Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Brickyard 400 Cheat Sheet

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Brickyard 400 is one of NASCAR’s marquee events that everyone wants to win. Teams will pull out all the stops with fuel mileage gambles, alternate tire strategies, and experimental parts to get a chance to be the first to the checkers. This has always been one of the more difficult races to handicap.

Toss in in the fact that it is now the regular season finale and all bets are off. One can be tempted to treat this as a wild card race and take a wide array of drivers on their fantasy roster – but if the race goes green for extended periods, the cream is still likely to rise to the top.

For this week’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, vary your lineup. Concentrate on the big names with big teams for most of the roster, but don’t be afraid to take a dark horse or two.

1. Kyle Busch
Busch would have contended for his third Brickyard 400 consecutive win last year if not for contact with Truex on a late-race restart.

2. Joey Logano
One reason Logano was so excited about his second-place finish in the Southern 500 was because he knew that Indy was just around the corner. He has three top-fives in his last four races there.

3. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has been solid at Indy, but in the past seven years he's finished in the top five only once. That record is bound to improve this week.

4. Kyle Larson
For the moment, put Larson's 28th-place finish last year out of mind and concentrate on his perfect record of top-10s in the three races preceding.

5. Erik Jones
Jones has become one of the most consistently strong drivers in the past 10 races with eight top-10s to his credit and another on the way.

6. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski lost last year's Brickyard 400 on a late-race restart, but he was in position to win based on attrition. His more common result on this track is between sixth and 10th.

7. Chase Elliott
This is the type of track that should reward Elliott, but in three starts so far he has not yet cracked the top 10. We're willing to be that won't be said after Sunday's race.

8. Martin Truex Jr.
Only time will tell if this week's announcement of Furniture Row shuttering its doors will affect how Truex and the team perform.

9. Kurt Busch
Six of Busch's last seven races this season have ended in results of sixth through ninth. His outlier was a victory at Bristol, so he deserves a featured position on most rosters.

10. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin crashed on the last lap of the 2017 Brickyard 400 and that snapped a three-race, top-five streak. If he had momentum on his side, we'd predict a better finish.

11. Ryan Blaney
Last week, Blaney trailed behind his teammates at Darlington. The same will probably happen at Indy, but he could still be a good value in the right circumstances.

12. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has finished outside the top 10 in seven of the last eight races and seems to be losing some of the momentum he built early in the season.

13. Alex Bowman
Bowman became part of the conversation from Sonoma through Daytona with three straight top-10s. In seven races since then, he's earned only two more.

14. Daniel Suarez
Speculation is on the rise that Suarez could lose his ride to Truex next year. A strong run this week would quiet those rumors or put him in contention for a better ride.

15. Aric Almirola
Almirola has been hit or miss recently with four top-15s versus four results of 25th or worse in his last eight oval track races.

16. Ryan Newman
This is Newman's last opportunity to get into the playoffs - but it's going to take a great strategy to get him all the way to the front.

17. Jamie McMurray
Last week, Chip Ganassi Racing showed some resurgence with both drivers, but McMurray has stumbled enough this year to suggest caution before committing an allocation.

18. Chris Buescher
Some of Buescher's best runs have come on 2.5-mile flat tracks - but his Pocono win in 2016 was aided by weather and a top-10 at Indy was helped by attrition.

19. William Byron
This is a track that has been incredibly kind to Hendrick Motorsports in the past and that could play into the favor of Byron.

20. Austin Dillon
Can Richard Childress Racing pull another rabbit out of their hat like they did for Menard in 2011? It's possible. Dillon earned his first Cup win on fuel mileage at Charlotte in 2017.

21. Matt Kenseth
There is no doubt that Kenseth can run at Indy - he has a current five-race streak of top-seven results - but the car has not proved to be up to the same caliber this year.

22. Jimmie Johnson
Unless there is a unique winner from outside the top 15 and Johnson falls behind Bowman in the points, the No. 48 will make the playoffs. But only by the skin of their teeth.

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Indy has not been one of Stenhouse's better tracks with four results of 24th or worse in five career attempts.

24. Paul Menard
Menard's win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 was aided by fuel, but he has finished between 10th and 16th in five of the six races since then.

25. AJ Allmendinger
Flat tracks have a lot of similarity with road courses. That has kept Allmendinger in contention for top-20 finishes in his last six attempts at Indy and Pocono.

26. David Ragan
Three of Ragan's last five races ended in top-20 finishes, including a 19th on the most recent flat track of Pocono.

27. Kasey Kahne
Kahne was the surprise winner of this race last year, but he cannot count on half the field getting wrecked again in 2018.

28. Michael McDowell
Three of McDowell's last five Indy races ended in results of 26th or better. He should be watched closely in practice and qualification for possible inclusion as a bargain basement dark horse.

29. Ty Dillon
In seven attempts on 2.5-mile flat tracks, Dillon's worst result was a 24th at Pocono this July. Last year, he was 19th at Indy.

30. Landon Cassill
Cassill has quietly amassed four results of 25th through 31st in the past four weeks. He won't anchor a roster, but at least players know what they are going to get from the No. 00.

31. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto scored a dramatic top-10 at Indy last year courtesy of heavy attrition. His two previous results on this track were a 32nd in 2015 and 40th in 2016.

32. Bubba Wallace
This will be Wallace's first attempt at Indy, so fantasy players will look to his Pocono record to help decide his handicap. He finished in the 30s in both races there this season.

33. Ross Chastain
Last week, Chastain was a big part of the conversation because of his Xfinity run. On Sunday, he finished 28th to score his second consecutive top-30.

34. Timmy Hill
It will not matter to Hill that his 14th-place finish last year was on account of so many cars crashing - he still has a top-15 to his credit on one of racing's most storied tracks.

35. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie was the first driver out of last year's Brickyard 400. Many more soon followed. He should be able to go a little farther this year than nine laps.

36. Gray Gaulding
Gaulding finished 24th in this race last year with Premium Motorsports - but that race was affected by heavy attrition including an accident that ultimately sidelined him.

37. BJ McLeod
McLeod is becoming a staple in this ride. He's started the last six oval races and accumulated an average finish of 35th.

38. David Starr
Since this is Starr's first race of the 2018 season, there is very little to go on and he should simply be evaluated in case he is in future events.

39. JJ Yeley
The No. 23 needs to keep fielding a car in order to keep their charter intact - but that does not mean they need to be competitive.

41. Reed Sorenson
Nine of Sorenson's 10 races this year ended in the 30s - so there is not much of an upside to starting him at Indy.

40. Jeffrey Earnhardt
In three starts with his current team, Earnhardt has a best result of 29th. His ultimate finish this Sunday will rely on attrition.

Previous Cheat Sheets

Gander Outdoors 400 (Pocono 2) 
Pocono 400 (Pocono 1) 
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (New Hampshire) 
TicketGuardian 500 (Phoenix) 
Southern 500 


Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver

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