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DFS NASCAR: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 Preview and Picks

Denny Hamlin/NASCAR Media
DFS NASCAR: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 Preview and Picks
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The Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 is race No. 20 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a 2.5-mile-long track with a unique layout, featuring characteristics similar to Pocono and Michigan. Drivers that have displayed top speeds at those tracks and in practices are some of your better bets.


Martin Truex Jr. ($10,600), Kyle Busch ($10,500), and Kyle Larson ($10,200) have been three of the best performing drivers this season. Kyle Busch is the only one of the three to have won at Indianapolis previously, while Larson and Truex have never won at the site. Kyle Busch also has the best Average Running Position of 6.6 at IMS compared to Larson, who has an ARP of 8.0, which ranks third of active drivers. Truex ranks 10th with an ARP of 12.9. Larson starts in 25th while Truex starts sixth and Kyle Busch starts first. Out of the three, Larson is an ideal pick to pick up points from Place Differential since he had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kyle Busch will also be a very strong pick, as he will lead a lot of laps from starting first and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Truex was 10th in final practice, therefore he should finish slightly behind his starting position based on his practice speeds.

Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) is looking to become the second driver in Cup Series history to earn five wins at Indianapolis, while Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott ($9,600) seeks to become the second member of his family to win at the “Brickyard”. Johnson has seven Top 10 finishes and 302 Laps Led, which is the most of active drivers, in 15 starts at Indianapolis. Elliott’s best finish at Indianapolis in two starts is 15th. Jimmie Johnson starts fourth while Elliott starts 16th. Johnson may start closer to the front of the field, but has been better in all pre-race events than Elliott. This makes Johnson the better fantasy pick than Elliott, as faster practice speeds and qualifying will dictate success at Indianapolis. It’s not easy to earn PD points at IMS since it’s harder to gain positions compared to other tracks. Overall, Johnson is a good pick to finish around his starting position, while Elliott will finish just outside the Top 10 based on practice speeds.

Kevin Harvick ($9,900) will compete for the win this week. In his last four starts at Indianapolis, Harvick has the second most Laps Led at 89, the second-most Fastest Laps at 39, the fourth-best ARP of 8.5, and the second-best DR of 107.5. Harvick starts second and was second-fastest in final practice. Harvick nearly won at Pocono, which has some comparable characteristics to Indianapolis, and he has been very consistent with three Top 10 finishes in the last four races.

Joe Gibbs Racing finally broke through for their first win of the season with Denny Hamlin ($9,500) at New Hampshire. Hamlin’s teammate, Matt Kenseth ($9,200), also scored his first Top 5 finish in seven races last week. Both drivers have never won at Indianapolis but have a combined 17 Top 10 finishes in 28 starts at the site. In the last four Indianapolis races, Kenseth has an ARP of  8.9, which is fifth of active drivers, while Hamlin has the seventh-best ARP of 11.1. Kenseth has the superior DR of 105.4, which ranks fourth, while Hamlin has the eighth-best DR of 96.8. Kenseth starts in the No. 14 spot while Hamlin starts fifth. In both practices, Hamlin was faster than Kenseth and will finish better than him as well. Hamlin is the better pick as indicated by practice speeds and has performed better than Kenseth in the last few races in 2017.

Both Team Penske drivers, Brad Keselowski ($9,300) and Joey Logano ($9,100), have never won at Indianapolis and will not change that fact this week. Both drivers have one Top 10 finish each in the last three races in 2017. In the last four races at Indianapolis, Logano has the second-best ARP of 7.7, while Keselowski has the ninth-best ARP of 12.5. Logano starts seventh and was 11th in final practice, while Keselowski starts 11th and was 19th in final practice. Both drivers should finish behind their starting positions as indicated by practice speeds. The speeds of the Penske cars, compared to other teams, has been off in the last few races, making it advisable to look at other options.


