NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Busch (18) leads the field
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard (2 p.m. ET, NBC).
This is it. Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard is the final opportunity for drivers to qualify for the postseason before NASCAR’s playoffs get underway next week in Las Vegas.
Fourteen of 16 playoff spots are already locked up, with Clint Bowyer currently holding the 15th position, followed by Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman, who are tied for the final spot with 617 points.
Seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is currently on the outside looking in, sitting 18 points below the cutoff line.
To make this week’s NASCAR Props Challenge picks, I’ll rely heavily on betting odds to project expected driver performance.
1. Which playoff bubble driver will finish higher? Daniel Suarez or Ryan Newman?
Suarez is currently a -140 favorite against Newman in driver matchups at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Let’s let Vegas do the work here for us.
2. Will a driver with a previous Brickyard victory win on Sunday? Yes or No?
Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are past winners who are also among the favorites this week. Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard have also won this race, but they are listed among the longshots.
This is really close for me, but I’m going to take the field.
3. Which Team Penske driver has the better finish? Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano?
Once again, Vegas did the heavy lifting here, making Keselowski a -125 favorite over Logano in early-week driver matchups.
4. Three of the last six Indy winners have come from the first two rows. Will Sunday’s winner start in the top four? Yes or No?
Looking back a little further, six of past 10 winners have started outside of the top four, so I lean no.
5. O/U 3.5 drivers lead at least 20 laps?
Just one of the last five races at Indy has finished with at least four drivers leading 20 laps. Track position should also be crucial with the current aero package, making this an even easier pick for me.
6. O/U 4.5 Fords finish in the top 10?
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski should easily have top-10 speed on Sunday, but I have trouble expecting at least two more Fords to contend with the frontrunners.
Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola are candidates, but I’m not ready to bank on two of them doing so.
7. Kevin Harvick has the best average finish at Indianapolis at 9.4. Does he finish in the top 10 on Sunday? Yes or No?
Kyle Busch (3-1) is the only driver with odds better than Harvick (6-1) to win at Indy. Based on those numbers and his stats at the Brickyard, I’m willing to get behind a top-10 finish for Harvick.
8. Will the race winner lead O/U 80.5 laps?
Just one of the past five winners at Indianapolis has finished with more than 80 laps led (Kyle Busch led 149 in 2016), so I’m going under.
9. O/U 5.5 drivers score 10 or more stage points?
Just four drivers scored at least 10 stage points last year, so I think this will go under once again, even if drivers hit pit road before stage breaks like Clint Bowyer did prior to the end of Stage 2 in 2018.
10. Which team will have the highest finishing driver: Stewart-Haas or Hendrick?
Harvick’s odds of 6-1 dwarf the best Hendrick driver’s (Chase Elliott is 20-1), so give me Kevin and his Stewart-Haas team.
Pick: Stewart-Haas Racing