Fantasy Update: Penske way pays off at Indianapolis

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Fantasy Update: Penske way pays off at Indianapolis
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With three road-course races in the books this season, we‘ve begun to see trends on such tracks. Some of those include first-time winners, Chase Elliott remaining fast and Toyotas continuing to struggle. And wouldn‘t you know, after practice and qualifying for Sunday‘s Verizon 200 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, all of those remained evident, highlighted by Tyler Reddick‘s pole-winning run.

Dustin Albino‘s race-day lineup:
Starter 1: Chase Elliott
Starter 2: Austin Cindric
Starter 3: Tyler Reddick
Starter 4: Chase Briscoe
Starter 5: AJ Allmendinger
Garage pick: Daniel Suárez

NEXT IN LINE: Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell.

To the rear (as reported by NASCAR): No. 51 (Unapproved Adjustments), No. 10 (Engine Change).

RELATED: Indianapolis odds | Practice/qualifying report

RISING: While neither Joey Logano nor Kyle Busch made my lineup — or even my next four in line — it should be noted that both drivers had strong Saturdays. In the Next Gen era, Logano has a best finish of 17th in three road-course events. Meanwhile, Busch has an average result of 19th. Both made the final round of qualifying and will start fifth and 10th, respectively.

Quietly, Ryan Blaney is an underrated road-course driver, despite being in the right place at the right time in the inaugural event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. The No. 12 Ford was third quickest in practice and will take the green flag from sixth. And after a dismal finish last week at Pocono, Blaney needs points.

FALLING: While Elliott will start eighth, the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports brigade was nearly nonexistent in qualifying. Kyle Larson was the next best in show at 22nd, with William Byron in 23rd. Alex Bowman‘s two months of struggles continued, and he will line up 28th.

For years, Martin Truex Jr. was almost guaranteed to earn a top-five finish when going to a road course. However, the Next Gen car hasn‘t been kind to the No. 19 team when turning left and right — just one top 10. Saturday at Indy wasn‘t much better, with Truex turning the 19th-best lap in practice and lining up 25th.

FEATURED MATCHUPS:

Denny Hamlin vs. Ross Chastain
What a lovely pairing this week; these two are good friends. Ha! Given Chastain is one of three drivers in the Cup field to have top 10s in all three road-course races this season, he‘s the easy choice. Sure, the No. 1 car had a lackluster qualifying run of 21st, but he was still fourth fastest in practice.

Hamlin vs. Chastain: Who wins Indy match? - Powered By PickUp

Chase Elliott vs. Kyle Larson
Even going to the Next Gen car, Elliott and Larson have remained near equal on road courses, finishing second and third, respectively, last time out at Road America. However, Elliott‘s road-course prowess and overall success should not get overlooked. Plus, he has a 14-position buffer on Larson to start the race.

Elliott vs. Larson: Who wins Indy match? - Powered By PickUp

Martin Truex Jr. vs. Chase Briscoe
If Briscoe can keep all four tires on the course and not cut the racing surface — easier said than done, as multiple drivers missed corners in practice — he will be the layup choice this weekend. In fact, it shouldn‘t surprise anyone if the No. 14 goes back to Victory Lane and parks on The Yard of Bricks.

Truex Jr. vs. Briscoe: Who wins Indy match? - Powered By PickUp

Tyler Reddick vs. Ryan Blaney
Since moving to the Cup Series, Reddick has improved greatly on road courses, and is the most recent winner on one at Road America in early July. The No. 8 Chevrolet also won the pole by two-and-a-half tenths of a second. While Blaney is expected to be competitive, Reddick could win.

Blaney vs. Reddick: Who wins Indy match? - Powered By PickUp