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What to watch for: Indianapolis

Dale Junior's Last Trip to Indianapolis

This will be the last Brickyard 400 before Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires as a full-time driver. Earnhardt is a 2-time Daytona 500 winner, but has never won at Indianapolis, where his father won the 2nd running of the Brickyard 400 in 1995. However, this has never been one of his better tracks.

Despite a blown engine at Pocono and a wreck at Daytona, Earnhardt Jr. has bounced back over the past few weeks. However, good finishes aren't going to be enough to make the playoffs. He sits 21st in the playoff standings (only 16 make the playoffs), and is 173 points behind 16th-place Matt Kenseth.

The 1-Year Anniversary of Kyle Busch's Last Win

Over the last 2 seasons, there's been 2 Cup Series and 2 XFINITY Series races at Indianapolis, and Kyle Busch has won all of them. Although the end result was the same, those 2 Cup victories came in different fashions.

Nobody in Indianapolis 500 or Brickyard 400 history has ever won the event 3 straight years. Kyle Busch, with a win in either Sunday's Brickyard 400 or Saturday's XFINITY Series race at the track, would become the 4th driver to win an event at least 3 straight years at Indianapolis, and the other 3 drivers did so in races that are no longer run at the track: Mark Martin, who won 3 straight IROC (International Race of Champions) races, Michael Schumacher, who won the U.S. Grand Prix 4 straight years it was held at the track, and Marc Márquez, who won the MotoGP race the last 3 years it was run.

Kyle Busch is in the midst of a 35-race winless streak dating back to last year's Brickyard 400. That ties the longest winless streak of his Cup Series career. In that time, Busch has led 1,350 laps, but just never the final one.

Johnson Seeks Record 5th Indianapolis Win

Jimmie Johnson will be seeking his 5th Brickyard 400 win, which would tie his former teammate, Jeff Gordon, for the most in the race's history. No driver has won 5 Indy 500s, and only F1 legend Michael Schumacher has won the U.S. Grand Prix 5 times when it was held on the track's infield from 2000-07.

He's driving for the right team, as Hendrick Motorsports has won the Brickyard 400 in 9 of 23 years it's been held, including the inaugural race in 1994. However, all 9 of those wins have come by Johnson or Gordon.

Truex Keeps Adding to His Total

With another 137 laps led last week at New Hampshire, a race he eventually finished 3rd, Martin Truex Jr. is up to 1,252 laps led on the season in 19 races, an average of 65.9 per race. If he keeps up that pace, it'll be the best mark in the playoff era, and the most since Jeff Gordon averaged 74.7 in 1996.

One place Truex hasn't led many laps is Indianapolis, where he's led 3 laps in 12 career starts, his fewest at any track. All of those laps led came in 2008 for Dale Earnhardt Inc., a race he finished 24th.

Trucks Hit the Dirt at Eldora

This will be the 5th straight season the Truck Series will be racing on the dirt at Eldora, a track in western Ohio owned by 3-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. In 4 races there, there's been 4 different winners, 2 now in the Cup Series, a 3rd that was there as a sub earlier this season, and a 4th (Bell), who is one of the sport's top prospects.

The only name on that list without a Cup race on his resume is Bell, but you'll likely see more of him, as he's a developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Christopher Bell - Career Resume
- Finished 4th in NXS debut at Charlotte in May
- 5 wins in 40 career Truck Series starts
- Won in 3rd Truck Series race (at Eldora)
- Won 26 dirt races in 2014
- 2013 USAC National Midget Championship

Who's Hot and Who's Not - Indianapolis Edition

HOT
• Kyle Busch: won last 2 Brickyard 400s; no driver has ever won 3 straight Brickyard 400s or Indianapolis 500s
• Denny Hamlin: top-5 finish in last 5 Brickyard 400s (tied with Kyle Busch for longest active streak)
• Jimmie Johnson: 4-time Brickyard 400 winner (1 from tying Jeff Gordon for most wins in race)
• Kyle Larson: never finished worse than 9th in 3 career Brickyard 400s
• Matt Kenseth: finished 7th or better in last 4 Indianapolis races
• Joey Logano: 5.5 Avg finish in last 4 Indianapolis races (19.8 in his first 4)

NOT
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 1 top-5 finish in 16 career Indianapolis races (tied for his fewest at any track)
• Martin Truex Jr.: 3 laps led at Indianapolis (his fewest at any MENCS track)
• Brad Keselowski: never finished better than 9th in 7 career Brickyard 400s (only track where he's run a Cup race without a top-5 finish)
• Kurt Busch: no top-5 finishes at Indianapolis in last 15 races (finished 5th in his 1st race there in 2001)
• Danica Patrick: never finished better than 22nd in 4 career Brickyard 400s

--- ESPN Stats & Info ---