2022 Verizon 200 At The Brickyard

The NASCAR Cup Series takes a trip to the Hoosier State for some road course racing. Let’s see who will kiss the bricks in the Verizon 200 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Sunday, July 31 (2:30 pm ET on NBC).

The 2,439-mile racetrack is the fourth of six road courses on the Cup schedule, running clockwise instead of counterclockwise like on ovals. The 14-turn course features a long frontstretch and a straightaway between turns 6 and 7.

Of course, last year’s inaugural Cup event saw the infamous turn 6 curb break apart late in the race, causing multiple top contenders to crash out. Not exactly what IMS wanted its road debut to be known for, but Roger Penske and track officials learned from this and installed a concrete curb in the area.

With just one race run on this layout in Cup, how can you prepare your DraftKings rosters for this weekend’s event?

First, take a look at who’s led laps there, both in Cup and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Also, there’s been three other road courses this season that you can review who finished well and led some laps. But don’t forget about other recent road course races, as drivers who run well then will likely perform this weekend as well.

And be sure to check out practice and qualifying, airing Saturday at 9:35 am ET on USA Network. Whoever is able to make the right pit strategy will likely win the race, which could be a driver who starts in the top five.

Before I move on to my picks for the Indy road course, here are the results from Pocono Raceway:

SalaryDriverDraftKing’s Score
$10,600.00Kyle Busch72.15
$9,000.00Kevin Harvick8.9
$8,300.00Tyler Reddick54.25
$7,900.00Daniel Suarez47.5
$7,200.00Austin Cindric-3.65
$6,800.00Chris Buescher-14.2
$49,800.00Total164.95

On DraftKing’s daily fantasy, disqualifications don’t count for where drivers finish on the racetrack, so Kyle Busch was scored at the runner-up position. But Kevin Harvick, Austin Cindric and Chris Buescher all had trouble during the race, resulting in lower scores. (Had I known ahead of time that Buescher would qualify well, I wouldn’t have played him).

In the $6,000 Quarter Jukebox tournament on DraftKings, three users tied for first, scoring 332.5 fantasy points. They had Busch, Denny Hamlin (scored as the winner), Tyler Reddick, Erik Jones, Michael McDowell and Cole Custer.

As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.

Here are the DraftKings rules for the road this season.

Now, on to my DraftKings picks.

Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this information to make your own.

DraftKings Picks for the 2022 Verizon 200 at the Indy Road Course

Chase Elliott ($10,600)
Career at Indy road: 1 start, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
Average finish at Indy road: 4.0

Once known as mostly a road course ringer, Chase Elliott has shown strength on multiple track types this season, earning four wins on ovals (and a triangle). But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t run well on the road.

Elliott led 26 laps at Sonoma Raceway before coming home eighth. Then at Road America, the No. 9 had quite a battle with Reddick before the No. 8 passed him late. Plus, at the Circuit of the Americas, he was fourth. It’s only a matter of time before the current points leader finds a way to win on a road course.

Daniel Suarez ($9,400)
Career at Indy road: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Indy road: 37.0

Daniel Suarez was one of the drivers who crashed late in last year’s event, so his finish doesn’t reflect how he ran. Instead, look at his performances on road courses this season.

At COTA, Suarez was out front for 15 laps before encountering an issue and finishing 24th.

Then at Sonoma, the No. 99 earned his and Trackhouse Racing Team’s first career win in the Cup Series, leading 47 circuits.

Finally, at Road America, Suarez drove from 17th to fifth — quite admirable, considering how rough the racing has been on road courses this year in the Next Gen cars.

My only hesitation with Suarez is his salary; $9,400 feels awfully steep for someone who was previously $7,000-$8,900 over the last few months. But it could still work out if he earns his fifth-straight top 10.

Austin Cindric ($9,100)
Career at Indy road: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Indy road: 9.0

Austin Cindric has a bit more experience on the Indy road course than some other Cup drivers, as he won the Xfinity race last year. In the Cup event he survived the chaos and brought home a ninth.

This season, the road courses have been some of the strongest for the Daytona 500 winner, as he’s earned top 10s in all three of them. Cindric was eighth at COTA, fifth at Sonoma and seventh at Road America. He showed tenacity at the Sonoma event, as he started way back in 25th place.

Although Cindric’s salary is above $9,000, he just might meet his value if he either qualifies in the 20s and gets a top 10, or qualifies well and leads some laps.

Kevin Harvick ($8,400)
Career at Indy road: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Indy road: 14.0

I know it seems like Kevin Harvick is recommended a lot, but it’s for good reason. In every road course event this year, he finished further from where he qualified. He just missed out on a top 10 at COTA, but at both Sonoma and Road America he gained several positions to finish fourth and 10th, respectively.

That’s seemed to be the case for much of the season, too, including at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway. Harvick was third in the former after starting 18th, and he gained 21 positions in the latter on the way to fourth.

It will be interesting to see how Harvick performs on the much flatter IMS road course, compared to some of the other tracks with different elevations.

Dark Horse Performers

Erik Jones ($7,100)
Career at Indy road: 1 start, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Indy road: 7.0

Erik Jones had quite the race last year, avoiding the carnage and driving to seventh after starting 28th. He had a similar result at COTA earlier this year, advancing 21 spots to ninth place. And at Sonoma, he gained some positions then, too, although he only finished in 22nd.

Last week at Pocono, Jones came in 11th after starting back in 34th, a very strong run for the No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports driver. And at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Jones started 21st and ended seventh.

It’s these kind of runs that can really boost your DraftKings score, since each position gained is another fantasy point. Hopefully Jones will continue to do just that this weekend.

Todd Gilliland ($5,400)
Career on road courses: 3 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish on road courses: 21.7

After I decided on the above drivers, there wasn’t very much salary left over. But you could do worse than Todd Gilliland. I mean, he hasn’t been terrible in his rookie season (although he hasn’t been great, either).

One of his better results was at COTA, when he went from 29th to 16th. Then at Sonoma he was 24th, while at Road America he gained a few positions and finished 25th.

Let’s face it, Gilliland likely won’t earn a top 10 this weekend. But a finish in the teens is not out of the question for the Front Row Motorsports driver.


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