Return to Gateway throws 'new' curve into driver selections

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Three to go and things remain very, very close. With three consecutive race weekends before the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to the finale at Sonoma, this middle leg at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis is going to be a tricky one to get a handle on for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone.

First, we must deal with a “new” track. INDYCAR hasn’t run at Gateway for more than a decade and there’s no track like it on the circuit. It’s not a symmetric oval, but designed with two distinct turn complexes like Twin Ring Motegi. Learning the track and adjusting quickly is going to be key, which gives the big teams the advantage of more reps.

Second, we’ve seen a lot of variation not just on the typical road/street/speedway this year. Pocono isn’t like Indy, which isn’t like Gateway, so running well on a speedway doesn’t carry over as it would seem to. Even a smaller oval like Iowa doesn’t give us much usable data.

On a fantasy basis, those big teams should dominate again coming off a confusing performance at Pocono. The Andretti Autosport cars suddenly found speed and consistency, just behind the Team Penske cars. We’d be dumb to not follow this trend.

Let’s start with the Penskes. Like last week, the trick is picking which Penske driver to back. The cost on all is too high to go with two and have a solid four-deep team. Will Power ($30) hasn’t been as consistent as Josef Newgarden ($32) all season, but results can be a bit deceiving. Aside from a couple tough-luck results, Power has been great all season, booking three wins. With a price two bucks less, Power’s my pick.

The Andrettis are cheaper, but picking the best of the bunch here is tougher. Takuma Sato ($24) has been anything but consistent, but neither has Alexander Rossi ($26) or Ryan Hunter-Reay ($25). I’ll take Rossi’s better recent results and hope that the track evens things out for the young and improving driver on ovals.

Now here’s where a choice comes in. Pass on Rossi and take Hunter-Reay, and you can choose Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan, who’s been very good on ovals. I’m actually going to take not just two Andrettis, but three. I’m backing Marco Andretti ($19) as well because there’s simply no down-value driver who has put up consistent results. Ed Jones? This just isn’t his kind of track.

So we end up with one Penske (Power) and three Andrettis (Rossi, Hunter-Reay and Andretti). That uses every dollar of the $100 fantasy cap and maximizes my chance of putting up big points this week. Note that it’s a bit of an upside play this week since crashes hurt the Ed Carpenter Racing performances I banked on last week.

Good luck, good scoring and I’ll see you at The Glen.

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