Mike Forbes previews the Toyota Tundra 225 at COTA!!
The Nascar Camping World Truck series is once again primed to take on a new racetrack this weekend as the drivers battle the twenty turn road course near Austin Texas. The 3.4 mile track was purpose built to host Formula One racing but how the heavy stock cars perform on the very technical track is anybody’s guess but it sure will be interesting to watch.
In my track preview article I went over the schedule for the series this weekend that will include practice on Friday and qualifying Saturday before the race. That makes our job building a lineup a little bit tougher this week but, fear not, we have you covered. If that wasn’t enough there will also be eight trucks that do not qualify for this race. In this article we will rank the entire 44 team field so you will want to wait until after qualifying to lock in your lineups to avoid using a driver who misses the race.
With this race being on a new racetrack for all of the series in Nascar we are seeing more drivers race in other series than we usually do. There are also a bunch of racers with much more experience racing in other series that regularly race on these types of road courses.
We have one driver who is coming out of retirement to race this weekend and that is Paul Menard who will be in the 66 truck for ThorSport Racing. If Paul makes the race he is a driver who has been racing for a while on many different race tracks. We have to be paying attention to him as that team is one of the better financed cars in the series. Paul is a guy we want to look for in the middle of our lineup when we end up building it.
Kaz Grala is in the 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet. Remember when Kaz filled in for Austin Dillon last year and took home a top ten in his very first Cup race at the Daytona Road Course? This is a racer who can just get in a vehicle and race. He seems to excel on technical racetracks and that is exactly what most people refer to this track as.
Parker Chase entered in the 51 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He was also in the truck the last time the series ran a road course. Kyle Busch only puts people in his trucks that he feels can compete and win. Parker is no exception. We are going to want to have plenty of Chase in our lineup builds come Saturday.
Michele Abbate will run in the On Point Motorsports Toyota this weekend. She will be one of the very few drivers who have experience racing at COTA as she took 2nd in the Trans AM Series when they raced here. If she can make the race she will certainly be a driver to watch.
Looking at some series regulars Ben Rhoodes who won the first two races of the season including the run on the Daytona road course should be in consideration for the top of our lineups. Last year he finished 14th in Daytona but he was impressive when he jumped on the track this year.
Sheldon Creed had two runs on the Daytona road course in the past year and his average finish is 1.5. That means he finished first last August and second in February. We have to think he will be the favorite to win this weekend again.
If you have been reading my articles all season long you know I have nothing but good things to say about John Hunter Nemechek and the number 4 team. This weekend will be more of the same for me. He finished third in Daytona and he has done nothing but improve since then. You have to ride the hot hand and in this case JH Nemecheck is exactly that.
Matt Crafton has probably the most experience of any regular in the Truck series on road tracks. His time in the series dates back to when there were only a couple races on the schedule. He seems to be a lock for a top ten whenever we come to a track like this. You know he wants to put on a good show for the fans in Austin so we should be looking for him in the number two or three spots in our lineup.
I am going to give my full field rankings but we are going to want to adjust these once we see how practice and qualifying turn out. You are going to want to be on the lookout for updates as the weekend goes on.
Here are the full field rankings
- Sheldon Creed
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Grant Enfinger
- Kaz Grala
- Parker Chase
- Matt Crafton
- Ben Rhodes
- Chandler Smith
- Johnny Sauter
- Zane Smith
- Christian Eckes
- Parker Kligerman
- Austin Hill
- Logan Bearden
- Paul Menard
- Derek Kraus
- Carson Hocevar
- Stewart Friesen
- Todd Gilliand
- Tate Fogelman
- Tanner Gray
- Camden Murphy
- Chase Purdy
- Tyler Ankrum
- Michele Abbate
- John Atwell
- Spencer Boyd
- Bayley Currey
- Brad Gross
- Hailie Deegan
- Jack Wood
- Timothy Peters
- Timmy Hill
- Ryan Truex
- Austin Wayne Self
- Sam Mayer
- Dawson Cram
- Rodger Reuse
- Cory Roper
- Samuel Lecomte
- Lawless Alan
- Jennifer Jo Cobb
- Norm Benning
- The driver of the 33 Reaume Brothers Racing truck is not currently listed.
