The NASCAR Cup Series travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week to race on the road course. This will be the fourth race for the Cup Series on a road course (COTA, Sonoma and the Chicago Street Course were the others). There are only three races left in the regular season. The race at the Brickyard should be wild as the teams fight for their playoff spots. The Verizon 200 can be seen Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC (and on the NBC Sports App).
INDIANAPOLIS PRACTICE SPEEDS
The Cup Series had a 20-minute practice session to shake down their cars for Sunday’s race. Indianapolis is a large road course, so the drivers did not have much time to make many long runs. Traffic also comes into play during practice on the road courses too. That makes it tougher to gage which drivers actually had the best cars. We can get a better understanding of the speeds each car has by looking at which cars were fastest in practice and showed up with the same speed in qualifying. The drivers who are at the top of both speed charts are the drivers you will want in your lineup Sunday.
Here are the lap times from the practice Saturday at the Brickyard…
CUP SERIES STATS AT ROAD COURSES
The Cup Series has competed on three road courses races this year, but can we really learn anything from those races. COTA is large track with a lot of elevation. Sonoma also has a lot of elevation, and it is more technical than the Brickyard. The Chicago Street Course was a mess. The race started under wet conditions and this caused some drivers to wreck. The drivers who dominated the race finished in the back because NASCAR decided to shorten the race after they pitted for fuel. So, how do we handicap the race at Indy?
I will use the data from COTA and Sonoma, but the stats from the Chicago Street Course are useless. I will also add in the data from the road course races last year and the two races on the Indy Road Course. This should give us an idea of which drivers are good on the road courses in the Gen-7 car, with an emphasis on the races at the Brickyard.
Here are the average DFS Points from the races on the road courses in 2022 and 2023 (Not including Chicago)
There are only 82 laps in the Verizon 200 Sunday. The trend in the two road course races at the Brickyard is for one driver to lead 34 laps and score 18 fastest laps (16.6 dominator points). Another driver leads 20 laps and scores 10 fastest laps (9.5 dominator points). A third driver leads 18 laps and scores 8 fastest laps (8.1 dominator points). We will likely need the top dominator in our lineup, but it will be more important to focus on finishing position Sunday. My strategy to be to select the driver I think can lead the most laps and pair him with five drivers with a good chance to finish in the top-12. This strategy has worked for me in the past on the road courses and I think it will work again Sunday.
The drivers with the best chance to dominate the race Sunday includes Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Shane van Gisbergen,
The drivers with the best chance to score place differential points include William Byron, AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, Austin Cindric, Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, Jenson Button, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones
DRAFTKINGS MODEL (Prediction Based on Stats)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.
FANDUEL MODEL (Prediction Based on Stats)
CORE DRIVERS FOR INDINAPOLIS
TOP-TIER DRIVERS: TYLER REDDICK (DK $10.3K / FD $13K), SHANE VAN GISBERGEN (DK $10.1K / FD $11K), CHASE ELLIOTT (DK $10K / FD $13.5K), KYLE BUSCH (DK $9.8K / FD $11.5K), KYLE LARSON (DK $12K / FD $11.5K), CHRISTOPHER BELL (DK $9.8K / FDK $12.5K), CHASE ELLIOTT (DK $9.4K / FD $9K), AJ ALLMENDINGER (DK $9.3K / FD $10.5K), CHRIS BUESCHER (DK $9.2K / FD $10K)
VALUE-TIER DRIVERS: WILLIAM BYRON (DK $8.9K / FD $8.2K), DANIEL SUAREZ (DK $8.5K / FD $9K), ROSS CHASTAIN (DK $8.3K / FD $8K), AUSTIN CINDRIC (DK $8.1K / FD $7.2K), MICHAEL MCDOWELL (DK $7.5K / FD $8.5K), TY GIBBS (DK $7.4K / FD $6.8K), KEVIN HARVICK (DK $7.3K / FD $6K), CHASE BRISCOE (DK $6.7K / FD $5.8K), JENSON BUTTON (DK $6.6K / FD $4.8K), ERIK JONES (DK $6.3K / FD $3.5K), AUSTIN DILLON (DK $6.2K / FD $5K)
PUNT PLAYS: TODD GILLILAND (DK $5.9K / FD $3.5K), RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (DK $5.5K / FD $3K), RYAN PREECE (DK $5.4K / FD $4.5K)
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP
TYLER REDDICK ($10,300): Reddick will be my dominator in the Cash Contest lineup. He won this race last year and he has been the best driver on the road courses in the Gen-7 car. Reddick should have a good chance to take the lead from the second-starting position. It will be tough to get the lead from Reddick, once he gets to the front.
