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NASCAR DFS: Crown Royal 400

NASCAR DFS Expert Brian Polking reveals the top drivers to target on DraftKings for the Crown Royal 400 this weekend!

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Crown Royal 400

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One of the most prestigious races of the year is on tap Sunday when the Sprint Cup Series heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal 400. Among the most famous tracks in auto racing, there isn’t a driver that field this weekend who wouldn’t love to take the checkered flag and add their name to the legendary list of winners at The Brickyard.

Not surprisingly, a race this important tends to bring out the best from both the drivers and the teams, and historically, it has been an elite group of drivers that have won at Indianapolis. In fact, 18 of the 22 Cup events here have been won by drivers who have also earned a series championship during their career.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these drivers tend to have the best equipment. Horsepower is critical on Indianapolis’ massive straightaways, and the multi-car, powerhouse organizations have plenty of power under the hood.

When it comes to DFS NASCAR, setting a lineup for Indy can be tricky. Sunday’s race is relatively short when compared to a typical event, and with just 160 laps on tap, the value of the points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories are minimized a bit. Since 2005, only five drivers have led more than 100 total laps at Indianapolis Last weekend at New Hampshire, two drivers led more than 100 laps in the same race.

Finishing position and driver points are going to be important, and trying to take advantage of the place differential category is a must, as well. With that in mind, a balanced approach could have the edge over a top-heavy strategy when it comes to setting lineups this weekend.

Starting positions will be crucial when it comes to determining driver value this weekend, and qualifying is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday. In the meantime, take a closer look at the drivers to keep an eye on in DFS NASCAR heading into Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

High-Priced Drivers

Kevin Harvick ($10,500)

Harvick has been a force in two starts at Indianapolis since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He started on the pole, led 12 laps and finished in the top 10 in 2014, and last season, he led a race-high 75 laps on his way to a third-place finish. Harvick has a history of coming up big on big stages, so don’t be surprised if he is the man to beat this weekend.

Kyle Busch ($10,400)

He is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has finished either first or second in three of his last four starts at Indianapolis. He has also cracked the top 10 in his last six starts here, compiling a series-leading 5.5 average finish and an average place differential of +11.0.

Value Plays

Jeff Gordon ($8,800)

Yes, Gordon spent the first half of the year as a television commentator, but he could certainly make some noise when he fills in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this weekend. Gordon won at Indianapolis for a record fifth time just two years ago, and he has four finishes of seventh or better in his final five starts at the track.

Kyle Larson ($8,600)

While he has only made two starts at Indianapolis, the early returns for Larson are promising. He has recorded top 10 finishes in each of his starts, and the driver rating he has posted would put him second among active drivers. Keep an eye on Larson’s practice times because a true breakout performance at Indianapolis could happen as soon as this weekend.

Ryan Newman ($7,900)

Newman has been rock solid at Indianapolis in recent years, reeling off five straight finishes of 12th or better and winning the 2013 race. During the same stretch, he has an average place differential of +8.0. Newman will become a very appealing mid-priced option, especially in cash games, if he qualifies in the middle of the pack or deeper.

Kasey Kahne ($7,700)

It has been a quiet year for Kahne, which could make him a secret weapon in GPPs this weekend. He always seems to run well at Indianapolis, and he has three finishes of 12th or better in his last four starts here, including two top six runs in his last three. More importantly, he ranks fifth in driver rating, fourth in fastest laps run and second in laps led. Kahne packs some serious upside at an affordable price tag.

Ryan Blaney ($7,500)

He nearly won the XFINITY race at Indianapolis last year, and Blaney more than held his own in his Cup Series debut at the track. He started 30th, but he worked his way to 12th by the time the checkered flag flew. If he qualifies deeper in the field again this weekend, Blaney has proven he can drive through toward the front and cash in on his place differential potential.

Paul Menard ($7,000)

While he did steal a win at Indy in 2011 with the help of fuel mileage, don’t ignore Menard’s overall record at the track. He has four top 15s in his last five starts at the track, and while he won’t contend for another win without a lot of luck, Menard should be a safe source of 30-plus fantasy points if he qualifies in the middle of the pack or deeper.

Sleeper Special

Regan Smith ($5,400)

He hasn’t driven a Cup Series event at Indianapolis since 2012, but Smith did finish third and 18th in his two most-recent starts at the track. Meanwhile, he showed some promise at Pocono earlier this year, a track that has one of its corner modeled after the corners at Indianapolis. Smith started 35th and finished 22nd at Pocono, and if he qualifies outside the top 30 this weekend, he could be worth a flier if you are looking for substantial cap relief.

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