The Camping World Truck Series has been all over the map to start the season in more ways than one. From the superspeedway of Daytona to the flat track of Las Vegas, then to the 1.5-mile “superspeedway” of newly-configured Atlanta, now to the road course, Circuit of the Americas. COTA is a 3.426-mile Formula 1 road course that features 20 turns. The drivers will turn just 41 laps making dominator points nearly useless. The Trucks made their COTA debut last season in a race that saw Todd Gilliland take the checkered flag. This is a race with the trucks that will feature two Cup Series regulars including Kyle Busch and Alex Bowman and the Truck Series Champion of two years ago (now XFINITY full-time driver) Sheldon Creed. Road-course marks Kaz Grala (finished second in this race last year) and Parker Kligerman (13th-place finish in this race last year and eighth-place finish at the Daytona Road Course in 2020) could also play a factor in this run.
Because this is a road course and there are only 41 laps dominator points are pretty useless and we’ll need to capitalize on place differential points and finishing position which is where finding the drivers that excel at road courses and are in solid enough equipment comes into play. Last years race was uneventful as far as crashes and equipment issues go as all but six trucks finished on the lead lap. The race saw eight different leaders with some substantial place differential movers including Grant Enfinger (started 23rd, finished 4th), Sam Mayer (21st, 6th), Paul Menard (26th, 11th), and Carson Hocevar (17th, 7th). Find the drivers with P.D. available and good road course history. That’s the name of the game this week.
Most comparable tracks: Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
*Note: all pricing is DraftKings focused
Kyle Busch ($13,000), Starting 5th
As usual, when Busch is running a Truck Series race it’s fade at your own risk and that sentiment couldn’t be more accurate in this case at a road course. Busch has never run a Truck race at a road course in his illustrious career but his numbers in XFINITY and Cup settings suggest that he shouldn’t have any trouble regardless of where he starts. Busch comes in as the odds-on favorite to win this race for what it’s worth. In his XFINITY career, Busch has run 17 road-course races with four wins, nine top-fives, and an average finish of 10.6. He won the XFINITY race at COTA last season starting first and leading 35 of the 46 laps. In his Cup career, where the competition is obviously much stiffer Busch has run 41 road courses with four victories, 15 top-fives, and an average finish of 14.3. The former Cup champion finished 10th in the Cup race at COTA with 12 of 54 laps led. If you fade Busch you’re simply hoping he runs into bad luck with a wreck or equipment failure or simply gets outraced for a long portion of this race and doesn’t pay off his salary. For perspective, his salary ($13,000) is relatively lower than we’ve seen in XFINITY or Truck Series settings as that number has gotten as high as the $15,000 range regularly.
Alex Bowman ($10,100), Starting 3rd
Bowman, another Cup regular will jump into a truck for just the third time in his NASCAR career. The path the cup series has been an intriguing one for Bowman who’s seen limited run in the XFINITY Series as well before grabbing a full-time Cup ride early in his career with BK Racing in the 23 car at age 21 before moving to the 7 car for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2015. Fast forward to 2022 Bowman has been racing full time for Hendrick Motorsports for the last four seasons as this is his fifth season with the powerful stable. He’s coming off a Cup victory last week at Atlanta and will be jumping into this number 7 Truck for Spire Motorsports. Spire branched out into the Truck Series this season to run a part-time schedule; Austin Hill ran the truck at Daytona to a top-15 finish. Spire has had a solid Cup program for a while now with Corey LaJoie wheeling the 7 Cup Series car full-time. Back to this race, Bowman has improved greatly in his road course production since moving the Hendrick specifically with four top-10s out of the six road courses last season, including an 8th-place finish at COTA. This is a solid truck, better than what we’ve seen out of the number 7 from previous owners, and with Bowman’s improvement on road courses and as a driver overall, he’s not someone to overlook as a potential top-five or three candidate.
Sheldon Creed ($10,600), Starting on the Pole
The most recent Truck Series graduate making an appearance in this race is Creed who’ll be wheeling the number 20 truck for Young’s Motorsports. The 20 truck has been driven by Matt Mills twice and Danny Bohn once this season with Bohn getting it to an eighth-place finish at Daytona. Spencer Boyd drove this truck in two road courses last year and the results were not good. At all. Hopefully, with Creed, who’s been good on road courses the performance will be better. In three road courses in a truck, last season Creed finished second (Daytona Road), fifth (COTA), and third (Watkins Glen). In 2020 he finished first at the Daytona Road course. Creed will be a high upside play considering that he’s starting on the pole. He’ll likely be a low-owned option because he has no place differential available and can only go backwards. The experience is there even if the truck might not be as good as the number 2 truck we’re used to seeing him but Creed will not be lacking the talent needed in this field, that’s for sure.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,900), Starting 36th
If you were looking for the chalk place differential play look no further than Matty D starting back at 36th in the 25 Rackley truck. After years of full-time Cup driving, DiBenedetto found himself without a ride so he’s running full-time in the Truck series. Last week was a bit of a struggle for him but in the two races prior the veteran has run 10th and seventh. Road courses haven’t been particularly friendly to DiBenedetto over the years but in this situation starting 36th there’s just too much of a floor here, especially when you consider that DiBenedetto had the seventh-best practice run.
Grant Enfinger ($9,300), Starting 16th
Enfinger is a veteran in the Truck Series and has run six road courses in a truck in his career including a fourth-place finish at COTA last season, in a race that he started 23rd by the way. Outside of that success, Enfinger has a seventh-place finish on the Daytona Road Course. He’ll start 16th on Saturday and is coming in with some momentum after a 12th-place finish last week.
Matt Crafton ($8,100), Starting 20th
In his long, illustrious Truck Series career, Crafton has run 11 road courses with four top-fives and seven top-10’s under his belt. COTA was solid for Crafton last year until late when he started fourth and finished 15th. Despite some tough runs in practice and in qualifying, I’m confident that this team will make some adjustments, and Crafton’s experience will lead him to a productive finish.
Chase Purdy ($7,200), Starting 22nd
Purdy is still a little wet behind the ears in this series with just 32 truck races and only two coming on road courses. With that being said there is some risk here but his starting position offers someplace differential if his practice performance translates. Purdy had the ninth-best practice run during his seven laps.
John Hunter Nemechek ($10,400), Starting 11th
Timmy Hill ($5,200), Starting 25th
Tanner Gray ($7,400), Starting 28th
Dean Thompson ($5,500), Starting 33rd