Redemption in Motown motivates Detroit fantasy picks

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Maybe it’s because I listened to Bob Marley earlier today, but when I “hired” the four drivers for my NTT IndyCar Series Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone for this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, a common theme of redemption came to the forefront. It could also be that all four drivers have past results that point toward a solid weekend in Motown.

Alexander Rossi ($30) will be searching for atonement after he led 46 laps in the second race of the Detroit doubleheader last year. A Turn 3 lock-up while leading with seven laps remaining sent him to pit road with a shredded left front tire and a disappointing 12th-place finish.

“We're really excited to get back to work in Detroit and carry the momentum forward from a strong race last weekend,” said Rossi, who finished second in the Indy 500 on May 26. “We have some unfinished business here based on Race 2 last year, and we will be looking to get two strong results to hopefully leave here in the lead of the championship."

The Nevada City, California, native dominated on the streets of Long Beach in April, one of the two street circuits that precede the Detroit on the schedule. He has scored the second-most street-course points so far in 2019, and his career average finish of 8.2 in Belle Isle Park doubleheaders trails only Scott Dixon’s 7.1.

I absolutely considered choosing Dixon, but the winner of Dual 1 last year was too pricey ($30) to leave me with enough options for the final three members of my team.

I did stick with Chip Ganassi Racing for the second driver seeking redemption. Felix Rosenqvist ($23) made an untimely mistake in qualifying at his last street-course event, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, wiping out a trip to the Firestone Fast Six.

The Swede has scored the sixth-most points in the first two street-course races of the year and had the ninth- (St. Petersburg) and sixth-quickest (Long Beach) race laps. Rosenqvist has street-course wins in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Formula E, FIA Formula European Championship and the Asian Formula Renault Championship.

Graham Rahal ($24) heads to the Motor City in search of absolution from a mistake in the first Detroit race in 2018. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing veteran threw away a likely podium on cold tires on an out lap in Turn 13.

Rahal has scored the seventh-most points in the pair of street-course races this year, but that total could be much higher. A tire puncture forced Rahal to pit an extra time in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and a late blocking penalty in Long Beach cost him three points and a podium.

The 30-year-old won twice on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street course in 2017. His 9.3 average finishing position on the circuit is fourth best and includes four podiums.

Sebastien Bourdais ($22) and Dale Coyne Racing have both had success on Belle Isle in the past, but not together; that is something they will be looking to redress this weekend. After missing the 2016 event due to a massive Indianapolis 500 qualifying shunt, the No. 18 SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda finished the pair of races in 2018 in a mediocre 13th and disappointing 21st.

Bourdais won twice on the island, in 2015 and 2016, and has the third-best finishing average of active drivers in all doubleheader races. Mike Conway won for Dale Coyne Racing at Detroit in 2013, and the team has three podiums overall.

All four of my drivers this week are also looking to erase the memory of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge from their minds. Yes, Rossi finished second, but he had a car good enough to win. Rosenqvist was on his way to an impressive top-10 finish when his day come to a premature end after he was caught up in a mess started when Rahal and Bourdais – who each had possible top-five runs going – made contact and ended up in the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier.

My roster came in at $99, a slim dollar under the maximum. I am at a disadvantage in writing this ahead of time because I only get to pick one team for the weekend. As a player, you can select a different four-driver set for each race.

Make sure to choose yours at fantasy.indycar.com before the green flag waves before each race this weekend, at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET both Saturday and Sunday. Even if you haven't’ joined the fun yet, sign up and play. There are still great weekly prizes to be won.

From the fans