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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Brickyard 400 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: September 4, 2019, 3:38 pm ET

There will be several races happening at the same time this week and they all could contribute to a chaotic running order once the checkers wave.

Most of the drivers who are already locked in the playoffs can gamble on earning another five bonus points that goes to the winner, but there are several who cannot afford a bad run. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., and others have performed badly enough in recent weeks that they need the boost of morale associated with a good finish.

The Bubble Boys will be keeping an eye on one another – and in the case of Ryan Newman and Daniel Suarez that is more likely to be a hateful glare after last week’s run in at the Southern 500. The points are tight enough that those two, along with Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, can be elevated into contention with a solid points’ day. This week, they are all handicapped within a few positions of one another.


Finally, there is the rest of the field from 19th back who know their only chance to be part of the playoffs is to pull off a Hail Mary win. That has been done often enough on this track to make it front-of-mind for all teams on Sunday.

For this week’s handicap of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we will take a long look at past Indy races, but also how drivers have performed recently on the other 2.5-mile flat track of Pocono Raceway.

1. Denny Hamlin
Without damage last week Hamlin would most likely have scored his seventh consecutive top-five. He's regained his status as a flat track master and should easily rebound at Indy.

2. Kyle Busch
On the combined 2.5-mile flat tracks, Busch has finished in the top 10 nine times in his last 10 attempts, including three wins at Pocono and one at Indy in 2016.

3. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski won this race last year and finished second in 2017. Equally important, he has scored nine top-fives and two more top-10s in his last 13 races at Indy and Pocono.

4. Erik Jones
At Indy and Pocono, Jones is riding a current streak of four consecutive top-fives and now that he has broken back into Victory Lane, the sky is the limit.

5. Kevin Harvick
This is a track type that has been incredibly kind to Harvick in the past six years. He has 14 top-10s in his last 16 races at Indy and Pocono, which include five results of second or third.

6. Kyle Larson
Larson got off to a strong start at Indy with three consecutive top-10s, but his last two efforts have been much less impressive. While he has slipped down the order on this track, he's also struggled at Pocono.

7. Chase Elliott
This is the type of track that should benefit Elliott. It takes horsepower, handling, and the ability to communicate the changes needed to run well.

8. Ryan Blaney
Blaney has been consistent at Indy and Pocono in the past two years with results ranging from sixth to 12th. His 2018 Brickyard 400 netted an 11th.

9. Martin Truex Jr.
Three of Truex's last five attempts at Indy have ended in disappointment with results of 25th or worse. That outweighs his pair of top-10s from 2015/2016.

10. Joey Logano
We've given up on expecting Logano to reverse his fortune. He has the power to contend for a top-five, but until he gets the monkey off his back he is a risky proposition.

11. William Byron
Byron was 19th in last year's edition of this race, but he's an acceptable risk because he improved so rapidly on the other 2.5-mile flat track of Pocono. He swept the top 10 there this year.

12. Matt DiBenedetto
It will take several more weeks to know if DiBenedetto can remain an A-list driver, but in salary cap and allocation management games alike, he is a minimally-risky proposition.

13. Aric Almirola
He has not been lighting the track on fire recently, but Almirola has been solid on the other 2.5-mile track with a 10th and 12th at Pocono.

14. Ryan Newman
Newman should be able to clear the Brickyard 400 hurdle. He has finished in the top 10 in his last two Indy starts and won back in 2013.

15. Kurt Busch
Busch finished sixth in this race last year, but the majority of his recent efforts on the 2.5-mile tracks ended outside the top 10. It may be best to watch him from a distance this week.

16. Clint Bowyer
With a fifth-place finish in this race last year and a sixth in 2015, Bowyer is going to be an interesting driver to watch, but he's going to have a lot on his mind with the playoff berth looming and could overdrive.

17. Daniel Suarez
The battle for the final two spots in the playoffs will be interesting because all four drivers have at least one strong Indy run to recommend them.

18. Jimmie Johnson
The final position in the playoffs is going to come down to a razor thin margin and Johnson has been much more likely to finish in the teens recently at Indy. That simply won't get the job done.

