Loading scores...
Kevin Harvick
Getty Images
NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Brickyard 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: September 3, 2019, 12:59 pm ET

The long flat tracks could be one of the most predictable track types in the series. There is plenty of time down the long straights of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway to set up for the corners – even in Turns 2 & 4 at Indy with the relatively short chutes. There is only one problem. That which should make this predictable also contributes to the unpredictable nature of the track – and we are talking about the length.

Drivers need to slow for the flat turns much more than on other 2.5+-mile courses like Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. As a result, it takes nearly 50 seconds to get around this track. If a driver is in contact with the leaders at all, pit stops can be made without losing a lap. Strategy for this course is a hybrid, combining aspects of ovals and road courses.

Fuel mileage can play a critical role and teams that intend to use that strategy are already working on it at the shops back home. It is one reason we suggested using up your studs last week. Now that we are into the regular season finale, there is no reason to hold back on any driver available to you. Plan for that which can be predicted or (if you are deep in the points) roll the dice on drivers and teams that typically come out on the winning side of gambits.


Kevin Harvick
Last week Harvick did not dominate at Darlington, but he was among the leaders when it counted and finished fourth. That represented an immediate rebound from his drive train problems at Bristol Motor Speedway and restored his momentum. On the 2.5-mile flat tracks, he has been nearly perfect since Joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Since 2014, he has finished outside the top 10 only three times in 17 races. The vast majority of those were top-fives, but so far, he has yet to win on this track type in the No. 4.

Brad Keselowski
Keselowski may well have the perfect combination of strength and strategy on any given week. He is the defending winner of this race from 2018. He finished second in 2017 after surviving double overtime. He has the speed to win straight up – but Paul Wolfe is also one of the most daring crew chiefs in the garage and is willing to roll the dice when necessary. Keselowski has three wins to his credit and 19 playoff bonus points. His last win came in May at Kansas Speedway, however, and that is too long to be considered positive momentum. Kez and Wolfe hope to change that this week.

Kyle Busch
Busch’s position in the points and on the leaderboard is a double-edged sword. He has a 64-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano and is virtually assured the 15 markers that will go to the regular season leader. Couple with the 30 points already banked, he should be able to waltz his way through the first two rounds of the playoffs. He wants more, however, and the five that go to the race winner could yet be important to making sure he gets through Round 3. More importantly, he wants his fifth win of the season so he can go into the playoffs as the sole leader of that category. Currently Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. have tied him with four.

Denny Hamlin
Hamlin would almost certainly have earned another top-five last week at Darlington if not for an unavoidable accident. Instead, his streak of six consecutive came to a screeching halt. He has been nearly as perfect at Indy. In his last five races there he has four top-fives interrupted by a 17th in 2017. He has not yet won on this 2.5-mile track, but the last time the series was at Pocono, he walked away with a victory on that track. There are a lot of similarities between the two courses. Moreover, Hamlin wants the same thing as his teammate Busch, and that is to end the regular season with the most wins.

Value Pick

Ryan Newman or Clint Bowyer
In NASCAR’s version of musical chairs, there are no more than two seats available in the playoffs – and there may yet be only one if there is a winner from deep in the field. Newman, Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, and Jimmie Johnson each want one of those seats. Newman won the 2013 version of the Brickyard 400 and finished in the top 10 in his last two Brickyard attempts. Bowyer has finished 11th or better in five of his last six attempts on 2.5-mile tracks including a fifth in last year’s edition of this race. We suspect all four of the Bubble Boys will finish in the top 15, but the final two slots will go to these two drivers.

Garage Pick

Ryan Blaney
Because of his consistency, Blaney makes a great pick for the garage. Since joining Team Penske, he has finished between sixth and 12th in five races at Indy and Pocono. He got his first Cup win in 2017 on the Tricky Triangle driving for the Wood Brothers. And he’s been steadily accumulating top-15s all year with 14 coming in his last 18 attempts (a rolling half season). Predicting a win is tricky for the driver of the No. 12, but we are going to be extremely surprised if he finishes worse than 12th.

Red Flag

Kurt Busch
Busch had a car capable of winning last week at Darlington before he was swept up in the same accident that claimed Hamlin. He rebounded to seventh, which was his second consecutive top-10. Unfortunately he does not have a good record of threepeating recently. He has not been able to perform that feat since March when he had a spurt of success in the opening races. Moreover, Busch’s 2.5-mile flat track record is less than stellar. Dating back to an accident at Indy in 2017 that sent him home 29th, he has scored only two top-10s in seven races on 2.5-mile flat tracks. None of these were top-fives.

Stage Wins This Year
Kyle Busch (10), Joey Logano (7), Kevin Harvick, (4), Chase Elliott (4), Brad Keselowski (4), Kyle Larson (4), Martin Truex Jr. (3), Denny Hamlin (3), Kurt Busch (3), Ryan Blaney (2), Austin Dillon (2), Ty Dillon (2), William Byron (1), Aric Almirola (1), Jimmie Johnson (1)

 

Segment wins and points at Indy
(4 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Kyle Busch

26

3

2

Matt Kenseth

20

3

1

Martin Truex Jr.

18

2

 

Joey Logano

17

3

 

Erik Jones

16

3

 

Ryan Blaney

16

2

 

Kurt Busch

15

2

 

Kevin Harvick

13

2

 

Brad Keselowski

11

3

 

Chase Elliott

11

2

 

Denny Hamlin

11

2

 

Clint Bowyer

10

1

1

Kyle Larson

10

2

 

Jamie McMurray

5

2

 

Daniel Suarez

5

1

 

Aric Almirola

4

1

 

Jimmie Johnson

3

2

 

Paul Menard

3

1

 

William Byron

3

1

 

Ryan Newman

2

1

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

1

1

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.