The Brickyard 400 is peculiar.
The race is contested on the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the undisputed most famed speedway in the world. The track is a unique 2.5-mile rectangular-shaped oval unlike any other track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Yet despite being so different, the track somehow has become the most rock-steady indicator for who will compete for a championship in the series over the past 25 seasons.
Did you know that nine times in the 25 editions of the Brickyard 400 that the winner of the race has gone on to hoist the Cup Series championship at season’s end?
No matter what championship format the sanctioning body has opted to use, whether it be a season-long championship, the original Playoff-style format — the Chase, or the new elimination-style Playoff format, winners of the Brickyard 400 have gone on to win the championship in each points format.
In fact, the eventual Cup Series champion has averaged a mind-boggling 7.4 finish in the Brickyard 400 over the years. In addition to the nine wins, eventual champions have finished inside the top-five 15 times and inside the top-10 a staggering 20 times over the 25 annual trips to Speedway, Indiana.
Chances are, someone inside the final top-10 running order of Sunday’s race will go on to win the championship.
That being said, whoever out-duels the field to win Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard stands the most decent chance of winning the 2019 championship based on past results.
In fact, the winners of the Brickyard 400 — even when they didn’t go on to score a Series championship — have fared insanely well in the year-end championship standings.
Of the 25 winners of this race, they have an average championship points finish of 5.72. Those are incredible numbers.
Only six times in the 25 years of NASCAR being at the Brickyard has the winner of this race finished outside the top-10 in the year-end championship standings (Ricky Rudd — 17th in 1997, Bill Elliott — 13th in 2002, Jamie McMurray — 14th in 2010, Paul Menard — 17th in 2011, Ryan Newman — 11th in 2013 and Kasey Kahne — 15th in 2017).
If you win Sunday’s race, more likely than not you’re going on to finish rather high in the year-end championship standings.
Regardless if Indianapolis doesn’t always put on the most intriguing on-track action in the NASCAR Cup Series, it will be a must-watch as this will give you the best preview of who to expect to take the Cup Series title in Homestead.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.