Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview: Brickyard 400

by Eric McClung on July 25, 2013 @ 12:06:35 PDT


Since 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the torchbearer for motorsports. Everything about the layout of the track is a challenge, no matter what type of race car is used. IMS features long straightaways that allow the driver to run wide open coming off Turns 2 and 4. The lack of banking makes turning and rolling through the corners very difficult. A successful combination of lifting off the gas and braking will aid a driver in carrying that momentum through the short chutes on each end of the track and maintain speed. Executing this skill lap after lap makes passing a very difficult task, so a good starting position makes for a much easier day.

Practice sessions: Friday, July 26, at 11:35 a.m. ET, Saturday, July 27, at 9:00 a.m. EDT
Qualifying: Saturday, July 27, at 2:10 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, July 28, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Speedway, Ind.
Shape: Rectangular Oval
Length: 2.5 miles
Laps: 160
Turns 1-4: 9 degrees
Front stretch: 0 degrees
Back stretch: 0 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

Kyle Busch | No. 18 M&M's Red-White-Blue M-Prove America Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Jeff Gordon
Don't sleep on the vet

Last year saw Busch qualify well at Indianapolis for the first time, which helped him to a record a career best average running position of fourth and finish as the runner-up. In eight career trips to the Brickyard, Busch has notched six top-10s, including one each of the last three years. Busch currently leads the series with an average starting position of 5.9 and has scored three poles. Over his last nine starts, Busch has finished sixth or better on six occasions and was runner-up two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Safety Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

The only driver with an active streak of five consecutive top-10s at Indy is Biffle. In three of the last four years, he's spent more than 99 percent of the laps running in the top 15. This season Biffle has finished 17th or better in seven of the last nine races, highlighted by a victory at Michigan International Speedway one week after a runner-up performance at Pocono Raceway, the only other relativity flat 2.5-mile track on the schedule.

Brad Keselowski | No. 2 Miller Lite Ford | Penske Championship Racing

Keselowski has finished ninth at the Brickyard each of the last two years with an average of 19.5 laps led. After finishing outside of the top 20 in three consecutive races, the Blue Deuce landed the pole position two weeks ago at Loudon, led 14 laps and finished inside the top five. At Pocono, Keselowski held an average running position of seventh but finished 16th after a driver mistake in the tunnel turn with 24 laps to go.

Jeff Gordon | No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Since 2007, Gordon has landed four top-fives in six trips to the Brickyard. Each of the last two years have seen him match a career best average running position of fifth. Despite five DNFs, Gordon has quietly risen to 11th in points thanks to nine finishes inside the top 15 over his last dozen races.

Tony Stewart | No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Stewart has finished 10th or better in seven of the last eight Indy races with a pair of victories from 2005 and 2007. His last seven races of the season have yielded three finishes of 20th or worse but top-fives in the other four. One of those better runs came at Pocono, where Smoke finished fourth and spent 95.6 percent of the race running in the top 15.

Jamie McMurray | No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet | Chip Ganassi Racing

Over his last four starts, McMurray won the pole at Sonoma Raceway, finished as the runner-up at Kentucky Speedway, seventh at Daytona International Raceway and was 12th two weeks ago at Loudon. He also recently placed a respectable 13th at Pocono. Jamie Mac captured the 2010 Brickyard 400 and returned with a top-five the following year. However, McMurray was a non-factor for the 2012 event, pitting very early and never getting back into contention.

Ryan Newman | No. 39 Quicken Loans/The Smurfs Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Prior to crashing two weeks ago at NHMS, Newman had recorded five consecutive finishes inside the top 20. At the Brickyard, he's seen his average running position improve drastically each of the last three years, placing seventh a year ago after running 12th. Newman recently landed a season high finish of fifth at Pocono.

Mark Martin | No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Over the last eight years, Martin has finished 11th or better in each trip to Indy. However, it's been a rough season thus far for the part-timer with just one top-10 finish over his last six appearances. Martin is returning after taking the last four races off and has seen his No. 55 team score a top-five at Daytona and a victory at Loudon with two different drivers.

Temper your expectations

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Fastenal Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

In eight career Brickyard starts, Edwards has only managed to record an average running position better than 15th on two occasions. He qualified on the outside pole last year but developed an issue at the onset of the race and was a non-factor. Edwards is having a fine season, already doubling the amount of top-five finishes he accumulated all of last year, but he has yet to show much consistency on this track.

Paul Menard | No. 27 Menards/Duracell Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Menard's lone career victory in the Cup Series came in the 2011 Brickyard 400 thanks, in part, to some great fuel mileage. He actually held a slightly better average running position and spent a lot more time running in the top 15 during last year's 14th-place result. This season, Menard has gone 11 races without a top-10 finish, so be sure you don't overvalue his Brickyard victory.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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