NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 Preview

dave darbySenior Analyst IJuly 25, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - JULY 24:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

What a difference a year makes. Last year at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, NASCAR and Goodyear had one of the biggest debacles ever seen in stock car racing when the race had to be halted every 10 laps because of failing tires.

This year, the drivers are singing the praises of Goodyear like they are in a blimp on a commercial. It appears the tires will be the headline story of the race to begin with and thankfully go away after lap one. However, rain has delayed qualifying and remains a possibility on race day.

ESPN takes over the television drivers seat this week and Jimmie Johnson is the defending champ in the race. Johnson, who won the pole position last year,  beat Carl Edwards by less than a second but not many remember anything but the tire wear issue. It was Johnson's first Brickyard victory. Last year's race featured 11 caution flags lasting 52 laps, but we hope to never see something similar again.

Outside of Daytona, this race is viewed by many drivers as the most important of the year. The long straightaways are met with four different technical turns, which favors experienced drivers.

Lets get to our picks to win on Sunday.

Jeff Gordon—Gordon has won this race four times with his last victory coming in 2004. In the last eight years, Gordon has finished in the top eight seven times, with the only exception being a 16th place finish in 2006. Gordon is coming off a second place finish in Chicago a few weeks ago.

Tony Stewart—No one wants this race each year more than Stewart. With his open wheel history at the track and being from Columbus, Ind., Stewart holds Indianapolis in high reverence. Stewart has two victories here ('07 and '05) and will go all out this year to have an opportunity to kiss the bricks after the checkered flag waves.

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