NASCAR Big Machine Vodka 400 preview: Erik Jones is a solid play

Brandon Coppinger

September 5th, 2019

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to race in the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, September 8. It is the last points race of the regular season, and drivers will be racing with different strategies to achieve different goals. Some drivers will be racing exclusively for the checkered flag, while others will be racing just to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Should you handicap the racing differently because of the situation the race provides? No. It should be treated like any other race. The drivers on the playoff bubble are not capable of winning races at the moment.

Big Machine Vodka 400 odds

Kyle Busch
Denny Hamlin
Kevin Harvick
Martin Truex Jr.
Erik Jones
Here are the two drivers who are capable of taking the checkered flag this weekend.

Kevin Harvick (+550)

There are multiple reasons to like Kevin Harvick this weekend. No driver in the field holds a better average finish in his career than Harvick at 9.39. He has 18 starts at the track with one win (2003), six top fives, and 12 top 10s. Harvick and his team have run well over the last six Cup races. He’s taken two checkered flags with three top-five finishes. If it wasn’t for Denny Hamlin, I would say he’s the car to beat right now. Harvick and Hamlin have really shown some muscle over the last several weeks.
Since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Harvick has never finished worse than eighth. In those five races at Indianapolis for SHR, he has started on the front row three times. History tells us Harvick will qualify well and be able to stay up front all race long. If he can stay out of trouble, I expect Harvick to be kissing the bricks Sunday with his team owner Tony Stewart.

Erik Jones (+700)

Hamlin could easily be the play here over Erik Jones, but the +700 price is more tempting than the +500 on Hamlin. The word is out on Hamlin now, so his value is gone.

In the six Cup races, Jones and his team have picked up a checkered flag with four top-five finishes. Jones has two starts at the Brickyard, with a 31st-place finish in 2017 and a second-place finish a year ago. Pocono is somewhat similar to the Brickyard and Jones does well there. This type of track is right in Jones’ wheelhouse.

Can Jones go back-to-back after last week’s win in the Southern 500? I’d say so. He is finally ready to take that next step, but he’ll have to beat his teammates, Kyle Busch and Hamlin.

Play against: Martin Truex Jr. (+700)

Here is a little bonus tip for this weekend. Read these stats and let them speak for themselves. Martin Truex Jr has 20 starts at Indianapolis with one top-five finish and three in the top 10. Truex has three DNF’s at the track, with an average finish of 20.93. Truex hates this track.

Play to win: Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones

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