The only thing longer than the amount of time we’ll have to wait for this year’s Indianapolis race is the title of the event itself: the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line. Rain washed out both practice sessions as well as qualifying on Saturday, which means the starting lineup for the season finale race was set by owners points and Kyle Busch is on the pole for the third straight year. Currently, the BMV400ATBPBFGL is scheduled to go green at 1pm ET on Sunday, but there’s plenty of rain in the forecast that it looks like it’ll be a Monday race. Be sure to pay attention to the weather on Sunday, and if you’re looking for a good weather follow on Twitter, @NASCAR_WXMAN is my personal favorite.
NOTE: Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,100) and Daniel Suarez ($7,500) will drop to the rear at the start of the race due to failing inspection. However, they will still be scored from their original starting positions in DraftKings (3rd for Truex, 20th for Suarez). I’d recommend 100% fading Truex but I don’t have a problem with some Suarez exposure.
Indianapolis is a massive 2.5-mile flat track that is a rectangular oval. If the race goes the full distance on Sunday/Monday, we’re scheduled to go 160 laps around here, which equals just 40 DraftKings FPTS for laps led. Typically we have around 110 green flag laps here, giving us around a total of 55 DraftKings FPTS for fastest laps. As far as dominators go, we usually only have one here at Indy, maybe two. Last year this race turned into a wreck-fest, but up until everything went to shit, Kyle Busch had 40 fastest laps and Martin Truex, Jr. had 16. Those two were the class of the field in that race and would have put up even more if they didn’t wreck each other.
It’s hard to pass at Indianapolis, and that’s a major reason why we typically only see one or two dominators. Of course, without any practice or qualifying this weekend, we’re all kind of going into this year’s Brickyard blind, but there are definitely some comparative stats that you can study before finalizing your lineups. Personally, I’ll be looking at recent Indianapolis races as well as Pocono races, as that’s another large flat track that is somewhat similar to Indianapolis.
When it comes to roster construction, I’ll be focusing on one dominator and then filling out the rest of the lineup with drivers that have top 5 finishing and/or place differential potential.
GPP Drivers I Love For The Indy Brickyard 400
Kevin Harvick ($12,200) – For the record, I love Kyle Busch (11,700) this weekend, and he’s going to be on a ton of my lineups. With that being said, from a strategy standpoint, it’s worth having decent Harvick exposure on Sunday. Yes, you’re going to be paying more for him, but it’s no guarantee that the #18 Toyota is the dominator of this race. Looking at the last three Indianapolis races plus this year’s two Pocono races, Rowdy has taken 29.3% of the fastest laps, but Kevin Harvick has had a fair share, too, with 17.9%. Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,100) is third in that category with 11.6%. As far as laps led, Busch leads the way there again with 37.5% while Harvick is at 22.8%. In other words, these two should be the dominators this weekend–big surprise, huh? The reason I like the #4 Ford as a GPP play is he should be the lone dominator if Kyle Busch has problems in the race. Like I said, I’ll have a lot of Rowdy exposure this weekend, but Harvick is definitely my backup plan. He has four straight top 10 finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a career average finish of 9.7.
Brad Keselowski ($9,800) – Yes, I know I often preach about staying away from the most recent winner because the public tends to go heavy on him the next week, but since Keselowski didn’t dominate at Darlington, I’m actually not too concerned about that. Also, he’s going to start from 6th here at Indianapolis, and that should keep some people away, too. Overall, though, I do like BK as a Fantasy NASCAR play here at Indianapolis. The guy just has a knack for getting to the front here, and has led 15+ laps in each of the last three Brickyard 400s. Additionally, Keselowski has led 15+ laps in five of his eight starts here. I like those odds. Looking at the last three Indianapolis races plus the this year’s two Pocono races, Keselowski has grabbed 6.5% of the fastest laps (4th-best) and 7.7% of the laps led (3rd-best). Penske runs really well here and I expect all three of those cars to challenge for a top 5 whenever this race happens.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,200) – This is the final week of the regular season, so that’s something to keep in the back of your mind heading into the 2018 Brickyard 400. With that being said, it’s going to take something catastrophic for Jimmie Johnson not to make the Playoffs. Not only will it take him losing 19 points to teammate Alex Bowman, but it will also take a new winner for the season that’s behind Johnson in points. Probably not going to happen. Anyway, looking at JJ, I like him for Indianapolis for a couple of reasons. First, you have Joey Logano ($8,600) sitting there, wildly under-priced for this track, along with Erik Jones ($8,400) right there in Jimmie’s price range. As you can see from my projections, I really like Jones this week and also like Logano, so from a GPP standpoint I love Johnson as a pivot. Jimmie has won here at Indianapolis four times in his career and the Hendrick Chevrolets have been more impressive as of late as well. Additionally, Jimmie came home 8th in the June Pocono race this year and then finished 17th in the July event after starting back in 35th.
Paul Menard ($6,700) – It’s going to be easy to throw Matt Kenseth ($7,000) into your lineup as a place differential play, but don’t forget about Paul Menard sitting there at $6,700. Indy is the site of Paul’s lone Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, and while that victory came because of a fuel mileage gamble, this is still one of his best tracks. In fact, over the last eight races here, Menard has just one finish worse than 16th, and he has wound up 12th or better in three of the seven. The #21 Ford will roll off the grid from 19th when the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard goes green, but Menard should be at least a top 15 car by the end of it. Don’t forget, Paul showed really good speed in both Pocono races this year, and even finished 11th in the June event.
Driver Point Projections for Indianapolis
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems, using both mathematical equations as well as personal rankings. This chart also includes the average projected base + laps led + fastest laps DraftKings FPTS as well as the dollar per FPT. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$10,100||36.5||3||06.0||0||3||$277|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$7,300||18.4||16||20.8||0||0||$397|