The Cup Series will travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week to race on the road course. This is race No. 24 on the Cup Series schedule and that means there are only three races left before the playoffs start. The three regular season races are all “wild card races” (Indy Road Course, Watkins Glen and Daytona). I would not be surprised to see more first time winners added to the playoff field before the end of the regular season. It should be another wild week of racing at the Brickyard. The Verizon 200 can be seen Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and streamed on the NBC Sports App.
STRATEGY FOR INDIANAPOLIS
The race Sunday at Indianapolis is a good race to save allocations. You should have plenty of allocations left with Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell in Group A. This is a good week to use them. Tyler Reddick is good at most tracks, but he is the king of the road courses. You almost have to use an allocation with Reddick Sunday. The rest of Group B gets tricky. Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe and Daniel Suarez are all in play. Kyle Busch is also a great choice, but I think you need to save him for the oval tracks. There are only two drivers to use in Group C. They are AJ Allmendinger and Shane van Gisbergen. Both drivers will have a good chance to win Sunday.
*If your league has not added Shane van Gisbergen yet, you need to contact your commissioner and ask him/her to do so. Copy these instructions to add SVG…
– Go to the ABOUT tab on your league page. Click on LEAGUE RULES. Click on DRIVER GROUPS. You should then see a blue tub that says, UNASSIGNED DRIVER LIST. Click on that and scroll down to Shane van Gisbergen. Click which Group you want to add him to and then go to the bottom of the list and click on ASSIGN DRIVER. SVG should then show up in whatever Group he is assigned to.
Here are the picks for the Verizon 200 …
GROUP A DRIVERS
CHASE ELLIOTT (7): I have plenty of allocations left with Elliott and I plan to use one of them Sunday. Elliott has not been as good in the Gen-7 car on the road courses, as he was in the previous car, but he is still one of the drivers to beat. Elliott has finished six of his last nine road courses races in the top-eight. The No. 9 team needs a win. If Hendrick Motorsports has a chassis they really like on the road course, you can bet that Elliott will be driving it. There is a lot of pressure on Elliott this week, but I think he can handle it.
CHRISTOPHER BELL (6): Bell is no stranger to Victory Lane on the road courses. He won at the Daytona Road Course and the Charlotte Roval. Bell also had one of the best cars at the Brickyard last year. Bell qualified fourth, led 17 laps (second-most in the race), won Stage 2, but a flat tire caused him to finish 12th. Bell is the best driver to pair with Chase Elliott this week.
(OTHER PICK) RYAN BLANEY (7): Blaney is not the first driver that comes to mind when people think of road course racing. He is not very good at the traditional road course tracks (COTA, Sonoma and Watkins Glen), but he is good at the Rovals. Blaney won the inaugural race on the Charlotte Roval and he was good at the Brickyard last year. Blaney led 17 laps (tied with Christopher Bell for the second-most), finished second in Stage one, but was spun out and finished 26th. Blaney would be a good driver to take a chance with if you want to be different from the rest of your league.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Christopher Bell 2) Chase Elliott 3) William Byron 4) Kyle Larson 5) Ryan Blaney 6) Denny Hamlin 7) Ross Chastain 8) Joey Logano
GROUP B DRIVERS
TYLER REDDICK (5): I am in good shape with my allocations with Reddick. I need him at the three road course races (Indy, Watkins Glen and Charlotte Roaval) and the two tracks where he can ride the wall (Darlington and Homestead). Reddick smoked the field in this race last year. He led 38 laps and went to Victory Lane. He won at COTA earlier this season and he was going to win the Chicago Street Course race until NASCAR decided to shorten the race. Reddick should have a great chance to kiss the bricks Sunday.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL (8): 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 pit before the end of Stage 2, so he can start up front in the final Stage. McDowell finished eighth at Indianapolis last year. He will have a good chance to be one of the highest-scoring drivers in the Driver Group Game Sunday.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (8): Cindric has sucked this year, but he has been good on the road courses. Cindric finished sixth at COTA and sixth at the Chicago Street Course this year. He also finished second last year at Indianapolis. The No. 2 team is too far behind to point their way into the playoffs. Cindric will be aggressive Sunday with his strategy to ensure he is up front at the end of the race, with a chance to win at Roger Penske’s track.
CHRIS BUESCHER (7): The cat is out of the bag with Buescher. He used to be one of the better sleeper picks on the road courses, but now everyone knows he is good. Buescher finished 10th and 12th in his two races on the Indy Road Course. He has not been to Victory Lane yet on the road courses, but he has been the most consistent driver in the Cup Series. Buescher finished his last eight road courses races in the top-10. He is one of the safest picks in the field Sunday.
(OTHER PICK) CHASE BRISCOE (8): Briscoe won an Xfinity Series race on the road course at Indianapolis in 2020. It was one of the best Xfinity Series races I have ever seen. He should be good again this week at his home track. Briscoe nearly won this race in 2021, but NASCAR parked him for taking a short cut when he was pushed off the track. I know it is hard to trust Briscoe this year, but he should be a good driver to use to save an allocation with Tyler Reddick.
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Tyler Reddick 2) Michael McDowell 3) Kyle Busch 4) Austin Cindric 5) Martin Truex Jr. 6) Chris Buescher 7) Chase Briscoe 8) Daniel Suarez 9) Kevin Harvick 10) Erik Jones
GROUP C DRIVERS
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN (9): You need to ask your commissioner to add SVG if he is not available in your league. There is no reason for one of the best drivers in the field to be left out of the game. SVG won the street course race at Chicago. Can he do it again at the Brickyard? The tracks are completely different, but SVG has the talent to finish in the top-10, with the upside to win the race Sunday.
AJ ALLMENDINGER (9): Allmendinger needs to be your driver if SVG is not available in your league. Allmendinger won the Cup Series race on the road course at Indy in 2021. He came back last year and finished seventh. The only thing stopping Allmendinger from finishing in the top-10 this week is a mechanical failure in his car. Unfortunately, those issues occur too often with the No. 16 car. Allmendinger is still one of the best picks in Group C Sunday.
(OTHER CHOICE) TODD GILLILAND (9): The choices beyond SVG and AJ Allmendinger are slim this week. Michael McDowell would be a great pick if he is in Group C, but another good pick would be his teammate (Todd Gilliland). Gilliland finished 10th at COTA and 19th at the Chicago Street Course this year. He also finished fourth at the Indy Road Course last year. It will take some guts to pull the trigger with Gilliland as your starter in Group C, but it worked out well last year. Maybe Gilliland will finish in the top-10 again Sunday.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Shane van Grisbergen 2) AJ Allmendinger 3) Ty Gibbs 4) Todd Gilliland 5) Ryan Preece
* Be sure to check back Sunday morning for my starting lineup.
TRUCK SERIES PICKS
XFINITY SERIES PICKS
Good Luck This Weekend!
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