As the dog days of the summer roll on, fans will inevitably focus on other sports. One of them will undoubtedly be focusing on NASCAR. There are only three races to go until “The Chase”. That determines the ultimate Cup Series Champion. It will be a bit of a chaotic time as not all the spots are clinched. Sixteen drivers will have a chance at glory but only one will reign supreme.
The top twelve drivers are listed below in our NASCAR Futures for this week’s Verizon 200.
Kyle Larson Not Favored in NASCAR Futures This Week?
It does seem hard to believe but Kyle Larson is not favored to win this week’s race at Indianapolis. Yes, it is a road course and a bit of a new one for the drivers. However, last week, the Hendrick Motorsports Racing Driver outsmarted two road experts in Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. The No. 5 was able to take advantage of Elliott’s mistakes and lack of tire reserve to coast to victory.
Now, that gave Larson his fifth win of the NASCAR season and he now is tied for the top spot with Denny Hamlin when it comes to regular-season points. Larson is such a quick study. Think of how well he has fared on tracks like Sonoma, Wisconsin (running well before bump), Austin, and then Watkins Glen last week.
Drivers that have the most points (but winless) would get seeded behind the winners. So, racers like Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, and Kevin Harvick might cause Larson some distress but the No. 5 is not phased by it.
There is a bit of concern with Larson and the road course at Indianapolis. The ROVAL at Charlotte presented some problems for Larson in testing. How much has he learned with this new 2.439-mile road course.
Again, all it takes is some race conditions to learn quickly.
This is where the debate for NASCAR Futures begins. Naturally, no one quite knows what will happen with this new track at Indianapolis. Fans do like the variety, however.
Is Chase Elliott Really the Favorite?
It is easy to see why Elliott could be the favorite again. No driver has led as many laps as him this year on the road. The biggest problem the No. 9 had on Sunday was his own inability to manage his race car in the critical moments.
However, that car was honestly the fastest on the track on Sunday. If not, for the overwearing of the tires and a few driver errors, Chase Elliott probably wins the Go Bowling at The Glen. It was just one of those races where Kyle Larson learned his lessons from a Martin Truex Jr. One can lose the race by overdriving the car. Remember, Elliott had to come from the rear of the field. It took so long for him to do so that he never led a lap in the 90-lap race.
Again, that should not be a problem this week. After all, Elliott can’t have another pit crew mishap, right? At least, that is the rationale in the process. If he starts closer to where he is accustomed, Elliott is 2 for 2 on road race debuts. A win at the Brickyard would make it 3 for 3.
Hence, our NASCAR futures pick below is while one can get it.
Chase ElliottTo win the Verizon 200 At The Brickyard
Ahead of the final three races leading to “The Chase”, there is a slight chance that Denny Hamlin could wind up missing the NASCAR playoffs altogether. A lot would have to happen but the door is open to the possibility. This would tilt the NASCAR Futures at least a little more.
Currently, in spite of a fifth last week at Watkins Glen, Hamlin stands tied with Kyle Larson in terms of points. This puts drivers like Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick on the bubble. However, if three different drivers were to somehow win and points broke right, Hamlin would be the odd racer out.
According to Driver Averages, the driver has the fifth-best average finish at 8.8 and has a decent driver’s rating on road courses the past three years at 95.4. Does Hamlin need the win more than most drivers? For his confidence, that answer may actually be yes.
For NASCAR Futures, our best bet is straying away from Hamlin for now. However, do not be surprised if he comes close to winning this week. He did lead six laps last week and his car looked good until that long run very late in the race. The Indianapolis road track may help Joe Gibbs Racing drivers a bit on Sunday.
NASCAR Futures looking away from Kyle Busch?
The odds for Kyle Busch are almost chilly at best this week. After all, the No. 18 does not fare all that well on these hybrid road tracks. The younger Busch does not rate among the top ten on road courses overall. 2021 has been different overall though.
The question becomes can Busch race well on this track. He is worse than Kyle Larson, when it comes to those pesky hybrid road courses. Again drivers like Martin Truex Jr, Christopher Bell, and even Denny Hamlin may be more suited for this course. They present better value and may be ones to look at other than the usual Elliott and Larson.
Our Bet for NASCAR Futures…
Take Chase Elliott to win the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis on Sunday.
Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.