Any sporting event is a joyous occasion these days, but Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was supposed to be extremely special. Two iconic events, the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis 500 were supposed to come together for a doubleheader day of racing. NASCAR even moved its annual Independence Day Weekend race at Daytona, the Coke Zero 400, to be on hand at IMS.
It was not to be, as COVID-19 robbed us of yet another thing in the sports world. On the bright side, the NASCAR race will go on as scheduled, as the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 is set for Sunday July 5. The Indy 500 has been moved to August 23.
Fans will not be on hand to surround the 2.5-mile asphalt oval that has that legendary strip of brick. Drivers probably won’t kiss the bricks either, unless, of course, they do so through a mask. The new normal has certainly thrown us all for a loop.
The new normal of NASCAR kind of looks a lot like the old normal as far as the betting odds at DraftKings Sportsbook are concerned. Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch are still lined at the top of the board week after week and then guys like Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney make up the second tier in some order.
Harvick has the shortest price at +400. Among active drivers, Harvick is second to Kyle Busch in laps led with 321. Busch has 324. Harvick has two wins and 13 career top-10 finishes in 19 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch, lined at +550, has 11 top-10 finishes and two wins of his own, which came in back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016. Harvick’s most recent win just so happened to be last year. He went 16 years in between wins at the Brickyard.
Harvick is +115 to finish in the top three and Busch is +150. Busch is still searching for his first win this season, but has four finishes of third or better. Harvick has three wins and three additional top-three results.
Even though Busch and Harvick look like top contenders, along with Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, Team Penske could be very feisty this weekend. Keselowski and Logano are both +750. Logano tends to run very well on big tracks and Keselowski has a win, two top-fives, and five top-10s in his 10 starts at IMS. He’s led 108 laps and won this race two years ago.
Logano hasn’t won here yet, but has four top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes in 11 races. Logano and Keselowski are both +200 to finish in the top three, but -275 for a top-10 finish looks like a good bet if you are willing to embrace a little chalk.
Blaney is a tough handicap this weekend. On one hand, he looks like a fade candidate, as he hasn’t finished in the top five in any of his five races at Indianapolis. On the other hand, Blaney has shown a lot of speed this season and is actually second in points. He’s +1200 for the win and -195 for a top-10 finish.
Of the short prices, Keselowski and Logano are good bets this week.
Are there any long shots worthy of consideration? Indiana race fans will be happy to hear this name. How about Ryan Newman at +10000? He probably won’t win, but he’s +2500 for a top-three finish and +250 for a top-10 finish. Something about this track has been good for the South Bend native, who won here in 2013 and has three top-10 finishes in a row, including a third back in 2017.
Maybe it is something of a homer pick, but Newman has run well at Talladega and Daytona in recent years and those are two big tracks. He could have won the Daytona 500 this year before that horrific crash. If nothing else, Newman at -115 over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looks like a good matchup bet. Newman is also +230 in his group with Chris Buescher, Cole Custer, and Stenhouse.
In additional matchup action, Clint Bowyer quietly has four top-five finishes in 14 races here. He is -115 against William Byron, who is getting a depressed price because he finished fourth here last year. Bowyer has been the more consistent of the two drivers.
The Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 will be on NBC on Sunday afternoon.