Fantasy NASCAR picks for Indianapolis

The Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. While the season-opening Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year, Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 isn't far behind.

Although the Cup Series has only been coming to Indianapolis since 1994, the track is known throughout the world as one of the most famous venues in auto racing. All-time greats like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Dale Earnhardt have all been to victory lane at The Brickyard. In fact, the track has been a proving ground of sorts for champions in the Cup Series, as 15 of the 20 races being won by drivers that have also won series titles.

From a fantasy perspective, the fact that the best drivers in the series have excelled at Indianapolis shouldn't be ignored. It is no coincidence that Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart are the only drivers with multiple wins at Indy and are also the only active drivers with multiple championships. In fact, the three have combined to win 10 of the last 20 races at Indianapolis and have won a combined 13 series titles. Meanwhile, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray are probably the least accomplished drivers to kiss the bricks. While McMurray just seems to have a knack for winning big races, Menard's victory came via fuel mileage strategy. In other words, don't expect a lot of surprises Sunday. This is a big race, and it brings out the best from the best drivers and the best teams. Be smart with your sleeper picks, and don't be afraid to be a little top heavy with your fantasy lineups.

1. Jeff Gordon, #24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER/AXALTA, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
Gordon (who won the inaugural Cup Series event at Indianapolis)has remained a force at the track throughout his career. His four wins are tied for the most all-time at Indianapolis, and no driver has led more laps at the track than Gordon. Meanwhile, his 8.8 average finish ranks second in the series. Also, in his 20 starts at the track, he has a series-leading 16 Top 10s (including 11 Top 5 finishes).

2. Jimmie Johnson, #48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
>Although he has had a few bad outings at Indianapolis, Johnson has been piling up wins at the track lately. In his last eight starts at Indy, he has four wins and a second-place finish. During the same stretch, no other driver has more than one Top 2 finish at the track.

3. Tony Stewart, #14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS B]
No driver has been more consistent at Indianapolis than the Indiana native. His 7.9 average finish at the track is the best in the series; in 15 starts, he has 11 Top 10s and two wins. Stewart has finished in the Top 10 in his last five starts at Indy, and he has four finishes of sixth or better during the stretch.

4. Kevin Harvick, #4 BUDWEISER/Jimmy Johns, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Harvick is one of the best in the business on big stages, and Sunday's race is one of the biggest of the season. He is a former winner at Indy, and he has come within a restart of winning on two other occasions. Overall, his 10.9 average finish at the track ranks third in the series, and he has finished 11th or better in nine of his 13 starts.

5. Kyle Busch, #18 MARS BRANDS/INTERSTATE BATTERIES, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
He has finished in the Top 10 in seven of his nine starts at Indianapolis, including four straight. In fact, Busch has a 7.5 average finish in his last four starts at the track. For his career, he only has one finish outside the Top 15 at Indy; his 11.6 average finish ranks fourth overall.

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