Bringing it at the Brickyard: Expect ‘A’ game from top teams at Indy

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives down pit road last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Justin Edmonds/NASCAR via Getty Images

So far this year we have seen three organizations — Stewart-Haas Racing,€“ Hendrick Motorsports and now Team Penske — each take turns as basically "King of the Hill" in our sport. Each has seemed to do it for a four- or five-week stretch when their teams looked, if not unbeatable, well then pretty much close to it.

I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it yet. I think we’ll see a lot of back and forth for the remainder of the year. A lot of these teams are starting to put it together. Next weekend when we get back into action, it’s at the Brickyard of all places. That isn’t just any other race. This is a very important race that the teams want to win.

That’s not to diminish places like Loudon or Kentucky Speedway and the others on the schedule. They pay the exact same amount of points as Indianapolis, but it’s the mystic and aura of winning at the famed Brickyard that everyone wants to accomplish.

There’s no denying that the Brickyard 400 is one of the crown jewels of our season. It’s probably only second to the Daytona 500 in importance and grandeur in our sport. The Brickyard race is also where you see teams come out with the best of their second-half-of-the-season stuff. You’ll see maybe a little more horsepower and cars that handle a little better.

Using a baseball analogy, this weekend it’s like the MLB’s All-Star break. Teams get to catch their breath, rejuvenate, reevaluate and get ready for a brutal 17-week stretch run. Guess what? The first stop is probably the second biggest race of our 2014 season.

There is only a short run of seven more races to finish off our regular season and set the 2014 Chase field. Then it’s 10 straight weeks kicking off with 16 cars making a run at the title. After Homestead in November, there will only be one team at the head table in Las Vegas in early December being crowned the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.