Brickyard 400, the original name of this race, was held in 1994 and won by a young Jeff Gordon. He beat out Dale Earnhardt Sr. who won it the next year. Gordon would go on to win this race a record five times. Among active drivers, Jimmie Johnson has four wins and Kyle Busch has two.
Brad Keselowski is the defending champion of this race. Six previous winners will take the starting field on Sunday. The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 1994:
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
According to most NASCAR betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard:
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
|Martin Truex Jr.||0||1||3||18.8||20.9||3|
Busch is running consistently in the Top 10, but hasn’t won a race in over three months. Although he sits atop the driver standings, Kyle would love to get a win heading into the postseason. I thought last weekend at Darlington was a great chance for Busch to win, but he finished third overall.
Kyle’s car faded late in the race as his teammate Erik Jones pulled away and Kyle Larson passed him up. Busch has six Top 9 finishes in his last seven races. Over that span, he hasn’t finished worse than 11th.
At Indy, Busch has won two times in his 14 starts. What’s even more impressive is his eleven Top 10 finishes. Busch finished eighth here last year and crashed out of this race in 2017. Prior to that, he won both races in 2015 and 2016. Kyle also has an average finish of 10.7, which is second best among active drivers.
I believe Busch will be a player in this weekend’s race. The only question is whether or not he fades late or takes the checkered flag this time?
Hamlin has been one of the best drivers in NASCAR over the second half of the regular season. Prior to last weekend’s 29th finish at Darlington, Hamlin had won two of the previous four races and had six straight Top 5 finishes. He also went from sixth to third in the standings.
At Indy, Hamlin has yet to win a Brickyard 400 race, but he does have a 53.8% Top 10 finishing rate and a 12.8 average finish in 13 starts. Over the last seven races at Indy, Hamlin has five Top 6 finishes and has led in four of them.
Hamlin went from a being a good driver to one of the best this year. He’s competing with his teammates Busch and Truex for the 2019 championship. It’s going to be an exciting postseason for Joe Gibbs Racing. As for this weekend, look for Hamlin to contend for a checkered flag as he has nothing to lose.
Two races ago, Harvick had an issue with his clutch and he ended up finishing 39th at Bristol. It ended a streak of four straight Top 7 finishes of which he won two of those races. Last weekend, Harvick bounced back with a fourth-place result at Darlington and will be a factor this weekend.
Harvick has a 9.4 average finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is the best among all active drivers. He’s had five straight Top 8 finishes and led in three of those races. Harvick has won at this track, but it was way back in 2003. Since then, his best finish was in 2010 when he finished second.
Harvick was winless until seven races ago at New Hampshire. He’s put together some solid races since then and appears to be trending upwards as we head into the postseason. Harvick will be aiming to get another Brickyard 400 win this weekend, but can he compete with JGR’s stable of cars?
Speaking of JGR, Truex Jr. has been the forgotten driver as of late. He hasn’t won in 10 races and is heading to a track where he’s had little success. If there’s anyone on the Joe Gibbs Racing team who needs a strong run this weekend to get some mojo back, it’s Truex.
Truex has more DNFs (3) than the rest of the betting favorites combined. He hasn’t finished a race since 2016 when he ended up eighth. Martin has only one Top 5 and three Top 10s in 14 career appearances. His average finish is 20.9 and he’s only led 11 laps in 14 Indy races. Those numbers are abysmal.
Of the betting favorites, Truex is the one to avoid. And that pains me, since he’s one of my favorite drivers. But there are better options this Sunday than the #19 car.
One option that’s worthy of a wager, more than Truex, is Brad Keselowski. He won this race last year and finished runner up in 2017. In nine starts, he has five Top 10s and an 11.1 average finish. He’s also led in four straight races and seven of nine appearances at this track.
Keselowski has been consistently good at Indy, only finishing outside of the Top 20 on one occasion. He will need another strong running this weekend, as Brad hasn’t won on the season since race 12 at Kansas. Keselowski has finished in the Top 10 for five out of the last six races, but hasn’t been a threat to win.
The following NASCAR drivers offer betting value for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard due to their current betting odds, their past success at this track, and their 2019 season so far.
|Driver||Wins||Top 5||Top 10||Avg Start||Avg Finish||DNF|
Over the last five races, Larson has gone from 14th to 9th in the standings. His charge up the rankings is due to five straight Top 8 finishes, including a runner up last weekend in Darlington to Erik Jones. Kyle has found his momentum heading into the playoffs despite having not won a race this season.
