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IndyCar

FANTASY PICK BREAKDOWN: St. Petersburg

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For several years now, the Verizon IndyCar Series website has offered a fantasy league, similar to those provided by NASCAR and several other sports, allowing fans to compete for cash and prizes. As the first green flag of the season is fast approaching at Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, yours truly has taken a head-first dive right into the fun.      

Like most leagues, there is no fee to enter, all that is required is basic information and a contact number if you are indeed a winner at the end of the year. All finished? Okay, let’s get to the fun stuff.

For each of the 17 races on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, you must pick the four drivers who you believe will achieve the best result when the race is over. However, in this game, there is a catch. You are limited to a budget to only 100 fantasy dollars, and with every driver set at a certain value, which can fluctuate up or down during the season based on performance, you are forced to strategize on which legal quartet of drivers will garner the most points. Now for the St. Pete road course, filling your roster with those pilots that can handle left and right turns swiftly is a good place to start and here’s how I have my current roster setup to tackle the combination of public roads and airport runways.

Based on their performances driving for Team Penske in 2016, the lead driver for my team was going to be either 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud or 2014 series champion Will Power. With the Frenchman valued at 36 fantasy dollars and the Australian at just 30 for the season opener, I went with the latter to secure a little more room to take on a higher-valued driver. With my second pick, I used 22 dollars on my remaining budget to add Dale Coyne Racing’s newest driver Sebastien Bourdais.

I have to admit, I am intrigued by what a bolstered DCR squad and the multi-time ChampCar World Series title holder can offer in 2017, and at a reduced value, I felt he was worth the risk. The same strategy play was also behind my selection of A.J. Foyt Racing’s Conor Daly. Daly is not known as a strong qualifier on the IndyCar circuit; however, last year he showed that he can play the off-sequence pit strategy exceptionally well, meaning a poor effort in Saturday qualifying could be wiped clean by the finish on Sunday.

With those three drivers taken, I had 30 fantasy dollars left in my 100 dollar maximum budget, enough to add a second Team Penske driver to my team in the form of Josef Newgarden. While joining a top team can be a daunting task for some, the early returns from preseason testing at Sebring seems to indicate that the Tennessee-native is up for the challenge.

Stay tuned to PopularSpeed.com every race weekend, for my team selections and if you are interested in challenging yours truly, join for free now at IndyCar.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad. A major follower of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Matt has attended six previous Indianapolis 500s and rates Tony Kanaan's long awaited victory in the 2013 edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as his favorite memory. Outside of following auto racing, Matt is an avid fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish athletics program and can often be seen at home games throughout the season or running the audio controls on several ND-related radio programs. A native of Springboro, Ohio, Matt now resides in Mishawaka, Indiana.