The Checkered Flag – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – NASCAR DFS

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Nascar returns with its annual trip to the Brickyard. One of the Crown Jewels of the Nascar season, everyone wants to “kiss the bricks” after getting that checkered flag at historic Indy. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the more exciting races on the season schedule usually. However, we do have a notable amount of fans in the stands for this one, which everyone in the series is happy about. Passing for the lead can be kinda tough, and usually place differential potential is a bit of a trap. If a driver can finish +10 spots from his starting spot he’s done a great job, excluding any big name drivers who have the equipment to get into the top20 of course, so keep that in mind when building. There’s a few guys who have done well here consistently over the years so let’s take a look at possible dominators and drivers who start farther back then they should finish this race (place differential) 

Dominators: 


Kevin Harvick| 11th| 11,000DK| 14,200FD|

You have to mention Harvick as a top play when it comes to Indy. He has a driver rating nearly 23 points higher then any other driver. I would consider him a favorite here. Starting 11th, he may not get to the lead for a little while, but I think he will. He has a 6 race top10 streak here and led 111 laps last year from the pole. I don’t think he can do that again based on starting 11th, this is actually his worst starting position here over that 6 race streak. But he’s easily one of the best drivers and teams here. So I think you have to have exposure. I expect at top5 finish at worst and makes for a very good anchor to any line, both cash and gpp. 

Joey Logano| 1st| 9200DK| 12,500FD|  

Starting from the pole makes Joey a great dominator play. I expect him to lead most of stage 1. He’s finished top10 7 out of the last 8 races here and was just outside top10 in the other race. He finished 2nd here last year, winning stage 1 in the process. I expect a repeat here, after stage 1 and depending on pit strategies it’s up in the air as what to expect, but he should be near the front basically all race barring a penalty or big mistake on his part. Ford as a company should be the best cars here so I recommend a good amount of exposure in both gpp and cash games. His DK price is very manageable and I think that gives him a slight bump in value over there because of that. Still a fine play for FD as well, albeit a bit expensive. I recommend building lines with him as a core play on either site. 

Denny Hamlin| 6th| 10,100DK| 13,700FD| 

A top10 finisher here in 5 of his last 6 races. He’s actually been top5 in 4 of those races. That continues again this week. There’s a chance he could get the lead in stage 1 If the car is setup well. I like Logano slightly more because of his price tag, but Hamlin is not far behind. Using combos of any of the 3 drivers mentioned so far should have you in a decent spot to be battling for the cash. In both gpp and cash. Hamlin has been the best Toyota in the series this year and is my top play for dominator that isn’t driving a Ford. Even if he doesn’t lead a ton of laps he should still be one of the first 6 cars across the finish line, which he has done 5 out of the last 6 times here. 

Brad Keselowski| 9th| 9800DK| 11,400FD|

The 2018 winner here, and 2nd place in 2017, he has good results here despite wrecking here early last year and finishing 38th. He could be one of the drivers battling for the win at the end. I think this is a solid play for both gpp and cash, excluding last year he had a 4 race streak here leading laps. I could see him starting a new one streak and he’s one of my personal favorites to win this week. Another top play In a Ford. Have exposure. 

Martin Truex Jr.| 8th| 9600DK| 11,800FD| 

The stats are pretty terrible here. This could be one of Truex’s worst tracks. So I will be fading him. He has 3 straight awful finishes here. 27th place being the best over the last 3 Years. His best finish ever is 4th, in 2015. I cant use him. I’m mentioning him here because if I don’t almost everyone will ask me if I like him. So to answer in advance, I don’t. I think there’s much better plays given his lackluster history at this track. 

Kurt Busch| 2nd| 7500DK| 9200FD| 

This is more of a DK play, he’s cheap enough if he could manage to get the lead he could pay off his price tag with bonus points and be cheap enough to allow you flexibility with your builds (like fitting Chris Bell’s hefty salary). Even if he doesn’t get the lead from Logano, if he could manage a top10 for the race he would pay off on DK. Kurt has a checkered history here. With several bad finishes mixed in with a few solid performances. Last year he was 30th. But 2018 he finished 6th. 2017 he was 29th. But 2015 he was 8th. So this has to be considered a gpp play only. He’s so up and down here. But, you can get an idea of the potential if things play out his way tomorrow. 

