We’ve got 25 weeks in the books, and now with eleven to go, the playoff field is set today..in Indianapolis of all places! NASCAR made its debut at The Brickyard in 1994, something that many never thought would happen, with a Qualifying event featuring 85 drivers!. We’ve got 40 today, less than half of that, two of whom are Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman. They’d be in if the season ended right now, but a win from a first-time winner — like Kasey Kahne did last year — would knock one of them out. Conversely, either of them could win to secure their position, something Johnson has done many times in the past.
Here’s what to look for:
–Qualifying was rained out so points leader Kyle Busch will start first. Not a lot of pressure on the #18 today, long locked-in, but you still want to put on a good show. Two wins here and a 10.9 average finish.
—Kevin Harvick will start outside him. He’s actually got the best average finish of active drivers, a 9.7. He won here back in 2003, but nothing of that magnitude since. 6th last year, his previous four attempts were all Top 10s.
—Martin Truex Jr. is the third of our “Big 3,” and he’ll start in that position. We saw Truex and Kyle Busch get together here in a highly publicized late-race restart. Not sure if we’ll see something like that today, but it was certainly a sight to behold. Truex was fighting for the lead at the time of that incident, great notes which’ll certainly find their place with the 78 team this year with Practice and Qualifying washed out.
—Brad Keselowski won at Darlington in that awesome Miller Genuine Draft Throwback last week, something where the odds were against Penske, so to speak. His team hadn’t won the Southern 500 since the 70’s, all of that wiped away with Keselowski’s victory. Indianapolis is a place where Penske expects to do well, and the #2 is the bullet to do it. He ran 2nd to Kasey Kahne in 2017, a driver who won’t be in this race today due to dehydration issues.
—Chris Buescher has the 3rd best average finish of active drivers if you can believe that. 11.5 in two attempts, but good enough. He had a great finish for them at Darlington also, and momentum is everything. Buescher won a race at Pocono last year after rain shortened it, and it pays to be in the right place at the right time. Weather has already washed us out once this weekend.
Rain is still a threat. Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 1:00pm, green flag scheduled for 1:06pm.