AJ ALLMENDINGER ($9,300): Allmendinger is a lock for all Cash Contest lineups from the 26th starting position. He did not like his car in practice, but the No. 16 team should be able to get him fixed up for the race. Allmendinger doesn’t need the best car to finish in the top-five. He just needs it to be half-way decent.
WILLIAM BYRON ($8,900): The No. 24 car failed inspection three times Friday, so Byron has to start last and do a pass-through penalty at the beginning of the race. I am not worried about it. Byron will not go a lap down. Once there is a caution, Byron will be caught up and then he can start passing cars and scoring our lineup a lot of place differential points.
AUSTIN CINDRIC ($8,100): Cindric is a good road course racer and the Brickyard is one of his best tracks. He won an Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis a few years ago. Cindric posted the fifth-fastest speed in his group in practice. He should be able to score some place differential points from the 20th starting position.
KEVIN HARVICK ($7,300): Harvick did not like his car in practice and then he went off the track in qualifying. Now he starts 38th. I do not expect Harvick to finish in the top-10, but he should move up 18-20 spots in the race Sunday. That will make Harvick one of the best picks in the field for $7,300.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. ($5,500): It is no secret that Stenhouse is not the best driver on the road courses. He is having a career year and he is also having his best season on the road courses. Stenhouse finished seventh at COTA and 12th at Sonoma this year. He will be one of the best picks in the field if he can have a race like that Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST
KYLE LARSON ($9,600): Larson is a risky pick, but I feel like gambling this week. When Larson is good at a road course race, he is really good. When he is bad, he is really bad. The No. 5 car has a lot of speed, so I will take a chance with Larson and hope he is holding the Knoxville Nationals trophy tonight and kissing the bricks Sunday.
CHRISTOPHER BELL ($9,400): The No. 20 car has had a lot of speed at all of the road courses, but Bell does not have much to show for it. His car is blazing fast again this week. “If” the No. 20 team can avoid mistakes, Bell should be in Victory Lane Sunday.
DANIEL SUAREZ ($8,500): Suarez has the fastest car in the field. Can he keep it up front? Suarez won the race at Sonoma last year, so he has talent on the road courses. He said he worked with Shane Van Gisbergen in the simulator this week. Whatever SVG taught Suarez, it worked. He is a good pick for $8,500.
AUSTIN CINDRIC ($8,100): Cindric is in my Cash Contest lineup and I will have him in my Tournament Contest lineup too. The Brickyard is owned by Roger Penske. I am sure “The Captain” really wants one of his Fords in Victory Lane Sunday. Cidric is a lot better than his 20th-place starting position.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL ($7,500): McDowell is having a career season and I would love to see him make the playoffs. The No. 34 team has gambled more this season than any other team in the Cup Series. I expect the same Sunday. McDowell will likely use an aggressive strategy to win the race Sunday. McDowell finished eighth at Indianapolis last year. He has the talent to win the race Sunday.
CHASE BRISCOE ($6,700): Having Briscoe as the cheapest driver in my lineup gives me a good chance to have six drivers finish in the top-12 Sunday. This is a home race for Briscoe. He won the Xfinity Series race in 2020 and he nearly won the Cup Series race in 2021 at the Brickyard. This race means a lot to him and Stewart Haas Racing. I will take a chance with Briscoe Sunday.
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
Follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook