|12/03/15||The Champion By NHMS Numbers|
|11/20/15||The Championship Four Preview|
|11/13/15||Phoenix: Three To Watch|
|10/30/15||Martinsville: Three To Watch|
|10/18/15||Kansas: Three To Watch|
|10/05/15||Charlotte: Three To Watch|
FANTASY: One Brick at a Time
The foundation is set, the bricks are laid, now it's time to build toward a championship. Some drivers are well on their way, some aren't, and most are in between.
This weekend's race with the ridiculously long name at Indianapolis Motor Speedway creates a level race track (literally) for its competitors to make or break their seasons. It's not an easy track to race, but it's a fair track and one that's been in use for over 100 years. It opened in 1909 and didn't host NASCAR until 1994, but the Sprint Cup Series has returned every year since.
While the drivers only visit the track once per year, there do seem to be some trends when it comes to success at this track. That will make it easier to set the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing lineup this coming weekend.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is completely flat on the straightaways and has four distinct turns banked at nine degrees. It's 2.5 miles around, but the rectangular oval shape means that it's much more about driver ability than the standard superspeedway oval where it's just pedal to the metal with no need to slow for a turn.
As we saw at NHMS, the Gen-6 car is racier than the Car of Tomorrow had been, and it makes for a wild card this weekend at Indy. Since this is the only track of its type on the circuit and the only visit of the season, there will be some unknowns to which the teams much adapt early in the weekend.
Since this track does lean on driver ability, it's suggested to roll out the best of the best this weekend. The length of the track will lead to some separation of the cars, so bad luck will play less of a role than a some 2.5-mile counterparts (like Daytona).
- #14 Tony Stewart - Smoke heads to Indy looking to atone for running out of gas at NHMS. He has been on his typical summer hot streak and leads the field with an 8.2 average finish at IMS.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - He's tied for the most all-time wins at the track with four and has 11 top-fives in 19 starts. He'll need a win this weekend as he's fighting tooth-and-nail to get into the Chase.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - Mr. Five-Time looks to make it five times at Indy. He has four wins in just 11 starts, but do use caution; he's only recorded one other top-10 aside from his four wins.
- #11 Denny Hamlin - Bad luck seems to keep compounding the difficult season for the Hamlin. The good news for fantasy managers is that Yahoo! will probably slot him in the B-list next year, where he'll be an ace. The bad news is that it's about time to write him off as a viable option on the A-list in 2013.
- #1 Jamie McMurray - It's the time of year when managers need to find "other" drivers to save allocations on the big names. McMurray serves that purpose at IMS with five top-10s in 10 starts.
- #16 Greg Biffle - The Biff has a 12.1 average finish at Indy and six top-10s in 10 starts, including each of the last five.
- #18 Kyle Busch - Rinse, lather, repeat what was said about Biffle. Busch has an 11.8 average finish and six top-10s in eight Indy starts.
- #55 Mark Martin - He might not have driven it to victory lane, but the No. 55 is still getting dried off from the winning shower it got there at NHMS. Martin himself has six top-fives in 19 Indy starts, so he gets one in about every three tries.
- #27 Paul Menard - His lone Cup win came at IMS in 2011, but that's his only top-10 in six starts at the track. In fact, he's never led a lap at Indy outside of the 21 he led that day.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - He's proven to be one of the B-list's best options, but with just three top-10s in 13 starts at IMS, this is a week he's better left off the roster.
- #10 Danica Patrick - I have no faith in my opinion, but being as she comes from an IndyCar background, she's made it around this track a few times. Perhaps that makes her a viable choice this week, but she certainly hasn't looked fast in the Cup cars this year. (How's that for an endorsement?)
- #51 AJ Allmendinger - The Dinger highlighted his vast driving ability by leading 23 laps in this year's Indy 500 before ultimately finishing seventh. As I said with Danica, that doesn't necessarily translate to success in a stock car, but he has far more experience at the Cup level than Danica.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - Unless he's a sure thing, I'd shy from using an allocation on Stenhouse. His only race at IMS was a ninth place finish in the Nationwide Series last year, so I'd leave his inexperience off the roster.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.