How does that saying go? “The more things change, the more they stay the same?” The NASCAR Cup Series is off to a new track this weekend (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) on a new network (NBC) but once again it’s a 2.5-mile, flat venue with the same favorites as last weekend.
In other words, if you didn’t enjoy the racing and strategy involved with last weekend’s races at Pocono, you might want to set your expectations for Sunday pretty low. Not to mention we now have Rick Allen controlling the broadcast, and well… if you know, you know. I call him Rock Allen for a reason–and I’m not referring to one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Speak of Mr. Allen, though, I’m giving away $50 to the person that can correctly guess the lap number that he makes a certain statement (click here for that, and follow me if you don’t already).
Joey Logano will lead the field to the green for this weekend’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Presented by Big Machine Records. Yes, that’s the actual title of the race, and it’s actually shorter than originally planned because it was going to be “…400 at The Brickyard Presented by Florida Georgia Line.” Anyway, click here to see the starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Indianapolis.
NOTE: Jimmie Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 and will not race this weekend. Do not pick him. Justin Allgaier is taking his place, don’t pick him either. He will be scored from the 4th starting spot.
Speed Report in 2020 After Pocono Double-Header
Kyle Busch got his second Green Flag Speed “win” of the weekend at Pocono last Sunday, but that one deserves an asterisk since he wrecked out. Not completing all of the laps gives a fast car an advantage in a statistic like that. Denny Hamlin was technically 2nd in Green Flag Speed in that race, but I’d give him the win. Hamlin was also 2nd in the first Pocono race on Saturday.
Looking at the last six races, here are the fastest drivers in terms of Green Flag Speed:
- Kevin Harvick & Ryan Blaney (5.5 average rank)
- ***tie for 1st***
- Kyle Busch (6.7 average rank)
- Denny Hamlin (7.3 average rank)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (7.7 average rank)
You can click here to check out the updated Cheat Sheet on Green Flag Speed and see how every driver ranks in that category plus more, not only for the last six races but for the whole season.
Let’s also take a look at the drivers who had the most fastest laps during the two Pocono races last weekend. Here are the list of drivers with their average number of fastest laps per race over the two events:
- Denny Hamlin (20.5 fastest laps per race)
- Kevin Harvick (17.0 fastest laps per race)
- Aric Almirola (13.0 fastest laps per race) — all 26 came in Saturday’s race
- Brad Keselowski (13.0 fastest laps per race)
- Ryan Blaney (11.0 fastest laps per race)
- Kyle Busch (7.0 fastest laps per race)
- Joey Logano (5.5 fastest laps per race) — all 11 came in Saturday’s race
- Kurt Busch (4.5 fastest laps per race) — all 9 came in Sunday’s race
Now let’s look at the last six Indianapolis races. The drivers with the most fastest laps are:
- Kyle Busch (26.0 fastest laps per race)
- Kevin Harvick (18.8 fastest laps per race)
- Denny Hamlin (7.2 fastest laps per race)
- Matt Kenseth (6.8 fastest laps per race)
- Kurt Busch (5.8 fastest laps per race)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (5.8 fastest laps per race)
- Ryan Blaney (4.2 fastest laps per race)
Everyone else has 3 or less fastest laps per race, including (somewhat surprisingly) the Penske teammates of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, even though they’re always top 5 threats here. But you can definitely see the similarities here between Pocono and Indianapolis.
DraftKings Strategy for Indianapolis
We’re basically using the same strategy from Pocono for this weekend’s race at Indianapolis. And, to be more specific, Saturday’s strategy, not Sunday’s–although I was glad my “5 studs and 1 dud” strategy for Sunday worked out and I finally had a very profitable day at Pocono. Also, thank you Quin Houff for running a clean race, I owe you a beer.
Anyway, back to Indianapolis. There are only 160 laps scheduled for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400, which means finishing position and place differential is a little more important this week than normal. At Pocono we saw the guys starting up front (Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch) put up significant dominator points, and Almirola ended up in the optimal lineup Saturday.
We have Joey Logano ($9,200) on the pole for this Sunday’s race, and I expect track position to be important here just as it was at Pocono last weekend. Joey has never won at Indianapolis in 11 career attempts, but he has the 2nd-best average finish among active drivers here (10.9) and he has 2nd-place finishes to his credit here, both last year and in 2015. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the top 5 getting any significant dominator points, and with how Almirola and Kurt Busch looked at Pocono starting from the front row, Logano is going to garner a good chunk of ownership. This gives you the opportunity to go underweight on him or avoid him in Single Entry contests, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that Penske Ford led a good portion of this race on Sunday.
Cash Lineup Plays
DraftKings finally gave Erik Jones ($8,100) a respectable salary this week–his highest since the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte–but he’s still looking like a chalk cash game play. He pulled the 23rd starting spot for Sunday’s race at a track where, one, Joe Gibbs Racing has excelled at, and two, he finished 2nd at in 2018. We shouldn’t see any crazy-high ownership of Jones this weekend (I think he will be under 40%) but he’ll still be a popular play. Add in Ryan Preece ($5,800) and Michael McDowell ($5,700) and you have a solid base for a cash lineup with $30,400 left to fill the rest of your lineup with. By the way, Preece finished 16th here last season while McDowell has finished 17th, 17th, and 18th in his last three Indianapolis attempts. They started 36th and 27th, respectively.
GPP / Tournament Plays I Love for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at The Brickyard
NOTE: I like a couple of other pivots in large tournaments in addition the three guys below. You can read by full field, driver-by-driver breakdown for this race by clicking here.
Brad Keselowski ($9,800) – Don’t forget: Brad Keselowski had one of the fastest cars at the end of Saturday’s race at Pocono last weekend, and then in the Sunday event he probably would’ve finished top 3 if his team would’ve gotten the fuel tank full on his final pit stop. In addition to that, Brad has a win here at The Brickyard in 2018 and a 2nd-place finish in the 2017 race. I don’t love Keselowski as a pivot off of Hamlin but you can fit them both in a lineup (and you could possibly squeeze in Harvick there as well).
Chris Buescher ($6,500) – This probably isn’t a super sneaky play considering Buescher just ran 10th in the first Pocono race, but nonetheless he’s a guy I like being overweight on in GPPs this Sunday because of his price. The #17 Ford will roll off the grid from 20th for the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 but I’m expecting a teens finish out of Buescher when the checkered flag waves. He’s made four career starts here at Indianapolis and has posted three top 15 finishes, and over the last five Cup Series races he has ended up 13th or better three times.
Ryan Newman ($5,900) – Outside of Daytona and Talladega, it’s not very often you get a sub-$6,000 driver with top 10 potential, but here we are with The Rocketman. Indianapolis is his home race track, and right now Newman is on a three-race streak of top 10 finishes at The Brickyard. He’s also finished 12th or better in eight of his nine starts here. Now, Newman does start up in 14th, but that along with the fact that he’s got Ryan Preece ($5,800) priced right below him should keep The Rocketman’s ownership relatively low, making him a great driver for Single Entry contents and one to be overweight on in big GPPs.
Indianapolis DraftKings Projections
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. Also included are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||8||$9,600||48.0||05.4||9||9||$200|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||24||$7,200||18.4||24.8||0||0||$391|
|John H. Nemechek||19||$5,400||15.8||23.6||0||0||$342|