This weekend, The Monster Energy Series makes its way to the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for The Brickyard 400. Like much of the season to date, this package is going to add a new unknown for The Brickyard this year. Luckily, we can glean some data from 2 races at a similar track on the circuit, Pocono. If those races taught us anything, it’s that track position and strategy is gonna rule the day. The track is big enough that drivers will be able to pit without losing a lap, which would put chunks of the field on different strategies throughout the race. This dynamic is gonna make it hard for any one driver to rack up a ton of laps led this week, especially with only 160 laps on the slate. I expect to see only one dominator, leading around 80 laps. My lineup construction will consist of 1 dominator, and the rest with guys who offer plenty of PD upside! This weekend, drivers won’t be qualifying for Sunday’s race until 10:35 AM the morning of. With that, I am using a projected starting position to help determine my top plays. I am giving you my projected starting position so you can compare with where they actually qualify. I encourage you to follow me on twitter, @DFSNascar, to get my updated rankings after qualifying!l Sunday morning!
Top Tier Plays
1) Kyle Busch $12000 Proj SP: 11 – It’s hard to believe that Kyle hasn’t won a Cup race since the first Pocono race this season. But now, he comes to the very similar Brickyard, with a car that was 2nd fastest in final practice. Kyle led 79 laps in that victory, and backed it up with a Top 10 and 56 laps led in the 2nd Pocono race. Fast car and fresh off an Xfinity Brickyard win the day before, Kyle is my favorite to win today! If he qualifies around 10th, add a touch of PD value, to what could be a win with 80 laps led upside!
2) Brad Keselowski $9800 Proj SP: 9 – BK comes into this weekend fresh off back to back Top 5 finishes. He carries that momentum into a race he won last year, and finished 2nd in the year prior. He had the 4th fastest 5 lap average in final practice. This 2 team may not lead a ton of laps, but they seem to always know what moves to make when we have a race that strategy comes in to play. Should have some slight PD upside, considering he was only 13th fastest in fast lap speeds on Saturday.
3) Kyle Larson $10300 Proj SP: 15 – Larson is another driver who has a ton of momentum. Kyle has 4 straight Top 6 finishes, one of which was a 5th at Pocono. Kyle looked to be working on race trim in final practice, where he was 7th in 5 lap average. With that, I don’t project him to qualify well and believe he is gonna be a great PD play this week! Even without the PD, I still give Larson the upside of a potential win, leading around 40 laps.
4) Eric Jones $9400 Proj SP: 7 – A week after his big win in The Southern 500, Jones shows up with another fast car! Jones has seen a lot of success on these big flat tracks. He has 3 straight Top three finishes at the last 3 combined races at Pocono and the Brickyard. Jones has a car capable of starting on the front row. If this happens then I like him to lead some laps to start. It’s hard to imagine him going back to back here, but Top 3 upside with leading some laps would be great at this price tag.
Mid Tier Plays
5) William Byron $7800 Proj SP: 14 – Byron was very good at the two stops at Pocono with this package this season, finishing 9th and 4th, while leading 25 laps. His team has shown speed again this week putting up the 3rd fastest 5 lap average in final practice. Byron didn’t appear to have single lap speed, which could mean a mid pack starting position. If that happens, you gotta like Byron bringing PD points with potential Top 5 Upside.
6) Clint Bowyer $8300 Proj SP: 16 – Bowyer has answered the call as of late in his attempt to make the playoffs. He has put together back to back top 10 finishes. Now, Bowyer gets to return to a race that saw him finish 5th last year. Add a 5th this season at Pocono, then it’s easy to see he has Top 5 potential this week. Bowyer was 11th in 5 lap averages in the final practice, but was only 23rd fastest in single lap. This could be a recipe for a great PD day for Bowyer if he qualifies below 15th.
7) Ryan Newman$8200 Proj SP: 19 – Newman is another driver fighting it out for a playoff spot. Like normal, Newman has not shown a ton of speed off the truck. But this team has done a great job in the past of getting that car better through the race. Newman has an average PD of +5 the last 4 races with an average finish of 15th. Newman finished 10th at this race last year. Love him at this price to start around 25th and finish around P15, with Top 10 potential!
8) Chris Buescher $7100 Proj SP: 18 – DK has been sleeping on our boy Buescher for a while now, even dropped his price -$200 this week. Buescher has averaged a PD of +10 positions in the last four races. Not to mention an average of +14.5 at the 2 Pocono races this season. If he starts anything further back than P20 then he’s a lock. I still like him a ton in GPP if he qualifies inside the Top 15. A 12th last week at Darlington and a 9th here at the Brickyard in 17’, shows what his upside could be!
Low Tier Plays
9) Daniel Hemric $6200 Proj SP: 17 – For all the struggles Hemric has had in his rookie season, he looks to be making some steps in the right direction. He had a 12th place finish 2 weeks ago at Bristol. Although he hasn’t raced at the Brickyard in a Cup car, he does have a 13th and 7th place finish this season at the two Pocono stops. Really love him if he qualifies lower than 20th, but I still like him as a GPP play if he starts around 10th or so, but not much higher.
10) Ty Dillon $6400 Proj SP: 27 – Dillon should be in line for another solid PD day his week, Dillon was only 29th fastest in single lap speed, but was 22nd fastest in 5 lap. 20 is the magic number for Dillon. His avg finish over the last 4 races? 20th Avg finish at the last two Brickyards? 20th. I did put his cieling slightly higher than 20th, which could mean a great cheap PD play if he hits his cieling!
11) Ross Chastain $5500 Proj SP: 34 – Ross is my favorite deep punt this week. Ross starts from the back every week, and I expect this week to be more of the same. Aside from starting from the back, the watermelon man has become very adapt to keeping his car clean and staying out of trouble. I look for him to pick up a +7 PD from just passing guys who have trouble. He does have a track record, with a 24th place finish at Pocono earlier this season. ..
Thanks for reading! These are just the plays that screamed out to me, check my sheet below for my complete rankings and data!