Kyle Busch| 7th| 10,400DK| 13,000FD|

I’m done playing Kyle Busch. Nothing special here. Only reason I’m mentioning him is to let you know I won’t be playing him. It’s going to take several races of great finishes in a row for me to have any trust in Kyle at all. Highest funded team, highest paid salary to a team as a whole and they are pure trash without practice times. No thanks now, and probably most of the rest of the season. What a joke this team has become. For years I thought Busch was immensely talented as a driver, he’s not nearly as talented as I thought. All teams not being able to practice has proven this team needs them to setup the car. Where as other drivers can use their talent to still be good even if the car isn’t great. Busch isn’t even close to one of the best drivers in this series. He’s 5th-10th place at best and cries on the radio to his team more then anyone. 

Ryan Blaney| 12th| 9400FD| 12,000FD| 

The group favorite is in another good spot this week. He has a 102.9 driver rating here coming in, with 3 solid runs here the last 3 years. In 2017 he wrecked out of the race late, but was very good all race. Last year he had a very good chance to win as well. He has led at least 1 lap here 3 years in a row starting right about the same spot he does this year. He will have to get through Harvick to get the win which isn’t easy at all, but he’s one of the few this year I have faith in to be able to do so. Matching him with Harvick Logano or BradK is a nice setup and one of those combos is probably in the optimal line. 

Place Differential: 


Clint Bowyer| 22nd| 9000DK| 9500FD| 

Too cheap on FD. Clint actually has the 2nd best driver rating here since 2017. (108.2) He has back to back 5th place finishes here. Starting 22nd he’s in a great spot to get you a +10 or more place diff. Making him a top place diff play. Especially on FD where they underpriced him by at least 1k. He’s one of the better plays in my opinion. 

Matt Kenseth| 21st| 7900DK| 7400FD| 

Again, too cheap on FD. Kenseth hasn’t made a write up yet, usually I’m not a huge fan of him week to week. But this is a prime spot based on his history here. 9 out of his last 10 races here he has finished 12th or better. He wrecked out the only race he didn’t finish 12th or better. 5 of the 10 races he’s finished 5th or better. His driver rating is right up there with Blaney in fact. (102.4) He’s older now, and maybe not as good as his history would suggest but you’d gladly take a top15 here for under 8k on both sites. This is one of my favorite plays for tomorrow because his pricing helps you get two dominators and still leaves you in a good spot to finish the build. And he may go a bit overlooked.


Chris Bell| 35th| 11,500DK| 8400FD| 

Another play that is just too cheap on FD. I don’t like him nearly as much on DK because it really effects what else you can do on builds. An interesting setup worth a shot on DK might be using Bell with Kurt Busch. Total gpp obviously, but Kurt’s cheaper price makes Bell easier to fit. If you are making a bunch of lines on DK. I would give that combo a shot. On DK he doesn’t pay off his price just finishing 20th which is about where I see him finishing. He would need to finish 12th or better. Which I doubt.  But 20th or so would easily pay off his FD price. 

Erik Jones| 23rd| 8100DK| 10,600FD| 

Jones is a perfect example of gpp this week. He starts in a good spot. He’s decently cheap and he has mixed results here. He’s wrecked 2 out of the last 3 races here. The race he did finish, he finished 2nd. It’s going to be very hot, which is usually a hinderance on Jones. But the upside is there based on starting spot on price. So I will have some exposure. I think a solid contrarian play to EJones is Kenseth. About the same price, starts about the same spot, but a much more consistent history here. I don’t want to rule Jones pit though, the upside is there. But, there’s telling factors that show you shouldn’t have him on all your lines. This is truly gpp this week. 

William Byron| 18th| 8700DK| 10,000FD| 

Byron is another play along the Jones-Kenseth line of thinking. He’s slightly more and I think that’s based on his 4th place finish here last year. I don’t expect him to be outside the top15 at the end of the race. The 600-800 price increase is manageable, and I would say he’s slightly safer then Jones. I can’t deny I like all 3 though. This price range is going to be critical to some builds, and possible the difference between cashing and non-cashing lines. Going back a little further, William Byron won the Indy xfin race in 2017. There was no shortage of big names in that race. 8 drivers who have spent time in cup were all in that race. So I think this is why Byron is slightly more expensive than counterparts who start just behind him this week. I think he could go overlooked slightly based on that pricing. So of course we should get some exposure if building multiple lines and see if he can work his way into a top10 finish. 

