Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4th weekend means we’re going to be having some awesome patriotic paint schemes, and in case you haven’t seen it, Kevin Harvick’s Busch Light Ford is probably the best. Indy will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first track that I had a significant win in DraftKings, back in 2016 when I really had no idea what I was doing but I played $110 worth of lineups and won $2,156. But enough about that, let’s get to this race.
The Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Presented by Big Machine Records is this Sunday, meaning it’s a 160-lap race around this 2.5-mile flat track. Indianapolis is similar to Pocono, where we were last weekend, in regards to the fact that fuel mileage and strategy will more than likely come into play, and unless something crazy happens (see the 2017 race here as an example), we more than likely know who will finish up front.
Speaking of which, when you’re looking at track history here, just completely throw that 2017 race out. First, the best cars that day (Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr.) wrecked each other out, and then chaos ensued later, with over half the field wrecking out and NASCAR eventually declaring Kasey Kahne the winner. They should’ve had one more restart in that race, but it was too dark so NASCAR said Kahne made it past the line to make the race official, even though he didn’t.
Anyway… let’s get to this driver-by-driver breakdown. There are what I think of each driver and I will be constructing my lineups using this information as well as my projections for the race.
CLICK HERE to see my projected DraftKings points scored for each driver for Sunday’s race.
Driver-by-Driver Breakdown for the Indianapolis Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at The Brickyard Presented by Big Machine Records
- Joey Logano ($9,200)
– This is the first time Logano is starting from the pole this season, and despite that he’s led in all races except 3 thus far. A lot of people are probably struggling between Logano at $9,200 and Bowyer at $9,000 due to the place differential, but I see the ceiling for Bowyer at 7th and with place differential you’re looking at 52 FPTS. Let’s say Logano comes home 5th on Sunday–his average finish is 5.5 over the last six Indy races, by the way–that’s 34 base FPTS, so he needs to make up 18 with dominator points. If Logano leads for 32 laps and has 10 fastest laps he’s there. Bowyer is the safer play in cash lineups, obviously, but I still think Logano will be one of the highest scoring drivers on the slate, and if I go down with a Penske driver on the pole at Indianapolis, then so be it.
- Kurt Busch ($7,500)
– Kurt put up 35 laps led and 9 fastest laps in Sunday’s race at Pocono, but that’s because he was on the front row with Austin Dillon. It’s hard to see the #1 Chevrolet being faster than Logano’s #22 Ford out of the gate. Here at Indy, Kurt has a 19.4 career average finish and just two top 10s in the last 15 races. If you’re entering 150 lineups, I’d keep Kurt around 5% exposure or less and definitely without Logano in the lineup.
- Alex Bowman ($8,000)
– There’s no doubt that the #88 Chevrolet has been fast at the high horsepower tracks in 2020, and if he can get around Logano earlier, that raw horsepower could keep Alex out front for a while. Bowman’s track history here at Indianapolis is awful but it’s worth noting that Bowman has led significant laps in races that he’s started top 3 this season (Darlington led 41, Charlotte led 51, Fontana led 110). I honestly like being overweight on Bowman this weekend, and it’s worth throwing him into a lineup in a Single Entry contest.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,500)Justin Allgaier ($6,600)
Honestly, I probably won’t have any Johnson exposure. If I do, it’ll be just a few lineups. I don’t think the price tag is worth it with his limited dominator potential and starting up so high.Jimmie Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 and will not race on Sunday. Justin Allgaier will be in the #48 Chevrolet and he will have to start in the rear but will be scored from 4th. Do not pick him. Full fade. I’d be surprised if he scores positive points.
- Aric Almirola ($7,400)
– I’d take a chance with Almirola if he was priced about $1,000 less, but, again, the price tag isn’t worth it. I do like taking AA in leagues that don’t take place differential into account, but he’ll probably be a full fade for me in DraftKings.
- Denny Hamlin ($10,100)
– My 2nd-highest projected driver this week and a steal at $10,100. I could see Hamlin being one of the top 3 or 4 highest-owned drivers on this slate. The contrarian in my likes being underweight on him but I’ll still have significant exposure. The guy has been a rockstar since NASCAR came back from the COVID break and hasn’t finished worse than 4th since Martinsville nearly a month ago.
- Kyle Busch ($10,400)
– Kyle Busch is a great pick this weekend, both as a pivot off of Hamlin as well as in combination with him. It was clear last week at Pocono that the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas still have their slight speed advantage, and that should happen this weekend at Indianapolis as well. Rowdy has finished 1st or 2nd in four of the last eight Brickyard races.
- Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,600)
– This #19 team hasn’t quite had the speed since their Martinsville win, and Indianapolis hasn’t been a good track for Truex over his career (just three top 10s and only one top 5 in 15 total starts). I’ll likely end up with around 10% Truex exposure on Sunday.
- Brad Keselowski ($9,800)
– Kez was one of my GPP plays in my Projections article and that still remains. I love being overweight on the #2 Ford this weekend. You can read why in that article (click here).
- Chase Elliott ($10,700)
– I understand why Chase Elliott could be a sneaky GPP play here to be overweight on, but to me it’s going to take a very specific unraveling of the race, and that’s Logano or someone cheaper leading for half the race or more. I just don’t see that happening, and I don’t see Elliott dominating either, which means a top 5 finish isn’t worth it with his price tag. Elliott could be a pivot off of Harvick for some people, but it’s going to take something mechanical or crazy for Harvick to not have a great day on Sunday. I honestly won’t have much Elliott this weekend, at least in DraftKings.
- Kevin Harvick ($11,000)
– My highest projected driver this week, the defending winner of this race, and coming off of awesome performances at Pocono. Oh, and he starts outside of the top 10. Even with the $11,000 price tag, Harvick is the top play on this slate in my book.
- Ryan Blaney ($9,400)
– Blaney had a rough couple of races at Pocono but he could very well end up being one of the highest-scoring drivers on this slate this Sunday. Penske is strong here and Blaney finished a career-best 7th in last year’s Brickyard race. I also like how the #12 Ford had the 5th-most fastest laps in the two Pocono races. My projections love Blaney, too, as he’s 4th-highest in terms of DraftKings FPTS projected. I’ll likely have around 30% Blaney in my lineups on Sunday.
- Tyler Reddick ($7,700)
– This team is coming back down to Earth a bit. Aside from Reddick’s 4th-place finish at Homestead, Reddick hasn’t finished better than 14th in the last eight Cup Series races, and he’s ended up 20th or worse four times during that span. I will definitely have less than 10% Reddick on Sunday.
- Ryan Newman ($5,900)
– Another one of my favorite GPP plays this weekend. Click here to read why.
- Matt DiBenedetto ($8,300)
– I like rolling with DiBenedetto in some lineups this weekend, but don’t love it, if that makes sense. He’s starting from 15th, so in order for that $8,300 price tag to be worth it, he’s going to need a top 10 finish. He did come home 6th at Pocono last Sunday, and the same result here would result in 47 FPTS on Sunday. He’s definitely an alternate consideration pivot off of Byron and Jones but I’ll still probably only have like 10% DiBenedetto exposure.
- Austin Dillon ($6,700)
– There’s some optimism with Austin Dillon this weekend, as he’s finished 12th or better in three of his seven career starts here at Indianapolis. His $6,700 price tag is workable too, and he should be lower owned thanks to the 18th-place starting spot. What I don’t like is how he has an average rank of 18th in Green Flag Speed on flat tracks this season. I like too many other drivers ahead of Austin in this price range to have much #3 exposure on Sunday.
- Bubba Wallace ($7,000)
– I love the dark horse aspect of Bubba Wallace this weekend, but hate the $7,000 price tag with the 17th-place starting spot. Bubba ran 3rd at Indianapolis last season but I’d be surprised if he cracked the top 10 on Sunday. A mid-teens finish isn’t worth the $7,000 price tag.
- William Byron ($8,700)
– I like William Byron this weekend but he’s going to need a great run on Sunday for this price tag to pay off. Momentum-wise, he has four top 10s in the last seven Cup Series races, and only one result worse than 14th in the last eight. Here at Indianapolis, Byron finished 19th in his first attempt and then 4th last year. I think Byron has top 10 potential on Sunday but I’m not sure he gets in the optimal lineup without posting a top 5.
- John Hunter Nemechek ($5,400)
– As usual, John Hunter Nemechek will be very low owned in contests this weekend, and being overweight is a strategy to consider. He ran 19th and 24th in the two Pocono races, and I’d expect similar out of John Hunter here at Indy on Sunday. A top 15 finish out of him would be necessary for the Nemechek overweight strategy to have a chance of paying off, in my opinion. Not sure that happens.
- Chris Buescher ($6,500)
– One of my favorite plays on the slate, and the reasoning is in my Projections article. Click here to read that.
- Matt Kenseth ($7,900)
– Matt Kenseth should have your attention after his 11th- and 12th-place finishes at Pocono last weekend. Here at Indianapolis, he’s finished 12th or better in nine of his last ten starts. He’s definitely a pivot option off of Erik Jones. I don’t mind having around 15% Kenseth exposure.