PD points are hard to earn at Indianapolis, since it is difficult for drivers to gain positions due to the track’s layout. In many cases, it is best to pick drivers that will finish higher rather than those who gain the most positions. The drivers who will fit the best in the $8,000 range are Ryan Blaney ($8,900) and Kurt Busch ($8,300). Blaney starts 10th and Kurt Busch starts 12th. In final practice, Blaney was third fastest and Kurt Busch was seventh fastest. The practice speeds of both drivers mark finishes inside the Top 10.

Kasey Kahne ($7,900) only has three Top 10 finishes this season and has not been a strong performer this year, but expect a better outlook this week. Kahne starts 19th and was ninth-fastest while also having the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. In every start since joining Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne has finished with a positive PD.  Kahne is one of a few drivers that will be able to score a decent amount of points from PD according to practice speeds, and Indy has been one of Kahne’s more favorable tracks in the past. Watch for Kahne to finish ahead of his starting position once again.

Daniel Suarez ($7,800) will be making his Cup Series debut at Indianapolis. Suarez starts 15th and was 12th in final practice. Suarez matched his career-best finish of sixth last week and has finished with positive PD points in two of his last three races. Watch for Suarez to finish just outside the Top 10.


A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900) is a bargain that every owner should highly consider for this week. Allmendinger did not set a lap during qualifying and will start 39th. Allmendinger was 30th in final practice and has finished in the Top 25 in seven of his eight starts at Indianapolis. Watch for Allmendinger to capture a lot of points from PD as reflected by history and practice speeds.

Chris Buescher ($6,600) has made only one start at Indianapolis. He started 22nd and finished 14th. Buescher has finished outside of the Top 25 only four times this season and has an average PD of +4.6. Buescher starts 26th and is worth recommending just for the consistency he’s had this season.

Indianapolis is the site of Paul Menard’s ($6,300) only Cup Series victory. In 10 starts at the site, Menard has seven Top 20 finishes. Menard starts 17th and finished second in the Xfinity Series race. Indianapolis is one of Menard’s best tracks and he has two Top 15 finishes in the last four races. Menard’s history at IMS makes him worth consideration.


$10,000 – Plus Range

1: Kyle Busch ($10,500) – He will lead a lot of laps and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice.

2: Kyle Larson ($10,200) – He starts in 25th and his practice speeds were much better than a lot of drivers starting ahead of him.

3: Jimmie Johnson ($10,000) – Johnson will finish around his starting position as marked by practice speeds.

$9,000 – Plus Range

1: Kevin Harvick ($9,900) – Harvick has been one of the fastest in pre-race events and will compete for a Top 3 finish.

2: Chase Elliott ($9,600) – Elliott starts 16th and will finish just outside the Top 10.

3: Denny Hamlin ($9,500) – He has momentum from winning last week and looked good in practices. He will finish around his starting position.

$8,000 – Plus Range

1: Ryan Blaney ($8,900) – Blaney has displayed impressive speeds in pre-race events and will finish in the Top 10, ahead of his starting position.

2: Kurt Busch ($8,300) – He will finish in the Top 10, ahead of his starting position, just behind Blaney.

3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($8,200) – Earnhardt starts 13th and was in the Top 10 of both practices. He will finish in the Top 10.

$7,000 – Plus Range

1: Daniel Suarez ($7,800) – Suarez has momentum from securing one of this best finishes this season and has looked good in practices.

2: Kasey Kahne ($7,900) – Kahne starts 19th and has practice speeds that project a finish ahead of his starting position in the Top 15.

3: Ryan Newman ($7,300) – Newman starts eighth and had practice speeds that indicate a finish around his starting position.

Below $7,000 Range

1: A.J. Allmendinger ($6,900) – Allmendinger starts 39th and the potential PD that he can earn is too good to ignore.

2: Chris Buescher ($6,600) – Buescher has been a solid fantasy performer all season and will finish ahead of his starting position.

3: Paul Menard ($6,300) – Indy is one of his best tracks and performed well in the Xfinity race.