The Setup – Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line
By Tyler Miller
@rickybobby_jr

This weekend NASCAR heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the running of the Brickyard 400. This is NASCAR’s annual stop at Indy, the 26th time the cup series will race at IMS. Brad Keselowski won this race in 2018 from the 6th starting position. Indy has a unique schedule, drivers will qualify Sunday morning at 10:35 am and race a few hours later at 2pm eastern. This schedule puts a time crunch on DFS lineups, but if you stay on top of the qualifying results, you could be at a big advantage over other players who might be distracted by week 1 of the NFL.
Race Distance: 160 laps, Stage 1 ends on lap 50, Stage 2 ends on lap 100.
Lineup Lock 2:00 pm eastern Sunday
Last year’s winner – Brad Keselowski (started 6th)
Last year’s pole sitter: Denny Hamlin

Prior race winners:
2017: Kasey Kahne (started 19th)
2016: Kyle Busch. (1st)
2015: Kyle Busch (9h)
2014: Jeff Gordon (2nd)

Darlington Recap:
What went right?
Darlington did not work out well. I included Kyle Larson and Erik Jones in Victory Lane, though I was apprehensive in playing Jones. Aric Almirola did what I expected him to do, finishing 17th from his 30th place starting position. My value plays, Reed Sorenson and Matt Tifft, also performed as expected. I wrote up Kyle Busch in Victory Lane but suggested fading him in single entry tournament contests which was a mistake.
What went wrong?
I directed people away from Kyle Busch in single entry tournaments as a way to be contrarian. He ended up with less ownership than I expected and fading him was a total mistake. I recommended William Byron and Denny Hamlin who both ended up in the same crash. Martin Truex Jr. showed promise early but did not pan out in the end, same goes for Chase Elliott. I missed on Matt DiBenedetto. Overall, Darlington was a missed opportunity becayse I had the right drivers written up in Victory Lane but my strategy was completely wrong. A lineup with Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, and Reed Sorenson (48k in salary) would have scored 393.3 (Fan Duel) and finished in the top 15% in tournaments. I had all of those drivers written up in Victory Lane, but I did not utilize them successfully.
What to watch for in practice/qualifying:
Sunday Morning Qualifying Qualifying occurs Sunday morning at 10:30 am. There will be some people that set lineups on Saturday after practice and forget to check the qualifying results. This presents us with an opportunity because many DFS players will get distracted by NFL kickoff and miss key developments at Indy. Be sure to double check lineups on Sunday after qualifying. We will have Victory Lane updated between qualifying and the race to help out with lineup decisions.
Kyle Busch Every week we have to make a decision regarding Kyle Busch. He is priced up to $15,500 on Fan Duel. It is really hard to play him in single entry cash games when his price is that high. The decision on what to do with Kyle will be key again on Sunday.
Team Penske Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been notably quiet in the past few races. Keselowski is the defending winner of this race and may be riding some momentum after a somewhat quiet 5th place finish at Darlington. I would keep an eye on the 2 and 22 this weekend to see if they might be a viable option for lineups on Sunday.
Follow the Leader Indy has the potential to be a single file, 400 mile, parade. Watch practice and the Xfinity race on Saturday to see if cars can make passes and how easily they can move through the field. The aero package and tire combination will play a big role in the type of racing we see on Sunday.
End of the Regular Season Indianapolis marks the end of the 26 race regular season for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Clint Bowyer (+8) Daniel Suarez (+/- 0), Ryan Newman (tied with Suarez but loses tie breaker), and Jimmie Johnson (-18) are competing for 2 playoff spots. Johnson (4) and Newman (1) both have wins at the Brickyard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jimmie Johnson play a pit strategy game late in the race to try to steal a victory. It’s also worth noting that Ryan Newman vowed revenge on Daniel Suarez after the two made contact at Darlington.
What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):

Kyle Busch is favored to win at 3-1. Big movers include Kyle Larson down to 12-1, Chase Elliott down to 20-1, and Erik Jones up to 8-1 after Darlington.

Kyle Busch: 3-1
Kevin Harvick: 6-1
Denny Hamlin: 6-1
Martin Truex Jr: 8-1
Erik Jones: 8-1
Brad Keselowski: 10-1
Joey Logano: 10-1
Kyle Larson: 12-1
Chase Elliott: 20-1
Ryan Blaney 20-1
Kurt Busch: 20-1
Driver Ratings at Indy:
1. Kyle Busch 106.7
2. Jimmie Johnson 101.3
3. Kevin Harvick 98.6
4. Kyle Larson 98.6
5. Denny Hamlin 94.1
6. Erik Jones 93.4
7. Brad Keselowski 91.6
8. Joey Logano 90.2
9. Clint Bowyer 86.0
10. Ryan Blaney 81.9
11. Jamie McMurray 80.6
12. Kurt Busch 78.9
13. Ryan Newman 78.9
14. Martin Truex Jr 78.4
15. Daniel Suarez 76.3

* The top 14 in driver rating have all had a single race at Indy with a driver rating 97.3 or higher. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson have each had a race with a 150.0 driver rating.

Average Running Position
1. Kyle Larson 9.735
2. Erik Jones 10.271
3. Kyle Busch 10.836
4. Jimmie Johnson 11.589
5. Kevin Harvick 11.722
6. Joey Logano 12.891
7. Brad Keselowski 13.533
8. Denny Hamlin 13.584
9. Ryan Blaney 13.762
10. William Byron 14.231
11. Clint Bowyer 14.735
12. Jamie McMurray 16.343
13. Daniel Suraez 16.440
14. Martin Truex Jr. 18.116
15. Kurt Busch 18.215

Laps Led
1. Kyle Busch 324 (14.4% of laps run)
2. Jimmie Johnson 304 (13.4)
3. Kevin Harvick 152 (6.8)
4. Denny Hamlin 112 (5.4)
5. Brad Keselowski 108 (7.4)
6. Joey Logano 55 (3.4)
7. Ryan Newman 45 (2.0)
8. Clint Bowyer 43 (2.1)

2018 Top 10:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Erik Jones
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kurt Busch
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Kyle Busch
9. Paul Menard
10. Ryan Newman

Stay tuned for updated content following final practice on Saturday night.

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