Time to fire back up for fantasy challenge stretch run

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(Sign up for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone and make your driver selections for the ABC Supply 500 here.)

Welcome back from INDYCAR’s summer break. What better way to get back into the rush to a fantasy championship than the action-packed, how-many-wide craziness that is Pocono Raceway and the ABC Supply 500. The triangular track makes for interesting racing and with the title race very much in play, things could get even more unpredictable.

As you know from my past selections for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone, good fantasy play is about moving away from unpredictability. There’s always an element of it, but we want good value that is consistent and predictable maximize the chances of winning.

This week, the pricing gods have smiled on us, but that only makes things more complicated. The usual suspects are priced in the $30 range, so we must pick wisely with our high-dollar guys. For me, it’s relatively easy — Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden ($32) and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon ($30).

Newgarden is pushing for a championship in his first year with Penske. He’s looked dominant in the last two races this season and he has three top-five finishes at Pocono in four races. I think he’s in line for a third straight win to help his trophy chase.

There’s an argument for any of the Team Penske drivers this week, especially given the track and since Simon Pagenaud ($31), Helio Castroneves ($29) and Will Power ($29) are each a bit cheaper than Newgarden. If you go that way, I wouldn’t argue a bit.

Dixon has been leading Ganassi all season long, so his price has been pretty easy money, aside from the times he’s been taken out by accident. Even a bad week for Dixon is usually a top-five finish, so he’s almost a lock for any lineup. Boring? Maybe, but I’ll take a bit of boring when I’m putting a fantasy team together. Dixon has won at Pocono before. If he can stay out of trouble early, he has a chance to do it again.

Where I feel the real value lies this week is down the line. I’m going all in on Ed Carpenter Racing. The team has run especially well on ovals. With owner/driver Ed Carpenter ($19) and JR Hildebrand ($17) priced so low, taking both allows a couple high-dollar picks with a few bucks to spare in the $100 salary cap for the four drivers.

While the ECR cars haven’t been able to put it into victory lane yet this season, they’ve been consistently fast. Carpenter is an oval ringer and Hildebrand has been more consistent this year. He’s in the car more, so that’s part of it. Hildebrand almost brought it home at Iowa, losing out to a dominant Castroneves.

This is the first of three straight weeks of hot racing coming up, starting with what should be a great race in Pocono. Add in the excitement of the amazing new universal aero kit for next season and INDYCAR is putting itself in a great position for the future.

Enjoy a new golden era and hopefully a fantasy win. Good luck!

From the fans