The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Speedway, Indiana this week for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400.
If NASCAR had major events like the PGA does for golf, the race this weekend would be considered one of the series major events. The history of racing at the Brickyard goes back over 100 years and any driver who competes on the track would consider it a career milestone to visit Victory Land and kiss the bricks at Indianapolis.
NASCAR has decided to use a new rules package this week. The series hit a homerun with the changes made to the cars at Kentucky and will try to do the same this week. The cars will have an increased spoiler which will cause more downforce on the cars. Speeds for the race Sunday are expected to be 10 mph slower that last season at the track. The slower speeds should make for closer racing Sunday.
Indianapolis is a unique track and its size and banking is different from any track on the circuit. If fantasy teams want to get an idea of who may be fast this weekend, the race at Pocono would be the best comparison. Martin Truex Jr. won the race and he should be fast this week as well.
Here are my picks for the Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis.
Yahoo Group A Picks
This will be a good week to take a chance with some different drivers in Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson have been the popular picks in this group and they should run well Sunday, but this is a good week to save an allocation with the No. 4 and no. 48 cars. There are other drivers in this group who have better stats at Indianapolis than Harvick and Johnson (Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch to name a few).
My sleeper pick in Group A is Ryan Newman. He has been very good at his home track. Newman has the fourth-best driver rating and the fourth-best average finish position in the last two seasons at the Brickyard. He has finished two of the last three races at the track in second place. This would be a great week to use Newman for your team.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
How great of a story would it be to see Gordon win at the Brickyard in his final season in NASCAR? This is a historic track and many great stories have been written here, but a win by Gordon on Sunday would add another chapter to the history book of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gordon should be the driver to beat this week. He has a series-best average finish position and a series-best driver rating in the last two seasons at the Brickyard. Gordon has five wins, including a win in the race last year. He also has finished 12 of the last 14 races in the top 10. Gordon is the safest pick in the field this week.
Busch has been fantastic since returning from his injuries at Daytona. He already has three wins on his 2015 resume, but a trip to Victory Lane at the Brickyard would be the highlight of his season.
Busch has the fifth-best average finish position and the fifth-best driver rating at Indianapolis. He is my selection for Group A because of his recent success and the team he drives for. No driver is hotter than Busch right now and Joe Gibbs Racing has had the fastest cars over the last month. Busch will try to make it three wins in a row Sunday.
Other good choices: Jimmie Johnson,Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman
Yahoo Group B Picks
Most of the drivers who run well at the Brickyard are in Group A this week. That does not mean it will be impossible to find good drivers from this group. Fantasy teams need to consider some of the drivers who they may not have used much this season to fill out their team in Group B. There are many hidden gems in the field Sunday.
My sleeper pick for Group B is Tony Stewart. He is an Indiana native and usually runs well at his home track. Stewart is off to his worst start of his career, but a trip back home may be what he needs to get back on track. Stewart has won this race twice so he knows his way to Victory Lane.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Kahne is the best choice in Group B this week. He has the second-best driver rating and the second-best average finish position in the last two races at the Brickyard. Last year he started 10th and led 70 laps on his way to a sixth-place finish. Kahne will have a good chance to get to Victory Lane for the first time in 2015.
Edwards does not have the best stats at Indianapolis, but he has been running better in the last two races. Edwards usually finishes in the top 15, but he will need a top-10 finish to justify a spot on your team. I think he will get it. Joe Gibbs Racing seems to be the team to beat right now. Edwards could have one of his best runs this week at the Brickyard.
When McMurray wins a race it is usually one of the biggest races on the schedule. He has won the Coca-Cola 600 twice, Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. McMurray is in a good position to make the Chase without a win but a visit to Victory Lane Sunday would make his last nine races much easier for the No. 1 team. Expect McMurray to finish in the top 15 this week.
Finding the last driver for Group B was a tough decision. This is one of Kurt Busch’s worst tracks so I did not want to use an allocation with him. Martin Truex Jr. would have been the pick if I had more than two starts left with the No. 78 team. Kyle Larson has the best stats in Group B at the Brickyard, but he has been terrible this season. I decided to go with Dillon because he has been running well in the recent races.
Dillon has only competed two races in the Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis. He finished 26th in his first race and 10th in the race last season. This track is similar to Pocono and Dillon ran well in that race. He qualified sixth and finished 19th. Expect a top-20 from Dillon Sunday.
Other Good Choices: Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer
Yahoo Group C Picks
Many drivers show up to try and cash in on the large purse for the race at the Brickyard. Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Brian Scott are entered in the race. Each driver will be racing for one of the larger teams in the sport and will have cars that can compete in the race. Each of these drivers should be considered for your team this week.
My sleeper pick in Group C is Brian Scott. He will be driving the No. 33 car for Richard Childress racing. Scott has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis, but he does have three races in the Xfinity Series under his belt. Scott finished two of those three races in the top-seven. He should finish in the top 20 Sunday.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Elliott will be back in the No. 25 car for Hendrick Motorsports this week. He has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis, but he does have one start in the Xfinity Series at the track. Last year Elliott started 12th and finished fifth in the race. He will have a fast car and is worth an allocation in Group C.
Blaney has run well in every race he has made this season. If he could ever avoid having issues with his car he would be the best pick in Group C. I am giving him one more chance this week.
Blaney has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis. He does have one start in the Xfinity Series at the Brickyard. He started 11th and finished 27th, but that was back in 2012. He is a much better driver now. Blaney should finish in the top 20 if he can complete the race without engine failure.
Be sure to check the weather for Indianapolis on Thursday. If there is a good chance of rain, Chase Elliott and Blaney will not make the race. You will want to substitute Danica Patrick and David Ragan in their place.
Other Good Choices: Brian Scott, Danica Patrick and David Ragan
Fantasy Live Picks
The Brickyard is a large track and there will only be 160 laps in the race this week. That means there will only be 80 bonus points available for you Fantasy Live team for leading laps. The best strategy this week will be to select drivers who qualify towards the back of the field with a good chance to make their way through traffic. This strategy will allow your team to score bonus points for finishing differential. These bonus points will be critical in placing your team at the top of your weekly standings.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Indianapolis:
Driver 1: Matt Kenseth $25.75
Driver 2: Kyle Busch $25.25
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $20.25
Driver 4: Austin Dillon $15.25
Driver 5: David Ragan $10.50
Pick to Win: Matt Kenseth
* Driver prices based on prices at Kentucky
Fox Fantasy Racing
The strategy for Fox Fantasy Racing will be the same as Fantasy Live. This game puts an emphasis on drivers who can finish higher than were they started the race. It will be hard to score high if you select all of the drivers who start up front. Fantasy teams will want to select the drivers who start in the back with a good chance of finishing of front. Be sure to check the Happy Hour practice speeds to see which drivers starting in the back have the fast cars.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Indianapolis:
Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $13,400
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth $11,400
Driver 3: Ryan Newman $11,500
Driver 4: Carl Edwards $8,000
Driver 5: Kyle Busch $5,500
* Driver prices based on prices at Kentucky