Cole Custer| 30th| 6300DK| 6600FD| 

Another group favorite. Custer finds himself in most write ups because he seems to get the short end of the stick in these random draws for starting spots. As I’m sure you know by now, Custer is no slouch. The rook had two solid performances here in xfin. And being on the same team as Harvick would almost definitely give any rookie a boost. There’s few guys driving today who could teach you more. I don’t think he will finish much higher then 20th. But that would pay off his price. Based on the pricing he makes the write up as a mostly gpp play. The price is cheap enough on FD to get you some big names across the board. I would lean just slightly towards him being a better play on FD. But easily in play on either site. 

Ryan Newman| 14th| 5900DK| 7300FD| 

Newman makes the write up because of that DK pricing. Look, it’s just too cheap based on his extremely consistent history here. Over his last 9 races at Indy, Newman has just 1 race where he didn’t finish 12th or better. Starting 14th there’s not a ton of gpp upside here. But he is a great cash game play on DK. If he were to just stick around the top15 all race he would be pretty close to hitting value. I think very few even consider him which makes him even more intriguing for some builds. The price tag being so cheap gives you some flexibility to fit basically any drivers you want. Those two factors combined is more then enough to deserve a mention, and the history backs up this play. I wouldn’t go heavy on exposure to him. But I would play him. 

Ryan Preece| 36th| 5800DK| 5500FD| 

This would be the gpp alternative to Newman and you could even consider him a alternative to Chris Bell for basically half the price. Last year Preece finished 16th here. A repeat performance, or even just slightly worse, would easily pay off his price tag. This is purely a gpp play. The upside is there. No guarantees he can do that again of course but Preece has been pretty good as of late, over his last 9 races this season his worst finish is 26th place. +10 place diff for that price tag is not bad at all. 

Michael McDowell| 27th| 5700DK| 5500FD| 

McDowell has been a pleasant surprise this year for the most part. He did finish 40th last week completing just 15 laps which I’m sure hurt some builds and may have a few hesitant to go right back to him. Starting 13th, he wasn’t a great play however. Starting 27th is a good spot though. His last 3 races here the worst he’s finished is 18th. The other two races he was 17th. Again, lets go right back here for. If he can match that history and recent form, excluding last week, he would be a good punt play for both cash and gpp games.

Corey Lajoie| 31st| 5500DK| 4800FD| 

There’s better plays on DK. But Lajoie is very cheap on FD at 4800. You can use him as your punt and basically fit anyone you want otherwise. I’m not a huge fan of the play on DK, however Lajoie has been sneaky good as of late. 4 out of his last 5 races this year he’s finished 23rd or better. Last year he was 19th here. So can he make it 5 out of his last 6 races finishing 23rd or better? I think so, and that would pay off the price tag. Especially on FD. 

Chris Buescher| 20th| 6500DK| 7500FD| 

Buescher is intriguing here. There’s not a ton of gpp upside. But he has good history here. In 4 races prior at cup level Buescher has 3 top15 finishes. Based on that and the fact almost no one is going to use him, I wanted to mention him. I’m trying to think outside the box and help you build your player pool for you multi-entry players. I have a feeling he could be the type of play this week that could sneak into some great builds. The gpp upside is not the same that it is for a few others but the contrarian play would be to have some small exposure to Buescher and hope some of those gpp upside plays just don’t pan out. For that reason, he gets a nod at the bottom of the playlist as a out of the box contrarian idea and a low exposure guy to use with an optimizer to round out your player pool. 

Ross Chastain| 32nd| 6400DK| 4500FD|

Ross is in the 77 car this week, it by no means is a powerhouse car. But they usually are reliable as a team. The FD price is very cheap. I like this play as another guy to fill out your player pool. The flexibility he brings on FD makes him intriguing over there even more for those of you who are running a bunch of lines. But he is still a viable play on DK. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ross sitting inside the top25 or slightly better. While that wouldn’t be great on DK, FD is another story. Do not have heavy exposure, but add him to your player pool if you are multi entering contests on FD. And maybe a 1 off shot if you multi enter on DK. 

Favorite plays: 

Dominators-

Harvick. Hamlin. Logano. BradK. Blaney (sneaky) 

Place diff-

Bell (FD). Bowyer. EJones. Custer. Preece. Kenseth (sneaky) 

Cash game-

Newman. McDowell. Byron. Bowyer. Harvick. Hamlin. Kenseth (sneaky)

Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of The Checkered Flag! Make sure to give us a follow on twitter if you haven’t yet already, and stay tuned for more great content headed your way courtesy of your friends at DPA!