Win the Brickyard and the Sprint Cup Title Is Not Far Away

Dustin ParksAnalyst IJuly 17, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JULY 26:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Top WWE wrestler John Cena often says the phrase "The Champ Is Here!"

Usually at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, that phrase is repeated at Homestead.

In the last decade, one of the sport's premier events has often led to determining who could be the champion at season's end.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the ultimate destination for any racing fan. Whether you cheer stock cars, Indy Cars, F1 or any other genre, mention the name Indy and chills just come over the body.

When NASCAR first came to the sacred track in 1994, it was unsure whether the fans would accept stock car racing at the famed open-wheel facility. Now, not only is it accepted, it's become a track that's been great at predicting champions.

Since 1998, on eight different occasions, the winner of the Brickyard 400 has gone on to win the title.

The trend started when Jeff Gordon won in 1998, and would continue four straight years. Gordon would do it again in 2001, with Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte sandwiched in between.

It would be 2005 when the eventual champion won Indy, and it was Indiana-native Tony Stewart picking up the victory.

The final three times it was completed were by Jimmie Johnson. He did it in 2006, and then back-to-back the last two seasons.

This is where the run to the Chase really begins for the teams.

The Sprint Cup Series is coming off a bye-week, even with some drivers running the Truck or Nationwide Series. For the Sprint Cup teams that are in the Chase, or are just outside, this begins the quest to get into the top-12.

For the teams out front in the points, a win at this track possibly means a title in the near future. For teams like Kevin Harvick, it's a chance to rebound after a horrible night at Chicago. His points lead was cut in half, but he returns to a track he has won at before. With him being in the lead, it's extra incentive to get the job done.

But, look at Gordon, who's still on his quest for a fifth title. He's winless on the season, sometimes playing second-fiddle to Johnson.

Coming to Indy can be the springboard for his title run.

Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch are all right there as well and are legitimate contenders to get a win.

This track has been known for years to bring out the best in the drivers and is one of the biggest races on the season.

And now, it can be the determining factor of who will be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Indy is not one of the Chase races, which is the determining factor of who wins the title. But, it has become a good way to predict who will win the championship, and who will be strong in the actual Chase itself.

Who says this year won't be any different?