NASCAR DFS: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Fanduel Preview

Brian Polking

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its annual trip to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard. In addition to being one of the biggest races of the year, it will also be the final race of the regular season. The Cup cars often struggle to navigate the flat, sweeping turns of the rectangular-shaped oval, but the pressure-packed, big-race atmosphere at the most famous track in motorsports should create some drama nonetheless.

When constructing NASCAR DFS lineups at Fanduel this weekend, I think it is all about balance. The scoring system at the site already limits the points awarded for laps led, and 400 miles around this 2.5-mile track adds up to just 160 laps. Throw in the fact that pit strategy often causes the lead to change hands among a few drivers for shorter stretches, and I don't think you need to chase points in the laps led category.

Instead, I plan on trying to fill my lineups with drivers who can compete for Top 10s, prioritizing strong finishes over chasing points in the other categories, but I will make a few exceptions depending on how qualifying plays out. I won't be opposed to paying up for one high-priced dominator, especially if someone like Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick starts up front. I'll also be more aggressive chasing place differential points if a big name starts way in the back.

Make sure to check to back after qualifying for updated picks and lineup strategies, but in the meantime, I've highlighted my favorite NASCAR DFS options at Fanduel for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard.


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Must-Own Drivers

Kyle Busch ($15,500)

The two-time Brickyard winner is by far the most expensive option on the board this weekend, but he could be worth every penny. has been on another level. After all, Busch has led at least 19 laps in four straight races at Indianapolis, leading more than 80 laps led twice and leading 185 more laps than any other driver in that span. I expect to have a lot of one-dominator lineups centered around Busch this weekend.

Kevin Harvick ($13,600)

His combination of reliability and upside at Indianapolis makes him one of the premier options at Fanduel this weekend. Harvick owns a series-leading 5.4 average finish in five starts at the track with Stewart-Haas Racing, leading double-digit laps three times. He is the only driver who has finished in the Top 10 in all five races in that stretch, and he has led the second most laps.

Joey Logano ($12,200)

Consistency counts for a lot in Fanduel's scoring, and since joining Team Penske, Logano has been a steady contender at Indianapolis. In six starts at the track in the No. 22, he has five Top 10 finishes and has led multiple laps four times. Logano's 6.5 average finish in that same stretch is the best in the series.

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Difference Makers and Value Plays

Denny Hamlin ($14,000)

This price tag is a little steep for a driver who hasn't led a ton of laps at Indianapolis, but Hamlin does have a series-best four Top 5s in the last five races here, and he did lead 37 laps in last year's race. He's also been surging in recent weeks, so if there was ever a time for him to dominate at Indy and kiss the bricks, it is this Sunday. Keep in mind as a potential pivot to Kyle Busch.

Brad Keselowski ($13,300)

Keselowski has a win and a second-place finish in his last two starts at Indianapolis, and he has been a steady source of points in the laps led category at the track. He has led laps in each of his last four starts here, leading laps in seven of his nine Indy starts overall and leading 15-plus laps five times. Keselowski has a high enough ceiling to anchor a lineup this weekend.

Erik Jones ($11,300)

As expected, his price tag took a jump following his win at Darlington last weekend, but there is still some upside to be had at this price. Jones led 10 laps in his Brickyard debut in 2017, and he was the runner-up in last year's race. He could contend for the win and lead a chunk of laps in the process, and Jones is still priced a notch below the other frontrunners.

Kurt Busch ($10,700)

He has been a boom-or-bust fantasy option at Indianapolis, but he had one of his best runs at the track last year when he led 19 laps and finished sixth. Busch has also been having a strong debut season for Chip Ganassi Racing, and he currently owns an 11.1 average finish. I don't think this a bad price for a driver with a Top 10 floor and Top 5 upside.

Ryan Newman ($8,300)

Newman knows what it's like to kiss the bricks, but more importantly, he finds a way to deliver solid finishes here almost every time out. He has finished 12th or better in seven of his last eight starts here, posting a 10.8 average finish and scoring the fifth most driver points during that stretch. You won't find a more affordable option with a better track history at Indianapolis.

Chris Buescher ($7,300)

Drivers who are both reliable and affordable will get you paid at Fanduel, and the last time Buescher finished worse than 18th in a Cup race was back at Dover in May, 15 races ago. He has also been solid at Indianapolis, posting a 16.0 average finish and an average place differential of +7.7 spots in three starts. Buescher should be one of the better value picks this weekend, especially if he has a little place differential upside after qualifying.

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,800)

I'm shocked that DiBenedetto is still available for less than $7,000. He is riding a streak of eight straight Top 20 finishes heading into Indianapolis, and his 10.8 average finish during that stretch ranks fifth in the series. DiBenedetto looks like an absolute bargain this weekend.

Paul Menard ($6,500)

His win fuel mileage-aided win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 was a shocking upset, but Menard's consistency at the track may be even more surprising. He has finished 16th or better and completed every lap eight of his last nine starts here, including four straight. This is a great price for a driver who will probably finish in or around the Top 15 Sunday.

Ty Dillon ($6,000)

If you are trying to avoid rolling the dice on a complete punt play, Dillon is probably your cheapest alternative. He has finished 19th and 21st in his two Cup starts at Indianapolis, gaining nine spots in each of those races. If he qualifies outside the Top 25, he should be a relatively safe source of cap relief.

Daniel Hemric ($5,500)

His rookie year has been filled with plenty of bumps in the road, but Hemric has been much better in the second half of the year. He also finished 12th and seventh in the two races at Pocono, the track most often used as a barometer for Indianapolis. He could be a sneaky, cheap source for a Top 15 finish this weekend.

Sleeper Special

Michael McDowell ($4,000)

As far as punt plays go this weekend, I am most likely to gamble of McDowell. He has finished 23rd or better in each of his last three starts at Indianapolis, posting a 19.3 average finish in that stretch. In last year's race, McDowell gained nine spots and finished 17th after gaining six spots and finishing 18th in the 2017 race.

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