Mike Forbes previews the NASCAR Road Course race at Daytona!!
Here we go again! All three of NASCAR’s series are heading back to Daytona International Speedway for the second race of the 2021 season. This time instead of pack racing we go back to road racing on the infield course.
This will mark the second time that the Cup series runs a point-paying race on this configuration. Last year Chase Elliott beat out Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr to claim the checkered flag.
Just two weeks ago the Cup series kicked off Speedweeks by running the Busch Clash on this same configuration. During that race it was Kyle Busch who won after Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney had a last lap battle for the lead but instead both drivers made contact and spun all but giving the victory to Kyle Busch.
Unlike last week where it seemed like virtually any driver who was not involved in a crash had a chance to claim the checkered flag, this race seems like there are a strong group of favorites and it seems like the winner will be one of three or four drivers.
The layout of the road course consists of fourteen turns. Most of the passing will be done in turns three and five as well as the bus stop on the backstretch and the chicane coming to the start/finish line.
Road courses have gained a ton of popularity the past couple years as the racing on these tracks has gotten better and better. It used to be there were a couple of guys who were really good and then some teams would bring in road course ringers to compete in the field.
Nowadays drivers are more competitive due to simulator time as well as the focus on these tracks in the Xfinity and Truck series schedules. In addition, NASCAR has added new stops on the cup series schedule as well.
So let’s start by discussing Chase Elliott. The defending champion is the odds-on favorite anytime the series visits a road course. His five victories in eight starts are mind-blowing. When it comes to favorites to win, I believe you have to place a bet on him no matter the odds. When if comes to DFS there are a couple things we need to look at. The first is that Chase is on the pole for Sunday’s race, which means that we will not get the points for cars passed. There is literally nowhere for him to go but backwards in terms of finishing position. His current salary on DraftKings is $10,700, which means we are giving up a lot of salary to put him at the top of the lineup. In order for him to pay off we need Chase to finish in the top three. Barring any unforeseen events like we saw on the last lap of the Clash a top three for Chase seems like a given.
Next lets discuss the only driver who would cost us more than Chase Elliott. That driver is Martin Truex Jr. At $11,000 Martin is the highest priced driver in the field. He is also the only driver with a better average finishing than Chase on road courses at 4.63. He also battled from the back to the front multiple times in the Clash. He very well may have won the race if not for his spin shortly after passing teammate Denny Hamlin for the lead. The bonus for Truex is that he starts 19th in the field. He only costs $300 more than Chase and he also is very likely to finish in the top three. That makes Martin a better value for DFS than Chase. If you are only looking for who will win I would put Chase ahead.
Another Joe Gibbs driver who I believe has a chance to win is Denny Hamlin. Denny was really strong in the Clash and finished 2nd last year on this layout. Denny has yet to win on a road course, but he is getting better and better with each start. Denny will start fourth on Sunday and when all is said and done, I expect him to finish no lower than the top five.
Kyle Busch is going to get some play this weekend due to his victory two weeks ago. The thing is Kyle hasn’t been great on road courses in his career. I do not think there is a better driver on ovals than Kyle in terms of pure talent. I believe he wants to bring that success to road courses so his success in the Clash could be a precursor to what we see Sunday. The issue I have is he is $10,000 right now and based on past performance that is way too much for him. He starts 14th so that makes it a little easier to understand but I personally think anything over $9000 is too much.
Ryan Blaney has a victory on a road course. He was in position to win the Clash until the final turn when Chase Elliott spun him. His average finish is 12.38 on road courses but I really liked what I saw in the Clash. Ryan is $10,400 on DraftKings and I believe you have to be very strategic in your lineup builds to have two drivers over $10,000 and still cash this week.
A driver who is making a return to the Cup series is A.J. Allmendinger. When I mentioned road course ringers earlier this is the type of driver I was referring to. Allmendinger used to run in the Cup series but now spends his time racing in the Xfinity series. He came from open wheel racing and has a ton of experience on road courses. To tell you just how good he is on these tracks A.J. is currently at $10,200. That is higher than Cup series champions Kyle Busch, Brad Kesolowski, and Kevin Harvick. Allmendinger also is starting in 34th. That means he doesn’t need to finish in the top five to pay off. If he does which is very possible than we have a huge value on our hands. I personally wish he was closer to $9000 to feel good about using him but I really do like him this weekend.
A couple drivers starting in the back that I like for value include Alex Bowman who starts 36th and cost $9,000, Erik Jones starting 37th and costs $7,800. Matt DiBenedetto is a solid value starting 32nd and only costs $8,100.
Here are my rankings for Sunday.
- Chase Elliott ($10,700)
- Martin Truex Jr ($11,000)
- Denny Hamlin ($9,800)
- Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
- Brad Kesolowski ($9,600)
- A.J. Allmendinger ($10,200)
- Kyle Busch ($10,000)
- Alex Bowman ($9,000)
- Joey Logano ($9,400)
- Kevin Harvick ($9,200)
- Kurt Busch ($8,600)
- Kyle Larson ($8,300)
- Aric Almirola ($7,900)
- Erik Jones ($7,800)
- Christopher Bell ($7,700)
- Austin Dillon ($6,700)
- Chase Briscoe ($8,400)
- Matt DiBenedetto ($8,100)
- William Byron ($8,800)
- Bubba Wallace ($6,300)
- Michael McDowell ($6,800)
- Ryan Newman ($7,300)
- Cole Custer ($7,000)
- Ross Chastain ($6,500)
- Tyler Reddick ($7,500)
- Anthony Alfredo ($5,900)
- Corey LaJoie ($5,000)
- Chris Buescher ($7,200)
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr ($6,100)
- Daniel Suarez ($5,700_
- Ty Dillon ($5,600)
- Ryan Preece ($5,300)
- Timmy Hill ($5,100)
- Justin Haley ($5,400)
- Quin Houff ($4,600)
- James Davison ($5,200)
- Josh Bilicki ($4,900)
- Garrett Smithley ($4,500)
- Cody Ware ($4,700)
- Scott Heckert ($4,800)
For my ideal lineup build I am going to start with Martin Truex Jr. For the reasons I stated above I like Martin over Chase but either should be at the top.
Next, I am going with AJ Allmendiner. I don’t love his price but I do love the upside and with him starting in the back there is a lot of value here.
From here the next two spots you can fill in with a bunch of guys from $9000-$7,800. I like Matt DiBenedetto and Erik Jones.
That only leaves $12,900 for the final two spots. Tyler Reddick has a salary of $7,500 and with an average finish of 15th on road courses I like where he starts back in 24th.
Finally, I am going with Timmy Hill. The fact is he starts dead last in the race Sunday. He is racing in the truck series this weekend, which will give him a leg up on the competition. I don’t think he wows us with finish Sunday but if he can get in the top 25 there is a lot of value to be had.
My lineup is top loaded. As I said in the beginning this is not a race where a long shot comes out of nowhere to win. We know who is going to be battling for the win and we have to capitalize on this. If you do not want to start guys like Timmy Hill and Tyler Reddick, you can Joey Logano and or Kurt Busch in the 2nd and 3rd spots.
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