Why Jeff Gordon Will Win the 2016 Brickyard 400
Jeff Gordon is set to make his return to Nascar this weekend, where he’ll fill in for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the 2016 Brickyard 400.
Return of a Legend
THIS JUST IN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion) will miss next two races. Jeff Gordon to fill in. (via )
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)
The hype surrounding Gordon’s temporary exit out of retirement has the Nascar scene in a frenzy, with fans and experts alike wondering if the 44-year old can stage an upset in his first race since calling it quits at the end of the 2015 season.
It’d be shocking, but the suggestion that it’s impossible or even that unlikely would be a little lazy. After all, Gordon isn’t coming back from a lengthy absence. If anything, his hiatus has lasted less than a full year and he could be well rested and refreshed enough to give an elite field a serious run for their money.
Indy Motor Speedway Success
So, is there a strong notion going around that Jeff Gordon can actually win this thing? Why the heck not?
Gordon hasn’t been gone that long and considering how stacked Nascar has gotten in recent years, he didn’t even fare that badly in his final season.
Just in 2015 Gordon notched a win, ran inside the top-5 five different times and had a ridiculous 21 top-10 finishes.
Gordon wasn’t dominant during his farewell tour, but he certainly wasn’t bad. In fact, he was extremely competitive and was in the mix for 21 of his 36 starts. That’s not a bad way to go out.
Of course, Gordon’s career isn’t wrapping up in last year’s finish, as it turns out. He’s back this week to take a stab at earning his sixth Brickyard 400 victory.
That wouldn’t just put Gordon in elite company, either. He is the elite company. Upon his retirement last year, Jeff Gordon exited Nascar as a living legend, and he also left with the most victories (five) at the Brickyard 400.
It’s true that the time away and the #88 car could make Gordon a sudden stranger to the track, but it’s also undeniable that he has a groove at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Is that enough to make him a safe Nascar bet? That alone, perhaps not.
However, this is a track that is near and dear to Gordon, seeing as he won the first ever Brickyard 400 back in 1994. Had he retired in 2014, he could have capped his career in poetic fashion here, but he ran for one more year and experienced an ugly finish, wrapping his career up at the Brickyard 400 in 42nd place.
That was his worst run at the Brickyard 400 since 2010 and just his fifth run ever outside of the top-10 at the historic event.
Suffice to say, Gordon may have redemption on the brain when he takes of the famed #88 car. That could be looked at two-fold, as well, with the Brickyard 400 being a spot where Gordon didn’t finish as he’d hoped and his final season in Nascar also only awarding him one first place finish.
Brickyard 400 Odds
Jeff Gordon has a lot working for him going into the 2016 Brickyard 400. One thing that isn’t going to roll in his favor, of course, are his odds to win, per Vegas.
The upper hand in the early going belongs to the likes of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, who are tied atop the most recent odds (6/1) to win the event.
A slew of elite drivers are ahead of the man Gordon is set to replace – Earnhardt Jr. – who was listed at 18/1 before being ruled out of the Brickyard 400.
Jeff Gordon’s odds to win this weekend’s race haven’t yet been added to the pool, while pole position should also factor into updated odds this week.
That being said, Gordon’s return is more about his big name and hype surrounding a big race, rather than a strong likelihood that he’s going to win.
Instead, the two guys logically that make the most sense could be Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson. Johnson is just behind Gordon with four wins at the Brickyard 400, while Busch won the last race here in 2015 and has enjoyed a stellar 2016 run.
Jeff Gordon Prediction
Just like Jeff Gordon is throwing caution to the wind here and going for it, we’re rolling out a win for the living legend.
Nascar Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip thinks Gordon can win for the very same reasons we do:
Darrell Waltrip weighs in on Jeff Gordon competing again.
— FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX)
The reality is Gordon is not an old man at 44, he hasn’t been away from racing for that long and he’s dominated this event during his illustrious career. It’s obviously possible for a more dialed in drive to take this, but Gordon has gone into this head first and seems genuinely excited to have another crack at a track he’s had a ton of success at.
Even if you don’t want to bet on Gordon to win the whole thing, at least consider him as a top-10 placement. He rode extremely well during 2015 with over 20 top-10 finishes, so it’s fairly logical to assume he’d run well again in his return to the Indy Motor Speedway.
It’s also worth noting he’ll be driving a Chevy car, just like he used to, while 12 of the last 13 winners at this event drove Chevrolet cars.
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