19. Daniel Hemric
As with the other rookies this week, we are basing our Indy handicap for Hemric on his Pocono record where he has been perfect in regard to top-15 finishes.

20. Alex Bowman
This has never been a particularly good track for Bowman. Last's year's 33rd-place finish marks his career best. He will do better this week, but not enough to recommend him.

21. Michael McDowell
If he can stay out of trouble this week, McDowell could be one of the most pleasant surprises. Last year he was 17th at Indy and he has not finished worse than 25th in the past two seasons on either 2.5-mile flat track.

22. Paul Menard
Menard has two things in his favor this week. He won a fuel-mileage race at Indy in 2011 and is coming off a top-10 last week at Darlington.

23. Austin Dillon
Dillon has had his share of problems in the past couple of months, but his record at Indy and Pocono in the last two years has been fairly impressive with a pair of top-15s and another top-20.

24. Chris Buescher
Buescher's 14th- and 16th-place finishes at Pocono earlier this year are more reflective of how he will run in the Brickyard 400 than his 25th in this race last year.

25. Bubba Wallace
Wallace struggled at Indy and Pocono last year, but he has been in the low-20s in both of the Pennsylvania races this season and should be able to do that again in Indiana.

26. Ty Dillon
Dillon could beat this projection with a little luck. Last year he finished in the low-20s in three races on the 2.5-mile flat tracks. This year has not gone as well with a pair of results in the high-20s at Pocono.

27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Three of Stenhouse's last four attempts at Indy ended in the mid-30s and he's been better than 24th on this track only once in six starts.

28. Matt Tifft
We only have his two Pocono races to go on, but Tifft improved from his June 33rd to a 23rd in July and may be getting the hang of this track type.

29. Ross Chastain
If he qualifies outside the top 30, expect Chastain to earn positive place-differential points. He has finished 30th or better in four of his last five starts on the 2.5-mile flat tracks, including a 26th in this race last year.

30. Ryan Sieg
Sieg may be of more than just passing interest this week. He made five starts in 2017 for BK Racing and finished in the top 30 twice at Dover and Kentucky.

31. Ryan Preece
We are not quite sure what to do with Preece this week, but in light of his most recent Pocono race and his accident, we are going to be cautious.

32. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson comes to race. His last five efforts at Indy and Pocono ended between 28th and 31st in equipment that is similar to what he'll wheel this week.

33. JJ Yeley
He was with a different team last year, but Yeley scored a pair of top-30s at Pocono and Indy in 2018. With solid practice times, he could become fantasy relevant.

34. Parker Kligerman
Kligerman has not yet made a start on the 2.5-mile flat tracks, but he has a knack for getting the most out of the No. 96 each time it shows up at the track.

35. David Ragan
With results of 30th and 36th in his last two Pocono races, we are having a hard time getting overly excited about Ragan's 24th in last year's Brickyard 400.

36. Landon Cassill
In the past two years at Indy and Pocono, Cassill has finished in a narrow band of results from 28th to 34th. Look for a similar finish this week.

37. Corey LaJoie
If LaJoie can find the right setup this week, he could be a surprise contender for a top-25. He finished 27th in last year's Brickyard 400 and was 26th in his last attempt at Pocono.

38. BJ McLeod
In four starts at Pocono and Indy, McLeod has finished in the low-30s three times. That might happen again, but it's hard to predict how much attrition we will face.

39. Garrett Smithley
In his last two starts at the Cup level, Smithley has finished 35th at Michigan and Darlington. This week, there will be a full contingent of 40 cars, so he will finish worse.

 

Drivers Most Accurately
Predicted This Year

 

 

 

 

David Ragan

4.5

10

Landon Cassill

4.7

14

Martin Truex Jr.

4.9

11

Matt Tifft

4.9

14

Ty Dillon

5.4

12

Kyle Busch

5.6

11

Paul Menard

5.7

10

Ryan Newman

6.1

10

Chris Buescher

6.3

8

Denny Hamlin

6.4

17

Bubba Wallace

6.4

12

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.