NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
A grueling 500-miler at Darlington saw Brad Keselowski net his first win of the season and punch his ticket into the playoffs. This week, NASCAR's regular season finale will be held at the most famous race track in the country. Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, which is one of the crown jewels on the NASCAR schedule and usually a compelling race.
This week has already had an interesting set of twists. Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. and the 78 crew announced their team was shutting down at the season's end, where he will move over to Joe Gibbs Racing and form what projects to be NASCAR's version of the Golden State Warriors. As if that did not have the garage talking, there has also been no on-track activity yet at the Brickyard this weekend. No practice or qualifying has everyone, including DFS players, searching.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about this track, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on drivers' recent history here and elsewhere, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate.
Kyle Busch ($14,000): In a weekend of unknowns, Kyle Busch is a certainty at this race track. Busch won this race in 2015 and 2016 and was on his way in 2017, leading 87 laps before Martin Truex Jr. took him out on a late-restart crash. Busch never flashed the speed to win last weekend at Darlington, but after winning at Pocono in August, which is the best comparison track to Indianapolis, he certainly should on Sunday. On a track this hard to pass, pit selection can be crucial, and Busch will have a premium spot after being awarded the pole position. Lineup construction in all formats should start with "Wild Thing" as he looks to add another win before the playoffs.
Kevin Harvick ($13,700): After Busch, the rest of the high-priced pool is somewhat ambiguous. Kevin Harvick's record at the Brickyard leads me to start with him, even at the highest price tag. Harvick's 5.75 average finish at Indy indicates his solid consistency, but he has not led a single lap in the last two races. He did lead 75 laps in 2015 but lost out to Busch on a late restart. Harvick is very pricey, but he leads the best of a statistically average week for the top-priced guys with no practice speeds to chew on. Joey Logano ($12,500) saw a massive increase in price for this weekend as a result of his sparkling 4.50 average finish at Indianapolis, but he has led only 44 laps in those races. Other than that, Kyle Larson ($12,800) and Martin Truex Jr. ($12,300) have extremely mixed results at this track and salary may be spent better elsewhere, especially with Truex having to start in the back.
Chase Elliott ($11,200): When qualifying is rained out, NASCAR DFS becomes much more complicated. Instead of evaluating finish potential against starting position, the cars are all relatively starting where they rank comparatively inside the field. In weeks like this, consistency can be key. Chase Elliott is as steady as they come on the NASCAR circuit. Elliott has 14 top-10s, tied for 6th on the circuit, and very rarely makes mistakes inside the race. Chase blew a motor last year in this race and had a pedestrian 15th-place finish in 2016 before then. As mentioned in the driver preview, Chase has 8 top 10s on flat tracks this year, and Indianapolis certainly qualifies. Starting 11th, if Elliott finds the top 10, he will be a solid compliment to Busch or the dominant driver of your choice.
Erik Jones ($10,200): Erik Jones has flashed race-winning speed in each of the last four races, even though he spun out at Michigan and battled back to just 14th place. Jones' only bid at the Brickyard 400 title was a crash last season, but he is starting a comfortable 13th for a car that has been so fast in the previous weeks. What is a comforting fact is that this 20 team was led by Matt Kenseth in previous years, and Kenseth had an average finish of 4.50 in the last four races here. If the team can carry some of those notes forward with them, Jones could even vie for a win on Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,200): It is now or never for the seven-time NASCAR champion. Jimmie Johnson has had a disastrous year with slow cars, mistakes, crashes, and downright bad luck. That has him on the playoff bubble on Sunday, so there is a small chance Johnson misses the postseason entirely if a new winner emerges from Sunday's race. Motivation should be high for Jimmie for that reason, but it might be easy to forget he used to dominate this place. Johnson has four wins here, and if the switch is coming for 48 team, it would probably show signs of life here. Johnson is starting 14th on the grid and will hope to take matters into his own hands to find his playoff spot.
Matt Kenseth ($8,200): As mentioned with Jones, Matt Kenseth has been outstanding with Joe Gibbs Racing over the years. If his price tag makes no sense given his history here, it is because the equipment has changed for the former champ. The reuniting at Roush has been less than stellar as Kenseth has an average finish of 21.20 in his last five races. The good news? Kenseth starts 29th on Sunday, so even matching that average would result in a solid day for the Roush star in your lineup.
Paul Menard ($7,300): Paul Menard shocked the NASCAR world in 2011, breaking through for his first career win at this historic race, and he is extremely cheap at one of his better race tracks despite flashing top-15 speed for a lot of the season. Menard may have been a lot more popular had practice taken place because the #21 should be very fast on Sunday, but since qualifying was also rained out, he will start 19th. Menard needs a win to make the 2018 NASCAR playoffs, and he could not ask for a better track to do so.
William Byron ($7,900): William Byron, a rookie, actually is in the car of the defending race-winning team as this used to be Rich Hendrick Racing's 5 team. Kasey Kahne won this race last year in that car after surviving two late-race restarts on old tires, but Byron is no stranger to victory lane at Indianapolis, either. He won the Xfinity Series race at this track last year en route to his championship that earned him a promotion to the big leagues. Byron is starting 22nd and also needs a win to advance into the playoffs. He has shown great speed at various tracks, many of them flat like his teammate, Chase Elliott. Byron could be a super sleeper on Sunday for a top 5, but from a DFS perspective, he has an extremely high floor and ceiling and could be the cheapest option on a balanced squad led by Kyle Busch in a cash format.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.