Here are my mid-week driver rankings for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis. I compiled them by crunching:
- The loop data for the past 15 Sprint Cup races (excluding Daytona, Talladega and Sonoma);
- the loop data for the past four races (excluding Daytona, Talladega and Sonoma);
- the loop data for the past four races at Indy;
- the loop data for the past eight races at the other tracks in the Flats track group (i.e., Martinsville, Phoenix, New Hampshire, Pocono and Richmond);
- the practice and qualifying data for the past four races at Indy; and
- the practice and qualifying data for past eight races at the aforementioned Flats.
- Jimmie Johnson
- Denny Hamlin
- Jeff Gordon
- Kasey Kahne
- Greg Biffle
- Mark Martin
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- Kevin Harvick
- Carl Edwards
- Kyle Busch Continue reading
During a late caution, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick opted for two tires. The leader, Juan Pablo Montoya, took four and lost the lead.
The Brickyard 400 is in the books, so it’s time for a quick follow-up on how my top five fared:
- Jimme Johnson: The 48 seemed strong at the very beginning (though not as strong as the 42), but he quickly began slipping backward. Atypically, the 48 team then seemed unable to improve the car no matter what they tried on pit road. Johnson lost time in the pits as they tinkered with the setup, and even went a lap down when they changed the shocks (to no avail—the car still sucked). He finished 22nd.
- Juan Pablo Montoya: The 42 had probably the best car of the day, all day, but during a late caution, Montoya lost his lead when the 42 took four tires and several other cars took two. He then proceeded to overdrive his car attempting to move back to the front, and he eventually crashed out of the race.
- Mark Martin: Martin had a really good car through the early and middle portions of the race, but the 5 seemed to tail off a bit in the race’s latter stages. He finished 11th.
- Jeff Burton: Burton had a good car all day but could never improve it enough to run up front. He brought it home 6th. Continue reading
Jimmie Johnson is the favorite today, but watch out for old man Martin, and ...
The green flag drops for the Brickyard 400 at 1:19 ET today, and I think fantasy NASCAR players and handicappers now enjoy good predictability for the race. In my race preview on Wednesday, I rated predictability “a little above average,” but I think one predictability factor has improved since then.
First, NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all four practices and qualifying at Indianapolis this week, giving fantasy NASCAR players and those handicapping NASCAR a bountiful crop of data to harvest. Weather.com says a bit of rain is falling at Indy early this morning, but that there is little chance of rain come race time. Finally, according to the Goodyear Tire Notes section on Jayski’s Indianapolis Race Info page, the teams are running different tires than they did last year at Indy, but the difference is apparently very slight, so I speculate these new tires haven’t thrown off the teams’ 2009 race notes off that much.
I therefore think we can conclude today’s race predictability is now well above average. Fantasy NASCAR players, don’t run a start-saver driver over a big gun unless they offer very comparable value. Bettors, I think you can take slightly worse odds than normal. Continue reading
Singer Jack Johnson steps into Jimmie's ride Friday at Indianapolis. (Photo Getty Images)
Today at Indy the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in two practices in preparation for Sunday’s race. I’m writing this quick update because Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR players have until early tomorrow morning to lock down their rosters.
In the first practice, it appeared almost all the top-35 teams worked on race-trim setups, and then they all worked on qualifying setups in Practice 2. Many of my early week driver ratings seemed on the money, but a few drivers did force their way into the picture, and a few slipped down a bit.
After watching the telecasts and crunching the speed-chart data, I adjusted my original rankings to come up with this top 12: Continue reading
Jeff Gordon heads in from a practice run last year at Indianapolis. (Photo Getty Images)
After a one-week break, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series picks back up this weekend with the Brickyard 400 at famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indy is a 2.5-mile track with only 9 degrees of banking in the corners, and it’s a pretty symmetrical track (unlike the many d-shaped tracks on the circuit, for instance).
The giant, flat nature of this track typically limits the number of accidents and incidents on the track and pit road, but that same size can also bump up the probability fuel-mileage tactics will come into play. In addition, the series runs at Indy only once a year, so fantasy NASCAR players and handicappers don’t have very current, Indy-specific data to work with, and Indy’s unique design limits how many other tracks we can use to crunch data. Continue reading