The NASCAR Cup Series was one of the first major sports to return to action during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has been diagnosed with the illness and will miss today’s 27th Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The starting lineup is set for today’s race, so let’s dive into strategy and picks for one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.
NASCAR at Indianapolis DraftKings DFS Strategy
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Today’s race is going to be similar to Pocono in terms of strategy. We’ll see multiple race strategies, and potentially different leaders. The big difference — it’s even harder to pass at Indianapolis than it is at Pocono. That makes dominators a little more significant at Indy than Pocono, but as always, the dynamic of the race can change on a single caution.
The 2.5-mile layout of the track means horsepower is still king, so don’t expect any back-markers to run toward the front. We’ll want to stack our lineup with as many top-tier drivers as possible, which means a balanced approach to lineup building makes sense.
All of the top drivers are in play, but my favorites to win are Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. These drivers are in my dominator group, along with the top two drivers listed below.
NASCAR at Indianapolis DraftKings DFS Picks
Joey Logano ($9200) – I don’t love writing up the pole-sitter at a big track where strategy often comes into play, but I think this is an exception. Unless Logano has a car that is quite off, I expect him to lead the whole first stint of this race.
Indianapolis is a notoriously hard-to-pass track, and Logano will have the edge over Kurt Busch who starts second and Alex Bowman who starts third. I also don’t expect Justin Allgaier (starting fourth) or Aric Almirola (starting fifth) to challenge Logano for the early lead.
It’s quite possible strategy catches Logano out, so I wouldn’t go crazy here, but 30% exposure seems reasonable for a driver who could lead the first third of this race.
Kyle Busch ($10,400) – Busch is a two-time winner at Indianapolis. His DNF at a similar track, Pocono, last weekend could sour some DFS players. However, Busch had a top-five finish in the first Pocono race, and was running inside the top 10 at the end of the first stage of the second Pocono race.
Winless in 2020, Busch’s ownership may be depressed at a track where he shines.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8300) – The Cup race at Indianapolis has had some surprise winners over the years, and DiBenedetto fits the mold of a driver who could pull off that feat.
Drivers like Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard have all had good, but not great, careers. Yet, each of these drivers won at Indy.
DiBenedetto just came off of finishes of 13th and sixth at Pocono, and has a prior eighth-place finish at Indianapolis while driving for low-funded Go Fas Racing in 2017. DiBenedetto rolls of 15th, so he shouldn’t be exceptionally high owned.
He has Penske power, which is tops in the business, to guide him through 400 miles at a high-horsepower track.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7200) – This won’t be the most popular pick across NASCAR DFS circles, but I’m willing to stick my neck out here for Stenhouse. He’s been awful at Indianapolis over his career, but that’s a bit result-oriented considering he hasn’t had an incident-free finish since 2016, when he finished 12th.
Stenhouse starts the furthest back of the mid-tier drivers drawing the 13th-24th-place starting positions, and had two solid results at Pocono, averaging a 16th-place finish. I don’t expect a great day out of Stenhouse, but I do think his probability of a good finish is higher than what his ownership will end up being.