The NASCAR Cup Series goes road-course racing once again as it heads to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.
With practice and qualifying under wraps, and three other road-course races already contested, there’s plenty of data to work with to set our DFS lineups.
Only 82 laps are scheduled, meaning we should focus less on race dominators, and instead on the combination of place differential, finishing position, and salary to ultimately extract the most value.
Additionally, we should keep in mind this could be a calmer race than in years past thanks to NASCAR moving the restart zone one corner earlier.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
Here are my NASCAR DFS picks for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.
Indianapolis DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
William Byron ($8900): Byron starts shotgun on the field thanks to his car failing inspection three times. While he will have to serve a pass-through penalty at the start of the race, that won’t put him a lap down and he should easily remain on the lead lap until the first caution comes out either at the end of the first stage, or perhaps sooner.
The Hendrick cars all looked very strong, with Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman all posting fast practice times and starting inside the top 10. Byron similarly looked strong in practice, so expect him to move forward easily.
A.J. Allmendinger ($9300): Allmendinger is both a road-course expert and a full-time driver in the Cup Series, giving him a leg up on the competition
Allmendinger struggled with his car in practice, but his racecraft on this course type, and specifically at IMS, should help him overcome any ails his car may give him. Besides, there’s a long race ahead to improve his car.
His teammate Justin Haley looked great, so we know the team has speed. They’ll find a working setup for Allmendinger.
Expect him to easily move forward from his 26th-place starting position, barring any major incidents.
PrizePicks projects Allmendinger to move forward 18.5 spots Sunday. Be sure to check out all the pick’ems PrizePicks has to offer with PrizePicks promo code LABS for a $100 deposit match.
Austin Dillon ($6200): The older Dillon brother posted a five-lap average in practice equal to Chase Elliott’s and a 10-lap average faster than Elliott and Christopher Bell. All three drivers were in the same practice group, so this is an apples-to-apples comparison.
In addition, both of Dillon’s teammates start inside the top 11 and also had fast cars in practice. Just because he didn’t have single-lap speed in qualifying doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a strong car.
Comfortably start him from the 27th-place position on the grid.
Indianapolis DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
One Front Runner: Among Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson, my model expect an average of one of these drivers to end up in the optimal lineup.
It’s hard to say which one will, but it’s likely that it’s the one who leads the most laps and wins, although there are certainly scenarios where it’s either a dominator or the winner. It’s also possible a dominator isn’t the winner and two end up optimal, but at most you should play two of these drivers (as well as the next driver I’m about to mention) in a single lineup.
If I had to rank these drivers from most likely to dominate, this is the order I’d take:
- Tyler Reddick
- Daniel Suarez
- Chase Elliott
- Michael McDowell
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
Christopher Bell ($9400): While it doesn’t necessarily look it from my model’s projections, it actually is quite high on Christopher Bell’s chances for a strong race.
The issue, of course, is that he starts near the front and there aren’t going to be a ton of dominator points to go around. However, Bell should draw less usage than Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Shane van Gisbergen, and Martin Truex Jr., all of whom are in the $10k range.
But Bell is nearly as good as all those drivers in my model, and he stands a strong chance to take home the checkered flag.
At this very track last year, Bell put in by far the best Toyota performance of the year at a road course, and he backed it up with a strong practice showing. Pair him with one of the other elite drivers for a high-upside lineup.
Alex Bowman or Chase Briscoe ($6800 or $6700): One of these two drivers stands a good chance at making the optimal lineup today.
Briscoe was extremely happy with his car and said in a post-practice interview that he felt like he could contend for the race win. Meanwhile, Bowman was among the quartet of Hendrick Motorsports cars that all looked very strong in practice.
Bowman in particular is an interesting play because his salary is at rock bottom thanks to a series of poor races, so this is a great buy-low spot on him.
Meanwhile, Briscoe’s reputation is also quite poor thanks to a year of struggles on intermediate tracks. However, this isn’t an intermediate track, but rather a road course where Briscoe has had plenty of success across both the Cup and Xfinity series.
Since it’s unlikely both drivers move forward enough to make it into the optimal lineup, this is mostly an either/or situation. Play one or the other in the lineups you do play them. It is possible they both end up in the optimal lineup, but there’s enough negative correlation here that you should play at most one in a lineup unless you’re mass multi-entering, in which it’s okay to sprinkle in a very small portion of lineups that includes both.
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