- Clint Bowyer ($9,000)
– If you skipped my Logano analysis, go up and read it because I touched on Bowyer a lot there as well. Clint needs to finish 8th on Sunday to score 50 DraftKings FPTS. He definitely has a shot at doing so, but it’s not guaranteed by any means. Personally I don’t like the price tag here and I’ll likely be underweight on Bowyer this Sunday.
- Erik Jones ($8,100)
– It’s all going to come down to whether or not Jones has a clean race on Sunday. If you’ve been following DraftKings NASCAR at all this season, you know the upside and you know the downside with him. He’s finished 2nd here before but also has two results outside of the top 30. If he stays clean, this is a top 10 car with top 5 potential. If you don’t trust him, here’s an interesting stat for you to ease your mind: Jones hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 in any race that he’s started 20th or worse this season.
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,200)
– My projections aren’t good for Stenhouse this weekend, but there’s potential there. Ricky has finished 31st or worse in four of the last five Indianapolis races, and with his price tag being $7,200, that should keep his ownership down, but he did wind up 12th here in 2016 and he ran 17th and 15th in the two Pocono races last weekend. I don’t like going crazy with Stenhouse on Sunday but 10-15% exposure isn’t a bad idea.
- Joey Gase ($4,500)
– Full fade. A good race would be only losing 8 spots by the end. This isn’t the race to use duds.
- Brennan Poole ($4,600)
– Full fade.
- Michael McDowell ($5,700)
– I’ve liked Michael McDowell in most races this season, and this one is no different. But with his 8th-place finish at Pocono in people’s recent memory, as well as his finishes of 17th, 17th, and 18th in the last three Indianapolis, there’s a decent chance that McDowell goes as the highest-owned driver on this slate. The contrarian in me likes being underweight on him and spreading out the ownerships of him, Preece, and LaJoie.
- Garrett Smithley ($4,700)
– Full fade.
- Ty Dillon ($6,800)
– I’ll likely have 10-15% Ty Dillon exposure on Sunday, maybe less. He’s never finished worse than 21st in three career Indianapolis starts but this #13 Chevrolet just isn’t performing as well in 2020 as it did in 2019; in fact, the #13 Chevrolet is averaging three spots worse per race this season than it did last year. Ty hasn’t had a top 20 finish outside of Talladega since Darlington back in May.
- Cole Custer ($6,300)
– Cole Custer is under-priced, but there’s nothing we can do about that. He’s in a Stewart-Haas car and should finish at least 20th, if not better. He ran 16th and 17th in the two Pocono races last weekend. Definitely in play for cash lineups and I’ll likely have around 20% exposure for large GPPs.
- Corey LaJoie ($5,500)
– Aside from Michael McDowell, Corey LaJoie has been my favorite “cheap” option in DraftKings this year, and that’s the case again this weekend. Corey has finished 23rd or better in four of the last five Cup Series races overall and he ended up finishing 19th here ta Indianapolis last season. He was 23rd and 21st in the two Pocono races last weekend. The projections are low on LaJoie this week but he’s a great low-dollar option to help afford the pricy heavy hitters.
- Ross Chastain ($6,400)
– Full fade. I think DraftKings priced Chastain based on his Coca-Cola finish in this #77 car (he was 22nd) but don’t forget that was basically an RCR car that race. Chastain won’t have that support this weekend.
- Quin Houff ($4,800)
– Full fade. The only way he moves up is if there’s a bunch of wrecks.
- JJ Yeley ($4,900)
– Full fade.
- Christopher Bell ($11,500)
– I can put together only a handful of decent lineups with Bell/Harvick/Hamlin all in them, so if you’re going to go heavy on the #95 Toyota this Sunday, you’re likely going to be underweight on one of those heavy hitters. Bell is going to need a top 10 finish for this price tag to pay off, but we’ve seen him do that in two of his last three races starting back here. I’ll probably stay about even with the field in terms of ownership with him.
- Ryan Preece ($5,800)
– This price just makes no sense. Preece should finish between 20th and 25th on Sunday, if not a little better. You can try and play strategy by pivoting to someone like Newman or McDowell or LaJoie but Preece is a very safe option and should put up a good score for his price.
- Daniel Suarez ($6,100)
– Extremely minimal ownership. His price is decent but it’s going to take Custer, Preece, LaJoie, and McDowell to all have issues for Suarez to be the best in this price range. That isn’t likely.
- Timmy Hill ($5,300)
– Full fade.
- Josh Bilicki ($5,100)
– Full fade.
- BJ McLeod ($5,000)
– Full fade. This is basically a start and park car that only moves up with major attrition (see Bristol).