NASCAR returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday for the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard. That's a mouthful to say, which is probably why most folks just call the race "the Brickyard 400."
With only seven races left before the Chase begins, every event is especially crucial for placement in the standings.
Heading into the Brickyard 400, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has a narrow 12-point lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a 36-point edge over Brad Keselowski. Depending on where each man finishes, we could see a new leader in the standings when the race is over.
For NASCAR fans, every race is a must-see from here on out. Here's how you can catch this one.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana
When: Sunday, July 27 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Steam: WatchESPN
Radio: IMS Radio Network
Drivers to Watch
Can Gordon hold off the charge from the likes of Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson? The 12-point lead is the smallest edge he has had since he took over the top spot in June.
Gordon has won four times at IMS, including the inaugural event in 1994. He's also starting second after a good showing in the qualifying run.
A fifth win on the world-famous oval track would likely give him some breathing room in the standings.
This is a big year for Gordon, as his ailing back has questions abut retirement coming his way more frequently. He recently talked about his predicament with ESPN's Ryan McGee, via ABC News:
The race car has really become the most comfortable place for me to be.
It's everyday life where it can get to me now. There are days I can barely pick up my kids. I went camping with Leo [my four-year-old son] a couple of weeks ago and woke up one morning and couldn't stand up. There are certain racetracks that cause it to give me trouble, but the race car is really where I can go now and not hurt.
Because of this dynamic, Gordon needs to take advantage of this opportunity to win another Sprint Cup championship. It could be his last.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Slowly but surely, Earnhardt has pulled into striking distance. His 10th-place finish at the Camping World RV Sales 301 allowed him to gain 15 points on Gordon.
After a one-week break, Earnhardt will have his eyes set on taking over the lead with a similar performance. If Earnhardt's history tells us anything about his prospects of winning Sunday, he may have to wait a week to make his move.
Junior has never won at the Brickyard, and he will start 23rd on the grid after a less-than-stellar qualifying run. If Earnhardt can capture his first win at Indy, it'll be the biggest win of the season for him.
Though he's slipped back to fifth place in the standings, Johnson is still a major threat. He's won the Brickyard 400 four times already in his career.
He sits 72 points behind Gordon in the standings, but with so much success at IMS, he has to feel pretty confident he'll produce a good showing on Sunday.
He owns three wins this season; a fourth would give him the most of any driver. He'll start 11th, but don't be surprised to see him finish first.