NASCAR Picks for Indianapolis
Length: 2.500 miles
Location: Speedway, Indiana
One of the biggest races of the Cup Series season is on tap this weekend as drivers and teams prepare for a trip to the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th running of the Brickyard 400. The race rivals the Daytona 500 in terms of history and prestige, and over the years, some of the best drivers in the sport have gone to victory lane at Indy and kissed the bricks by the start-finish line. In many ways, winning at Indy has been reserved for the sports elite, and only four drivers without a series title have ever won at the Brickyard. Meanwhile, the three active drivers with multiple series titles have combined for 10 wins at Indianapolis.
For fantasy owners, the trend means that including a couple of big names on their rosters this weekend is highly recommended. Whether you have been saving starts from big names in Yahoo! leagues or in survivor-type formats, this could be the week to turn them loose. Yes, a few surprise drivers are bound to finish in or around the top 10, but don't be surprised to see the elite fantasy options dominate the top five.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
While Johnson has actually had his share of bad finishes at Indianapolis, his upside is impossible to ignore. After all, he is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and his four wins at the track are tied for the most all-time. More importantly, all four of those victories have come in the last seven races.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Gordon won the inaugural Cup race at Indianapolis, and he hasn't really slowed down since. His four wins at the track are tied for the most of any driver, and his 8.8 average finish is the second best in the series. In 19 starts at Indy, Gordon has finished outside the top 10 only four times while adding up 11 top-five finishes, including finishes of second and fifth in the last two years.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
The Indiana native has had plenty of success at his home-state track. In addition to his two victories at the Brickyard, Stewart owns a series-leading 8.2 average finish at the track. He has finished in the top 10 in eight of his last nine starts at Indianapolis, and in four starts at the track since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, he has recorded a 6.0 average finish.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He is one of the best in the series when it comes to winning big races, and they don't come much bigger than Indianapolis. Harvick is a former winner at the track, and his 10.3 average finish is the third best among active drivers. He has finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his 12 starts at Indy, including four straight.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In eight starts at Indianapolis, Busch has logged six top-10 finishes and has failed to crack the top 15 only once. His 11.8 average finish at the track is actually the fourth best among active drivers, and that average improves to 6.7 in his last three starts. Busch finished a career-best second at Indianapolis last year, and there is a good chance he will be kissing the bricks this weekend.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Believe it or not, no driver has a longer active streak of top-10 finishes at Indianapolis than Biffle. In fact, he has reeled off five straight finishes of eighth or better at the track, posting a 5.0 average finish during the stretch. Biffle has also finished fourth or better in three of his last four starts at Indy, so he is more than capable of delivering elite results for fantasy owners this weekend.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although he has yet to win at Indianapolis, Kenseth has had some close calls. He has five top-five finishes at the track, including a pair of runner-up efforts. Kenseth has also finished 12th or better in six of his last eight Indy starts on top of the fact that he has been a serious contender at just about every track in 2013 with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Keselowski is still waiting for a breakout performance at Indianapolis, but in the meantime, he has made a solid option. He has compiled a 12.3 average finish in three starts at the track, including back-to-back ninth-place efforts. Look for the defending champ to crack the top 10 this weekend.
Mark Martin, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Victories in big races have eluded Martin throughout his career, and the Brickyard is no exception. That being said, he has been one of the more reliable options at the track despite being winless. Martin has reeled off eight straight finishes of 11th or better at Indy, posting a 7.6 average finish during the stretch.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
In typical Bowyer fashion, he always seems to manage a decent finish when he shows up at Indianapolis. He has a 12.3 average finish in seven starts at the track, and he has never finished outside the top 20. On the flip side, he only has two top-10 finishes at Indy, so he probably isn't going to carry fantasy teams this weekend either.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
After finishing fourth and second in his first two starts at Indianapolis, Kahne has slowed down just a bit. He has managed four top-15s in his last five starts at the track, but his last top-10 came in 2009. While it is tough to consider Kahne an elite option this weekend, he does have a lot of potential given Hendrick Motorsports' history of success at the Brickyard.
Juan Montoya, #42 Target, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His 22.2 average finish at Indianapolis doesn't begin to show Montoya's true value. He finished second in his Cup Series debut at the track, and he had the 2009 race won until speeding on pit road late the event. Montoya is a former Indianapolis 500 winner, and he has been dominant at times at the track in a Cup car. He is definitely guilty of trying too hard to become the first driver to win the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400, but he has as much upside as any sleeper option.