Overton's 400 Preview
July 25, 2017
By Micah Roberts
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When is Kyle Busch going to finally win a race?
He got royally screwed on Sunday going for his historic third straight Brickyard win. The Las Vegan had the best car on the track and the second best car, driven by Martin Truex Jr., was the one who ended his day when Truex's tires couldn't stick to the asphalt coming around Turn 1 while they arced side-by-side late in the race.
"There goes Truex and he takes Busch with him. The first and second-place cars are done for the day."
Kasey Kahne would go on to win his first Brickyard 400 and first win anywhere since August of 2014 in Atlanta. He's locked in to the playoffs and he's also the ninth straight different winner on the schedule. It's a diverse bunch in the Cup Series with 13 different winners on the season now, even though Joey Logano's Richmond win doesn't officially qualify him for the playoffs because his crew chief bent the rule book too much.
The fact that Kyle Busch isn't one of those 13 winning drivers is absolutely amazing. He's had all kinds of bad luck this season and Sunday's race was just one on a long list of crummy stories.
Despite Busch not having won a race since last seasons Brickyard 400, he's still going to be considered a favorite to win Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway's 2.5-mile tricky triangle. He's never won there in 25 career starts, but when looking back at the June 11 race there and last week at the Brickyard it's easy to understand why he's a great candidate to win. Pocono and Indy can be grouped in because of the 2.5-mile layout long straights and flat corners.
All he did at Pocono last month was lead 100 of the 160 laps, but have the misfortune of using older tires on a restart with 10 laps to go and getting beat out of the gate by eventual winner Ryan Blaney. On Sunday he led 87 of the 160 laps at the Brickyard. He clearly had the best cars in both races and yet came away with ninth-place finish and a 34th-place finish.
Busch just has to be patient and not get too frustrated. The good news for him is that two weeks ago his teammate Denny Hamlin grabbed the first win of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR had been tinkering with the new Camry body style and engine horsepower all season. They didn't expect it all to fully come around until the playoffs started, but it happened much earlier. And we're seeing the effect of it with Busch, Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and even Daniel Suarez being at their best lately.
Historically, Hamlin has been the best at Pocono with four wins in 23 starts. Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with 738 laps led while winning three times in 31 starts. Kurt Busch also has three wins and leads the series with 14 top-5s in 32 starts.
A long shot to consider is Dale Earnhardt Jr. (50/1), who swept the Pocono season in 2014. Last season he was runner-up. This is his final season before jumping into the NBC broadcasting booth next season and it's probably his best chance to win and qualify for the playoffs.
Top 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #18 Kyle Busch (6/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (12/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (10/1)
4) #78 Martin Truex Jr. (6/1)
5) #42 Kyle Larson (8/1)