In five Indy appearances, Larson has one Top 5 and three Top 10s. He also has the fifth-best average finish with 12.6. The last two years have been disappointing for Larson in this race. He was 14th in 2018 and crashed out in 2017. If he can regain his early form at Indy, then he will be a Top 5 car on Sunday.
Bowyer comes into this weekend just eight points ahead of the cutoff, which means he’s in the playoffs as of now. However, a poor performance on Sunday could leave Bowyer on the outside looking in.
Clint has had an up and down year with only eleven Top 10s in 25 races this regular season. With that said, he has two Top 7 finishes in a row and is aware of what’s on the line this Sunday at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bowyer’s 14.2 average finish is the seventh best among active drives and he did finish fifth in last year’s race. However, he crashed out in 2017 and hasn’t been a factor in any race before then. Nevertheless, with the playoffs on the line, I can see Bowyer finishing in the Top 10 on Sunday.
Unlike Bowyer, Johnson is 18 points below the cutoff, which means he won’t make the playoffs unless he has a strong showing this weekend. The #48 car has been in a bit of a slump over the last six races with an average finish of just under 24. Fortunately, he comes to a track where he’s been brilliant throughout his career.
Johnson leads all active drivers with four wins in the Brickyard 400. He’s also tied for the most Top 5s with six. Johnson hasn’t won here since 2012, but he’s had two Top 3 finishes since then. With his past success at Indy, and the playoffs on the line, I expect to see JJ racing for a checkered flag.
I considered putting Paul Menard (+8000) as my longshot this week, but it has to be Ryan Newman (+8000) once again. He’s currently sitting tied for the final playoff spot and will be racing for his postseason life on Sunday. Newman is a former Brickyard 400 winner, which also lends to picking him.
He has a strong shot at making the postseason, considering he’s had more success at this track than Daniel Suarez. Newman finished 10th here last year and third two seasons ago. He won this race in 2013 and has an average finish of 15.5 since then.
I believe Newman can beat out Menard and Suarez for a playoff spot, but can he surpass Clint Bowyer and hold off Jimmie Johnson?
The following NASCAR prop bets require bettors to choose the winning driver out of head-to-head matchups at the Big Machine Vodka 400 in Indianapolis. These driver matchups and betting odds are courtesy of 5Dimes.
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Martin Truex|
In the battle of JGR teammates, this head-to-head driving matchup has to go to Denny Hamlin. His numbers are better across the board than Truex’s numbers. Furthermore, he’s been running strong the last two months whereas Truex has been up and down.
At Indy, Hamlin has had four Top 5 finishes in the last five races. Truex has had only one over that span and has crashed out of the last two Brickyard 400 races.
Hamlin should compete for a Top 5 spot and maybe a checkered flag on Sunday. Unfortunately, his teammate will be lucky to crack the Top 15. Take Hamlin to win this matchup.
|Driver||Erik Jones||Brad Keselowski|
I didn’t talk much about Erik Jones in this preview, but he did finish runner up here last year. And he just won last weekend at Darlington, which cemented his spot in the postseason. Keselowski had his spot locked in by the beginning of the summer.
Jones comes in with more momentum at this track than Keselowski, but I like Brad in this matchup. Although Jones was runner up in 2018, it was Keselowski that won. And, in 2017, Jones crashed and finished 31st while Keselowski finished second overall.
I believe Jones is a great young driver, but I like Keselowski’s experience at this track to give him an advantage. Brad will compete for a Top 5 spot and the checkered flag while Jones will flirt with a Top 10 finish. Take Keselowski to win this matchup at Big Machine Vodka 400.
|Driver||Ryan Blaney||Clint Bowyer|
Of all the drivers in the Top 10 of the standings, Blaney is the most overlooked. He currently sits 10th in the standings and will qualify for the playoffs. However, he hasn’t threatened to win a checkered flag in the last half dozen races and I don’t see that happening this weekend either.
In fact, I don’t see Blaney outracing Bowyer at Indy on Sunday. With Blaney’s position cemented in the playoffs, Bowyer still has a lot to race for. Not to mention that Bowyer has performed better at this track than Blaney has. Ryan has crashed in two of his four races at Indy.
