ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 25 FOR THE BRICKYARD
1. Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya finished 30th at Loudon, his fourth 30th-or-worse finish of 2011. He’s dropped to 17th in the Cup standings. In four starts at The Brickyard, Montoya has one Top Five and one pole with an Average Finish of 21st. He’s led 166 (2009) and 86 (2010) laps in each of his last two starts, both ending in heartbreak. He’s started inside the Top Two on the grid three times. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Montoya ranks second in Driver Rating (106.4) and fourth in Average Running Position (11.5). He leads all drivers in Laps Led (202) and Fastest Laps Run (105). To say Montoya needs this one is an understatement. Between his 2011 inconsistencies and his history of meltdowns at a venue he should dominate, he needs to win this race. Start him in all Tiered/Grouping formats.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson recorded his second straight Top Five (fifth) at Loudon two weeks back which put him up to second in the Cup standings – just seven-points off the lead. In nine starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Johnson has three wins (2006, 2008-09), four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 18.3. He’s led at least one lap in his last three starts and in at least one lap in four of his last five. He’s started inside the Top Two on the grid in two of his last three starts. Johnson ranks fourth in DR (100.1) and ninth in ARP (13.8). Don’t be like the old, cheap rich guy with your Johnson starts ’cause when it’s over you can’t take ’em with you. He’s won three of the last five Brickyard events and is a lock for a Top Five finish.
Another result like this (above) and Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chase
chances are over. Photo Credit: NASCAR Media
3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick turned in a 21st-place performance at Loudon, just his second finish of 20th-or-worse since opening weekend at Daytona. In 10 starts at Indianapolis, Harvick has one win (2003), four Top Fives, seven Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 9.9. He’s led at least eight laps in three of his last five starts. His pole is his lone start inside the Top Four on the grid. Harvick ranks sixth in DR (95.1) and eighth in ARP (13.4). Thanks to his Series leading three wins and his current Cup standing (fourth), Harvick is free to take chances and gamble for wins – not that he’s conservative to begin with. With his eye sure to be on the prize and “points racing” out the window, the sky is the limit from here on out.
4. Jeff Gordon: Gordon led 19 laps in an 11th-place performance at Loudon. In 17 Brickyard starts, Gordon has four wins (1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004), nine Top Fives, 13 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 9.5. He’s led at least three laps in 10 starts. Gordon ranks 10th in DR (93.3) and 12th in ARP (14.3). Since those numbers came into play (2005), Gordon has led laps (seven) just once (2008) and hasn’t started inside the Top Four on the grid at all. Despite that, he still has two Top Fives and four Top 10s in that six race span. Gordon is back to his old self, and can be trusted in all formats any given week.
5. Tony Stewart: Stewart matched his best finish (second) of 2011 at Loudon, leading 48 laps. In 12 starts at IMS, Stewart has two wins (2005, 2007), six Top Fives, eight Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 8.3. He’s led at least two laps in six of his last 10 starts. He’s recorded back-to-back Top Fives at Indy. Stewart leads all drivers in DR (109.3), Average Green Flag Speed (169.952 mph) and Quality Passes (184). He ranks second in ARP (9.0), Laps in the Top 15 (788), and Fastest Laps Run (86). Smoke is primed to get hot at the right time, and should make the Chase with ease. He’s a safe start in all formats.
6. Kyle Busch: Prior to a 36th-place finish at Loudon, Busch logged four Top Fives in his previous five starts. In six starts at The Brickyard, Busch has one Top Five and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.7. He’s led at least eight laps in three of his last five starts. He’s never started higher than 16th on the grid. Busch ranks eighth in DR (94.0) and 10th in ARP (14.0). Not that he’d ever play it safe and points race, but there is significantly less pressure to do so thanks to his three wins and sure entry into the Chase. Busch will be going all out for the Checkered Flag, as usual.
7. Carl Edwards: He finished 13th at Loudon, but did manage to lead one lap. In six Indy starts, Edwards has one Top Five and three Top 10s with an Average Finish of 10.5. He’s led at least one lap in two of his last three starts. Edwards ranks 15th in DR (87.8) and in ARP (15.6). Despite the less than impressive stats and data, Edwards did finish second at IMS in 2008 with a 121.8 DR and 5.6 ARP. There are safer options out there, though Edwards has been the most consistent performer of 2011.
8. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has struggled mightily in his past three Cup starts (Average Finish of 29.3). Prior to his struggles he posted eighth (Michigan) and fourth-place (Infineon) finishes, which indicates these issues are temporary. In five starts at Indy, Bowyer has two Top Fives with an Average Finish of 11.6. He’s never led a lap at The Brickyard. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid once. Bowyer ranks 13th in DR (89.6) and seventh in ARP (12.4). He’s never finished worse than 19th and came in fourth last season. He’s a quality Tiered/Grouping format option.
9. Mark Martin: Martin has led at least three laps in two of his last three Cup starts. In 17 starts at IMS, Martin has six Top Fives, 10 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 13.2. He’s led at least 10 laps in his last two starts. His Average Finish in his last three starts is second, never lower than third on the grid. Martin ranks third in DR (105.3) and leads all competitors in ARP (8.6). He’s recorded six consecutive Top 12s at Indy, and is certain to make it seven.
10. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth’s streak of eight straight Top 15s was snapped at Loudon (20th), but he figures to start a new streak this weekend. In 11 Indy starts, Kenseth has four Top Fives and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.1. He’s led at least nine laps in three starts. He’s never started higher than 10th on the grid (2008). Kenseth ranks 11th in DR (92.7) and in ARP (14.0). Regardless of the spotty history, he’s too consistent right now for that to matter. He’ll come at a supreme value in all formats.
11. Greg Biffle: Two Top Fives and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.9 in eight starts at The Brickyard. 97.7 DR.
12. Jamie McMurray: One win (2010), two Top Fives and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.3 in eight Indy starts. 82.3 DR.
13. Kurt Busch: One Top Five and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 18.1 in 10 starts at IMS. 71.0 DR.
14. Denny Hamlin: One Top Five and two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.8 in five Brickyard starts. 88.9 DR.
15. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 22.2 in 11 starts at Indy. 73.8 DR.
16. David Ragan: 70.2 DR.
17. Ryan Newman: 67.1.
18. Kasey Kahne: 90.8.
19. Brad Keselowski: 64.0.
20. Jeff Burton: 95.0.
21. Joey Logano
22. Paul Menard
23. Martin Truex Jr.
24. David Reutimann
25. A.J. Allmendinger
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