In 2009, Juan Pablo Montoya had the Brickyard 400 won. He led 116 of the 160 laps and had a massive lead heading into the final round of pit stops when he was penalized for speeding and ended up finishing 11th. Montoya has been waiting at a chance at redemption since that fateful day, and after topping the charts in the first practice at Indianapolis and ranking third in Happy Hour, it appears his chance could come this weekend. Even if he doesn't win Sunday, Montoya has legitimate top-five potential as a fantasy option, and owners should take advantage.
One driver used to being a top-five fantasy option is Jimmie Johnson, and he didn't disappoint in practice. He posted the best 10-lap average speed in the first session and put down the fourth-fastest lap in Happy Hour. He's also the defending race winner and has won four of the last seven races at Indianapolis. As is the case most weeks, fantasy owners should consider Johnson an elite option in all formats.
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne is also looking like an elite fantasy option this weekend. After posting the fifth-fastest lap in the first practice Saturday, he jumped to second on the charts in Happy Hour and logged the best 10-lap average speed. Kahne has been solid at Indianapolis throughout his career, tallying six top-15s in nine starts. However, he seems primed for one of the best performances at the 2.5-mile oval this weekend, and owners should feel comfortable adding him to rosters in all formats.
Another driver that was flat out impressive on the practice charts was Kurt Busch. He got things started with the second-fastest lap in the opening session and jumped to the top of the charts in Happy Hour. On the flip side, his career numbers at Indianapolis have been very up and down, but with Busch's recent run of success and his practice times, the potential reward is more than worth the risk for fantasy owners.
Kurt's younger brother Kyle also has plenty to offer fantasy owners. He jumped from 11th to sixth on the charts between the first practice and Happy Hour, and his recent results at Indianapolis are very encouraging. Busch has three straight top-10s at the track, including a career-best second-place run in 2012. Overall, he has six top-10s in eight starts, so at the very least he should deliver a useful result for owners.
Fantasy owners should also keep Kevin Harvick in mind when setting their rosters. He is a former winner at Indianapolis, and his 10.3 average finish is the third best in the series. His practice times were also solid as he cracked the top 10 in both sessions Saturday. Throw in his history for winning NASCAR's most prestigious races, and Harvick should be one of the safer fantasy options this weekend.
Last but not least, owners looking to gamble a bit may want to take a chance on Joey Logano. He put together a solid set of practices, cracking the top 15 in both sessions and ranking sixth on the charts in the first practice. Granted, Logano has been hit or miss at Indianapolis, finishing 12th or better twice and 25th or worse twice. That being said, his practice times indicate that one of his better runs could be on tap this weekend, and Logano could provide a top-10 finish for owners willing to take the risk.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
Happy Hour 10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
Don't miss these great reports....