The Sprint Cup Series moves to the brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, and the big news is that Hendrick Motorsports will welcome back Jeff Gordon ($8,800). He will sub in for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. (concussion), who was told by neurologists that he should take off at least an additional two weeks. So the Rainbow Warrior is back, although he’ll be driving the No. 88 and not his familiar No. 24, as that’s Chase Elliott‘s ($9,200) ride now.
So, what can you expect from Gordon, who hasn’t been behind the wheel since November when he officially retired from full-time racing for a television analyst gig at FOX. Well, if Gordon was going to come back for a cameo and be successful, Indianapolis is the perfect place for a return. He is just two years removed from his win at the brickyard, and he has five career wins at the track which is more than any other driver. A teammate once again, Jimmie Johnson ($9,700) could tie Gordon, as he looks for his fifth-career win at the legendary track.
(DraftKings.com salaries in parentheses)
Gordon ranks third among all drivers with a 106.8 Driver Rating over the past five starts at Indy, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data, leading 88 laps, which is ironic due to the number on his car this weekend. He has run 77.3 percent of his laps inside the Top 15, and posted an Average-Finish Position (AFP) of 11.3 during the past five years at the track. Johnson leads all drivers with a 114.2 Driver Rating and 173 laps led, most of any driver on the circuit. He didn’t start out so hot early in his career at Indianapolis, but he does have 10 Top 20s in 14 career starts. A Hendrick reunion one-two isn’t a bad way to go.
Gordon and J.J. aren’t the only Hendrick drivers worthy of your attention, however. Don’t forget Kasey Kahne ($7,700), who is a bargain at this price tag. He is fourth in Driver Rating over the past five years at 105.3, leading 118 laps which is second only to Johnson. While he has never won at Indy, he has come close with a runner-up finish, three Top 5s and half of his 12 career starts resulting in Top 10 finishes. As a No. 4 or 5 driver in DraftKings, he is a steal. In Yahoo! Sports leagues this week, you have the luxury of using Johnson, Kahne AND Gordon, as the latter shows up on the C-list to give you relief from the lesser drivers for at least the next two weekends.
When running in Indy, never forgot Hoosier State son Tony Stewart ($8,400), who has two wins at the track and also used to run open-wheel there as well. Stewart tops the charts with a 9.7 AFP in 17 career starts, leading 227 laps while posting seven Top 5 finishes, 11 Top 10s and never finishing lower than 28th, even in his darkest seasons. It’s like 2005 again, and using Stewart and Gordon together in a lineup is not only prudent, but economical, too!
Stewart’s teammate, Kevin Harvick ($10,500), is the highest-priced driver on the board again this week, as he looks to get back to Victory Lane for the first time since the Brickyard 400 back in August 2003. He is seventh in Driver Rating over the past five at 98.4, so you might want to go another way as there are better values on the board. Teammate Kurt Busch ($9,400) has 18 Top 10s in 22 starts this season, posting an Average Finish of 9.1 which is better than everyone on the board. However, he has had issues over the years at Indy, posting a very dismal 19.2 AFP in 15 career starts with just one Top 5 showing and two DNFs. Six of his 15 career runs have resulted in finishes of 21st or worse, so it is a good idea to stay away.
Toyota broke through for its first-ever win at the track last season, as Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch ($10,400) posted a win. Over the past five years Busch is second in Driver Rating at 110.5, running 82.8 percent of his laps inside the Top 15 while leading all drivers with a 5.0 AFP. Matt Kenseth ($9,600), fresh off his win at New Hampshire, is looking for his first-ever win at Indy. He has a respectable 13.9 AFP in 16 career starts, posting seven Top 5s, including a runner-up, while finishing 10th or better on 10 different occasions. He just hasn’t been able to get over the hump. Kenseth is a steady and safe DFS and Fantasy NASCAR selection this weekend in all formats.
You certainly can never discount Penske Racing at Indy, as the two names go hand in hand. Brad Keselowski ($9,800) has never won at the track in six career starts, but he has been a contender. Three of his finishes are Top 10s, and he has a 13.3 AFP with 61 laps led. Joey Logano ($10,100) has also failed to reach Victory Lane in seven tries at the track, but he has two Top 5s, including a runner-up, and four Top 10s with 49 laps led. Both have been red-hot lately, and they’re each good values at Indy.
When rooting around through the bargain bin, you’ll come up with plenty of gems. Paul Menard ($7,000) knows the intricacies of the place from his days in open-wheel racing, and he won his first-career Sprint Cup Series race in July 2011 at Indy. While he has fallen on hard times lately at the track, he checks in with six Top 20 finishes in nine career starts while leading 22 laps. That’s not great, but as a No. 5 or 6 driver he is a value with some upside.
Jamie McMurray ($7,400) is another low-priced driver with a win under his belt at the Brickyard 400. He claimed checks in July 2010, and checks in with a 14.7 AFP in 13 career starts, posting three Top 5s and five Top 10s with 48 laps led while posting zero DNFs. A.J. Allmendinger ($7,100) is another great value, formerly racing open-wheel at Indy. He has learned quickly in the stock cars at Indy, resulting in an 18.7 AFP in seven career starts with a Top 10, four Top 20s and four laps led. As a driver in one of your final spots in DraftKings and NASCAR’s Fantasy Live, he is a value with a ton of upside.
Kyle Larson ($8,600) isn’t as great a value anymore, as his DFS salary continues to creep up due to good results on track. He is fresh off a dirt win at Eldora Wednesday night, now sets his sights on The Brickyard. Larson has made just two starts at Indy, but they’ve both been very good memories. He has rolled to seventh- and ninth-place finishes, leading five laps. He has been pushing hard for that first-career Sprint Cup Series win this season, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Ganassi Target No. 42 in Victory Lane this weekend.
Rounding out the bargain bin, Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle ($7,300) is on a hot streak with three straight Top 10s, including a fifth-place showing in Loudon last week. In 13 career runs in Indy he has three Top 5s and six Top 10s, so there is value in the No. 16. Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman ($7,900) also always seems to be forgotten these days, too, but he has been running hot lately, too. He was seventh at New Hampshire, also a flat track, last week and he is 13th or better in eight of his past nine starts, with Top 10s in three of the past four. He has won at Indy before, and has 11 Top 20s with a 16.8 AFP in 15 career tries.
NASCAR FANTASY LINEUPS FOR INDIANAPOLIS
|No.||Driver||DraftKings Salary||No.||Driver||Fantasy Live Salary||No.||Yahoo! Sports Driver|
|1||Jimmie Johnson||$9,700||1||Jeff Gordon||$25.00||1||Jimmie Johnson|
|2||Jeff Gordon||$8,800||2||Kyle Larson||$22.00||2||Kyle Larson|
|3||Kyle Larson||$8,600||3||Kasey Kahne||$21.00||3||Tony Stewart|
|4||Tony Stewart||$8,400||4||A.J. Allmendinger||$15.25||4||Jeff Gordon|
|5||Jamie McMurray||$7,400||5||Tony Stewart||$14.75|