More choices means more options for Indy 500 fantasy picks


(Sign up for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone and make your driver selections for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by Penngrade Motor Oil here.)

It’s the big one. All the prelims and preparations are done. Now the 33 drivers can now get ready to win the one race that will change their lives – the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Of course, it’s not quite life-changing for you, but the rules change for Indy 500 week when it comes to the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone. Instead of four drivers at other Verizon IndyCar Series races, you’re picking 10 this weekend. Instead of 100 bucks to work with, there’s $500 in the salary pool. That makes it harder and easier, all at once. You’re picking almost a third of the field, so even blind luck might win, just the same way that blind luck might get a top driver collected when someone spins coming into Turn 2.

The great fantasy player knows that this isn’t luck, it’s consistency. Finding the right 10 is a tough mix and where you have to take it seriously is in the tail end of the field.

My first few won’t surprise anyone. Scott Dixon looked great all week and took the pole with a solid 232-mph run that looked smooth. He knows how to win at Indy so he’s worth the $75. I’ll take another couple big-dollar guys in Tony Kanaan ($65) and Will Power ($60), given their results. It’s easy to make an argument here for Helio Castroneves, but you can’t have everything.

No Alonso? No, as good as he’s been, I worry how he will react to pit stops, traffic and the rest of the distractions. I think he’ll do well, but I’m not sure of the value at $60.

At the $50 level, give me defending champ Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti. Both Andretti Autosport drivers have been fast and consistent all week with their Hondas, so a bit of luck could put either up at the top with a chance to win.

At $45, Ed Carpenter is a pure bargain. Everyone should have the front-row, hometown guy on their team this week. Add in his teammate, JR Hildebrand, at the same price and toss in Takuma Sato, who’s had chances to win at Indy in the past.

Dropping down to $40, Carlos Munoz has almost won twice, so points for consistency and perhaps being overlooked, given this price.

At the low end, I’ll take Pippa Mann. Yes, she was slow in first-day qualifying, but she showed quick adjustments the next day. She’s also experienced and since she might not be able to race with the cars up front, she’s likely to switch off strategy and let everyone else take themselves out. A win probably isn’t in the cards, but a finish is a great result for the driver and the value.

That’s my 10 drivers for the Indianapolis 500. Don’t let the rules change confuse you and remember that you’re not picking winners. You’re playing for points, so consistency and intelligence will beat dumb luck most of the time.

Then again, it’s Indy. Anything could happen. Enjoy the race!

From the fans