When we look at how we want to attack our lineup build for Saturday once again we are going to want to see how qualifying works out and who makes this race. Practice is going to be very interesting and we should start to see the cream rise to the top.
There are some drivers who we will want to be invested in however. I mentioned a lot of them earlier in the article. Let’s go over who looks to be good fits in each section of our lineup.
Looking at drivers with salaries $9,000 and above there is a ton of value towards the bottom of that group. Nemechek has the highest listed salary for this race on Draftkings and for good reason based on his results this season. I will never fault you for starting your lineup with Nemechek but for me there are a lot of other value plays at the top.
If we build our lineup right we may be able to slide three drivers who I consider top of the line talent on road courses in and then really have a strong chance at starting our Nascar DFS weekend off right. I love Grala in this race and the fact that he is $9,500 makes him my top play right off the bat.
Chase at $9,100 also seems like a super value based on his past experience and the fact that he is in top equipment. I like Menard but I would stay away from him at $9,600 just because he hasn’t been in a truck in awhile. He has the talent but it may take a little bit to knock the rust off.
Creed at $10.300 isn’t a bad selection based on his past results but if we start with a driver with a five figure salary the bottom of our lineup is going to look real rough.
The $9,000 to $7,500 group has a ton of value in it as well. Parker Kligerman is a great play but the sites seem to have caught on and priced him at $8,900 and that seems a little too high for me unless we find some super value at the bottom of our lineup.
Grant Enfinger at $8,700 is a solid play at the top of this level. Stewart Friesen at $8,100 has the most risk reward in this group which means I love him for tournament plays. Carson Hocevar and his $7,900 price tag is very intriguing and someone I like at this stage.
Derek Kraus has been a surprise this year and I think he will start to get better opportunities as he keeps putting together solid races. His $7,500 dollar price tag is too good to pass up for me this weekend if he looks good in practice. I will be watching his lap times very closely.
Other drivers I like in this price range include Carson Hocevar and his $7,900 price tag as well as the veteran Johnny Sauter at $7,700.
In the bottom half portion of the driver pool there are some value picks but here is where paying attention to qualifying is going to be so important. There are so many drivers who have low price tags and can be real steals if they make the race and qualify decent. Drivers like Abbate at $6,500 figures to be a value if she can make this race.
Timothy Peters and Hailie Deegan at or below $6,000 knowing they will make the race seem like a good value pick even if they struggle a little in the beginning. Tate Fogelman and his $5,500 salary is a good bet if you want to lock in before qualifying as well.
Before we go build our ideal lineup for this race we are going to want to wait until qualifying is over. There will be some drivers who show up at the top that we want to roster and there will be some drivers who are really good who may falter in qualifying. Both of those scenarios are ones we want to exploit. There is also the possibility that some of these races this weekend are affected by weather. Whenever that happens we want to make sure we are using drivers with more experience who know how to handle racing when the track is wet.
Track position is king in road racing. It is harder to get to the front whenever you get put towards the back because there are so many preferred lines that the slower cars will slow you down and the leaders will get stretched out. That is why when we see surprises at the front after qualifying we want to attack them.
Practice for this race will be Friday afternoon and the drivers will qualify Saturday morning. If you can wait to build your lineups until both of these have been completed you will have a leg up on the competition. If you can’t wait then you want to use the sure things as much as possible. That is where using drivers at the bottom like Hailie Deegan and Tanney Gray will be useful knowing they will race no matter what.
We will keep you updated all weekend long with what is happening as Nascar heads to Austin and runs the road course. Sean Engel will have your Xfinity and Cup series breakdown and you can follow us on Twitter at @SeanE247 and @mikejforbes for all the late breaking information leading up to the Green flags.