By: Tanner Watkins
August 23, 2019 | 4:00 PM
Now that we have one practice under our belts ahead of this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, it is time to talk fantasy IndyCar!
My team in our official Open-Wheels league (you can still join here) is clinging to the top ten, so I can promise that you will get my best picks this week – and only the best!
With the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship coming down to the wire, a host of contenders (such as Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon) will be hot picks – but you can’t spend all of your money in one place.
In the official IndyCar Fantasy game presented by Fantrax, it is important to spread your $100 allotment out carefully among four drivers to earn max points. With that being said, let’s take a look at who could make a difference in your fantasy lineup this week!
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske ($33)
It seems that all season, Newgarden has been the most expensive driver in the Fantrax lineup – and that is for good reason. The Tennessee native has been the points leader for all but one round of the 2019 championship, and picking him will cost you a little more than a pretty penny.
Perhaps, though, the investment in Newgarden this week would be worth the 33% of your allotted salary. After all, Josef was the winner in IndyCar’s 2017 return to Gateway Motorsports Park (now named World Wide Technology Raceway) and he picked up a solid top-ten finish in last year’s race.
With just a 30-point lead in the championship (and double points still on the horizon at Laguna Seca), execution this weekend will be key for Newgarden’s 2019 title chase. Look for Josef to be strong again on Saturday night.
Will Power, Team Penske ($29)
Not only is Power the defending winner at Gateway, but the Aussie driver is coming off a strong performance at Pocono last week which saw him grab his first win of 2019.
After being swept up in a Lap 5 crash during the 2017 race in St. Louis, Power was dominant last year with 98 laps led in the new universal aero kit. This is a track that suits his driving style – and it doesn’t hurt that Will has taken a liking to ovals in recent years.
Power is still mathematically alive in the 2019 championship, and if there is any hope for him, he will be gunning for race wins. Will could be an all-or-nothing pick for Saturday night, but I would bet on him finishing well, rather than not finishing at all.
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing ($31)
The track in southwestern Illinois (yes, World Wide Technology Raceway is actually in Madison, Illinois, not St. Louis!) has been kind to Scott Dixon over the three starts he has had here, and Dixie is one of the few drivers in the field who raced here before the track’s 2017 return to the schedule.
In three starts, Dixon has an average starting position of 4.33 and a still-solid finishing average of 6.67. Two of those races ended up in podium finishes, and in total, Dixon has led 223 laps at the short oval. In fact, despite never winning at Gateway, Dixon has led more laps than any other active driver in the series at this track.
Still fighting to catch Newgarden, Rossi and Pagenaud in the title chase, Dixon will almost certainly be a threat on Saturday night.
Conor Daly, Carlin ($20)
It has been a couple years since Daly took part in Gateway’s return to IndyCar in 2017, but the Indiana native showed well and could be a great bargain pick for this weekend.
Two August’s ago, Daly wrestled his ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet to a top-five finish on a long, warm, midwest night. Looking at the team’s performance since 2018, it is incredible to think that any of their drivers could earn a top-five finish without any strategic gimmicks – Daly drove there on pace.
While he now races for Carlin, which has taken its own lumps as an upstart team, Daly has been able to provide some of the company’s best finishes in 2019: two 11th place finishes and a 13th, results only bested by Patricio O’Ward earlier this season.
Again, this is a bargain hunt, but where else can you get this sort of value for $20? Daly should be a hot pick this weekend.
Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport ($23)
While Daly will be the best bargain pick of the weekend (considering his short resume at the track), Zach Veach will fit into the same boat – at just a bit higher price.
Veach was in better equipment than Daly when he picked up the second-best finish of his 2018 rookie season – a fifth-place run at Gateway last summer – but that shouldn’t take away from any confidence that Veach will bring into this weekend.
The young Andretti driver has yet to replicate his first-year success (with just three top-10s on the year) but Gateway has the potential to serve as a springboard into Veach’s 2020 contract year – which will be pivotal for his career.
Colton Herta, Harding Steinbrenner Racing ($21)
I feel like it isn’t a Fantasy IndyCar article without including Colton Herta as a “sleeper” pick. While few would be surprised to see him win this weekend given his talent level, the second-generation driver has simply failed to finish races this season – which prices him at just $21 for this week’s driver salary.
Now I know that I noted above how Daly and Veach could be great bargains considering their pair of top-fives in the last two years at Gateway, I would be more shocked to see them win than Herta on Saturday night. Considering that sentiment, where else on the grid could you get a potential race winner for $21 or less?
Sure, Herta has not had a start at Gateway, and short ovals have not been his forte, but he has finishes of second and third in two Indy Lights starts over the past couple of years and is certainly comfortable at high speeds in these cars.
But take a look at the drivers priced at or below his value and tell me you have a better potential winner in this lot: Daly, Marcus Ericsson, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan or Matheus Leist. The answer? There isn’t a better value. I’ll be picking Herta.
As a matter of fact, here are my picks for this weekend…
Tanner’s Fantasy Picks
1. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing ($31)
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport ($26)
3. Colton Herta, Harding Steinbrenner Racing ($21)
4. Conor Daly, Carlin ($20)
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.