Iowa's bullring doesn't make driver picks any easier


(Sign up for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone and make your driver selections for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway here.)

If there’s one word that’s defined the Verizon IndyCar Series season so far, it would have to be “inconsistency.” That’s good for racing – wheel-to-wheel competitiveness – but bad for fantasy picks. There’s been a bit too much luck and not enough sample size to really figure out the patterns that we’ll likely see by the end of the season.

After a hectic race weekend at Road America, the shift back to the smaller oval at Iowa Speedway isn’t going to help make things predictable this week for the #INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone. Things can go wrong quickly, with cars collected that could have put up big fantasy points. In races like this, there’s an argument that you’re just rolling the dice. But if most are, finding even a slight advantage might help you pull ahead when others come up wrong.

The best way to avoid the wrecks is to be in front. That means qualifying is as important at the Iowa Corn 300 as it was on a more technical road course. When Scott Dixon hasn’t been flying through the air this season, he’s been at the front consistently for Chip Ganassi Racing. There’s no reason to think he won’t do that again at a track built for his kind of smooth, easy racing. At $33, he’s expensive, but he’s likely the only driver over $25 that offers any kind of consistency.

I’m also taking another Ganassi car, with Tony Kanaan at $24. Kanaan came out of the last oval (Texas last month) with some questions, so I’d expect the vet driver to be a bit smoother and a bit less aggressive this time around. He can stay out of trouble and stay toward the front.

The Team Penske drivers are all a bit overpriced given their mixed results. Simon Pagenaud showed signs of returning to form at Road America, but the ovals haven’t been great for him. Helio Castroneves has been good, but with each priced at $32, I’ll pass and slide down. Same with Will Power and Josef Newgarden at $29 apiece. Team Penske has been at the front a lot, but seldom the same car week after week. If you’d like to roll the dice with one of them, feel free.

James Hinchcliffe has run well in many races this season, but not long. His engine problems and some wrecks have pushed him back, but that’s pushed his price down. A bit of luck puts him at the top and at $23, I like the value. Pushing even a buck up leaves few options for the fourth driver. While no one is really “due,” Hinch’s results haven’t matched up with the quality.

My final driver for the week is a tough one. Max Chilton ($19) would be a third Ganassi pick, but I’ll spend the full remaining $20 and go with oval specialist Ed Carpenter. He’s been fast there and was running well at Texas before getting caught up in the big crash.

Dixon, Kanaan, Hinchcliffe and Carpenter make up my team this week. What’s yours?

From the fans