I believe Bowyer will be a Top 10 car and make the postseason, but I don’t see Blaney sneaking into the Top 10 this weekend. I’m a bit surprised that Blaney is listed as the favorite considering his lack of success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
My Top 10 for this race, in no particular order, are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, and maybe Clint Bowyer or Kurt Busch.
The top drivers in the standings have no pressure as they’re locked into playoff spots and can go all out for the checkered flag. I see drivers from Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing really benefitting from this pressure-free opportunity.
Keep in mind, this isn’t like racing in Chicago or Michigan. This is the Brickyard 400 at the most famous racetrack in the world. This is a race that every driver wants to win and have on their career resume, especially the ones who haven’t won yet.
I like Busch, Hamlin, Harvick, Logano, Larson, and Keselowski to battle for the checkered flag on Sunday. From there, it’s anyone’s guess. Will the teammates work together and win or will Harvick and Larson win without any help from a teammate?
On only two occasions has a driver won back-to-back Brickyards. So, the odds are against Keselowski. With Larson being winless on the season, I believe that trend will continue. Busch and Harvick have both won this race before, but I’m just not confident we will get a repeat winner this Sunday.
With that said, I believe Hamlin or Logano will get the win. Neither man has won this race before and are in the perfect position to do so. Both drivers are locked into the playoffs and have no pressure. Hamlin has been the hot driver over the last few months, but Logano is the defending series champ.
The smart play, if you agree with these two picks, would be to bet on both of them: Hamlin (+500) and Logano (+1000). Logano offers more value, but Hamlin has the momentum with six Top 5s in the last seven races and two wins during that span. Take Denny Hamlin to win on Sunday.
Every week, NASCAR releases 10 prop bets for fans to choose the right answers, earn points, and win prizes. For the 26th and final race of the regular season, there are a few props that I like and think you should check out.
As we always say, when it comes to a NASCAR event, there’s always a race within the race. Here’s a perfect example. Not only will we have the overall race where drivers try to take the checkered flag, we also have a race for the final playoff spots.
Currently, Suarez and Newman are tied for the final spot, but they are right behind Clint Bowyer in 15th and just ahead of Jimmie Johnson in 17th. These four men will compete for the last two spots and it will definitely be a tension-filled 160 laps.
Putting Bowyer and Johnson aside, this prop bet focuses on Newman and Suarez. Now, Daniel Suarez has only competed here twice on the top circuit. He has an average finish of 12.5, which is better than Newman’s 16.4. However, Newman has actually won this race whereas Suarez has not.
If we just look at the last two races, Suarez finished 18th and seventh. Newman finished 10th last year and third in 2017, giving him a 6.5 average finish. I believe Newman’s experience will be enough for the 2013 Brickyard 400 winner to finish ahead of Suarez on Sunday.
This Team Penske battle is going to be an exciting one. Both drivers have been locked into the playoffs for quite some time. They will be racing this weekend for a checkered flag and some momentum heading into the postseason.
Keselowski has the advantage over Logano with his win last year and a slightly better average finish of 11.1 to Logano’s 11.8. However, Joey has actually had a better average finish over the last six races than Keselowski has.
Over that span, Logano has a 6.5 average finish and Keselowski has a 10.5 average finish. Logano has five Top 10s and Keselowski has three Top 10s. I think both drivers can compete for a checkered flag on Sunday, but only one can finish with the higher spot.
For this interesting prop bet, I am going with Logano to finish higher. He has more Top 5s and Top 10s than Keselowski. Additionally, he hasn’t won since Michigan, and I expect him to be up there with the JGR cars or Harvick for the win.
In short, the answer is yes. Harvick has a 66.7% Top 10 rate at Indy. He’s notched twelve Top 10s in 18 career starts, which are both the most among active drivers. He’s coming into this weekend having finished in the Top 8 for the last five Indy races.
On the season, Harvick has a 64% Top 10 rate. However, it’s his last six overall races that have really put him in a great spot for the playoffs. Harvick has won two of those races and finished in the Top 7 for five of them. If it weren’t for a blown clutch at Bristol, Harvick could have notched another Top 10.
Not only has Harvick run well at Indy over the last five years, but he’s also in good form on the season as NASCAR readies itself for the playoffs next weekend. With that said, Harvick is one of a handful of drivers that have no pressure this weekend as their playoff spots are locked in. They can go all out for the win.
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