DraftKings NASCAR: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
DraftKings NASCAR: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

Location: Speedway, Ind.
Course: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile oval
Laps: 160

Race Preview

Brad Keselowski snagged his first win of 2018 and his first Southern 500 victory last week. While he was a first-time winner this season his victory did not shake up the playoff picture since he had previously clinched his spot through points. The final race for drivers hoping to take part in the championship fight is this week's Brickyard 400. It is the first time the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway has hosted the final round of the regular season, and fantasy players could expect some different racing than they've seen here in the past as teams jockey to make the playoffs. Kyle Busch is likely to be an early favorite with two wins in the last three races at the speedway. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are likely not going to be too far behind, though. The trio is expected to continue their domination of the season all the way to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Those drivers without a win at the bottom end of the playoff standings should feel comfortable with their point margins, but could be on the outside looking in if an unexpected winner comes through on Sunday.

Key Stats at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Number of previous races: 24
Winners from pole: 4
Winners from top-5 starters: 12
Winners from top-10 starters: 15
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 3
Fastest race: 155.912 mph

Last 10 Brickyard Winners

2017 - Kasey Kahne
2016 - Kyle Busch
2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Jeff Gordon
2013 - Ryan Newman
2012 - Jimmie Johnson
2011 - Paul Menard
2010 - Jamie McMurray
2009 - Jimmie Johnson
2008 - Jimmie Johnson

Historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway is perhaps the most iconic circuit in the country. Its four 90-degree corners feature just nine degrees of banking, and its long straights push engines to the maximum. The flat circuit makes for single-lane racing, which has tended to make this particular race more processional in nature. Being the final regular-season race this season could spice up the show, though. Strategy and track position are the keys to winning at this circuit. The long lap opens the range of options to teams looking to get off strategy to gain track position, while two-tire stops on short runs could also push cars further forward. Drivers will be searching for a setup that allows their car to cruise through the middle of the four turns, allowing them to get on throttle as early as possible off of turns 2 and 4. Doing this effectively will set up passing opportunities at the end of the long straights into turns 1 and 3. Late cautions will likely bring a lot of pit road gambles, and fantasy owners should be looking for drivers that have the potential to deliver finish differential points.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Kyle Busch - $11,700
Kyle Larson - $11,300
Denny Hamlin - $10,600

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Ryan Blaney - $9,500
Chase Elliott - $9,200
Clint Bowyer - $9,000
Erik Jones - $8,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Aric Almirola - $8,000
Jamie McMurray - $7,900
Daniel Suarez - $7,500
Ryan Newman - $7,200

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Matt Kenseth - $7,000
Paul Menard - $6,700
Chris Buescher - $6,500
A.J. Allmendinger - $6,100

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $11,700
Chase Elliott - $9,200
Aric Almirola - $8,000
Daniel Suarez - $7,500
Matt Kenseth - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,500

Kyle Busch has been the master of Indianapolis Motor Speedway recently. His two wins in the last three visits make him an obvious selection for the lower-risk lineup. Chase Elliott hasn't had a great first three visits to the track, but has been on a run of top-10 finishes since New Hampshire. He should be a serious consideration this weekend with that momentum. Similarly, Aric Almirola has never finished in the top 10 at Indy but did at Phoenix and Pocono earlier this season. Those tracks are similar in nature, which suggests Almirola could outperform this week. News this past week means Daniel Suarez is out of a ride for next season. He will use the last races this year to audition for a new ride and Indy will be his first chance to impress. It should be a good opportunity for him after finishing seventh in his track debut last year. Matt Kenseth was in a similar situation last season, but he is back again. With 12 top-10s from 18 Indianapolis starts he has what it takes to get Roush Fenway Racing a respectable result. It has been a rough season for Chris Buescher, but he has found some traction in recent weeks. Four consecutive top-20 finishes make him a good option this week with an average Indianapolis finish of 11.5 from two starts.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $12,200
Kyle Larson - $11,300
Ryan Newman - $7,200
Paul Menard - $6,700
Ty Dillon - $6,300
A.J. Allmendinger - $6,100

Kevin Harvick had an impressive Southern 500 to finish fourth after starting 22nd. He won the 2003 edition of this race and hasn't finished lower than eighth at Indy since 2013. Kyle Larson also drove an impressive race last week, but lacked the short-run speed necessary to take the win. His worst Brickyard finish came last season after crashing, but hadn't finished worse than ninth at the track prior. Another driver building momentum into the final portion of the season is Ryan Newman, who won Indy in 2013. He finished third last year and should not be overlooked this week. Paul Menard is another past Brickyard winner who should be able to deliver a top-15 finish this week. Watch his pace in practice, but he has been qualifying well and just needs to translate that to a full race distance. Ty Dillon and A.J. Allmendinger are the final two drivers fantasy players should consider in their higher-risk lineup. The pair will be gunning for the win on Sunday to book a surprise visit to the playoffs. Both have two Indianapolis top-10 finishes to their credit, too.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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