2018 NASCAR Preview: Week 26 – Indianapolis

Setting the playoff field..at The Brickyard..

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.


Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson have 83 wins between them, and 4 at Indianapolis…all of which belong to Johnson. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

Here’s what to look for:


Kyle Busch will start first in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

–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 second in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

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.


Furniture Row Racing announced that it will cease operations following the 2018 season. Truex will be moving over to Joe Gibbs Racing, but that is 2019. Today he drives for Furniture Row, looking to avenge the loss last year. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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 places a sticker on his car after winning the 2018 Southern 500. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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 made the playoffs last year after an improbable win. In order to lock in this year, he’d need to do one even more so. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

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.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Rain is still a threat.  Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 1:00pm, green flag scheduled for 1:06pm.

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