After a day yesterday of racing at COTA from the Trucks and XFINITY Series’, the Circuit of the Americas will host the Cup cars for just the second time ever. The Circuit of the Americas or COTA is a 3.426-mile Formula 1 road course that features 20 turns. The drivers will turn just 68 laps translating to 231.88 miles making dominator points more important than the Truck and XFINITY races but still not something we should run to seek out, specifically the “laps led” metric. Last years race went pretty much how we’d all expected as far as which drivers finished in good position with Chase Elliott winning, Kyle Larson coming in second, and A.J. Allmendinger grabbing a top-10 spot – three excellent road course drivers. The key this week is where these three drivers, and others are starting as they’ll all be starting 10th or further back in the field. More on the strategy we should be seeking out below.
Place differential and finishing position. These two factors are paramount in this race, especially with some of the surprising qualifying positions for Sunday. Elliott, Larson, and Allmendinger; all mentioned above will be starting 12th, 13th, and 20th respectively. Some other notable names include William Byron (24th), Martin Truex, Jr. (17th), and Erik Jones (30th) along with plenty of value options which we’ll mention later. This race last year had a couple of incidents that ended the day for a few cars but other than that this was a pretty clean race. This track is huge with plenty of room to move around so expecting the big wreck or two that we’ve seen to this point isn’t a sound strategy. The question with these next-gen Cup cars is how will they hold up beating and banging around on a road course for over 230 miles? The answer to that is simply “wait and see”.
Most comparable tracks: Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Daytona Road Course, Charlotte ROVAL
*Note: all pricing is DraftKings focused
A.J. Allmendinger ($8,800), Starting 20th
The winner of the XFINITY race here yesterday and known road course ace A.J. Allmendinger will start 20th on Sunday and is priced nearly $2,000 less than what he was yesterday. Dinger started this race seven last year and was rock solid all day getting this car into a fifth-place finish. Allmendinger also got this car into a top-10 spot at Daytona’s Road Course last year and on top of gaining place differential points and likely finishing in the top five, there’s a good chance he’ll find himself leading some laps picking up some extra points.
Chase Elliott ($10,500), Starting 12th
The odds-on favorite to win this race and the winner last year will roll-off 12th on Sunday and I wouldn’t expect him to run outside of the top-10 for long. Outside of Allmendinger, Elliott is the best road course driver in this field considering the talent and equipment at hand. In 19 road course races at the Cup level, Elliott has seven wins and 11 top fives with an average finishing position of eighth.
Kyle Larson ($10,400), Starting 13th
Like his teammate Elliott, Larson is a very good road course driver, not to the level of Allmendinger or Elliott, but still very good. The defending Cup Series champion has three wins and six top-fives in 21 road course races in his Cup career. As I build my lineups I’ll make a conscious effort to get plenty or Elliott and Larson in them, but I’ll be sure to take an either/or approach with them and not have them together in any lineups.
Chase Briscoe ($8,900), Starting 14th
Briscoe will be a driver I have in a ton of tournament lineups and it’s a calculated decision to roster him. First of all, Briscoe has a win this season so the pressure to make the playoffs is gone and he can “just drive”. Secondly, he’s an extremely solid road course driver and his XFINITY success shows that with two wins and three top fives along with an average finishing position of 9.5 in 10 road course attempts. That talent has translated to the Cup series as Briscoe, the driver of the 14 car finished sixth at this very race last year after qualifying in the 20’s. Briscoe has posted three top-10’s in seven Cup series road course races and starting 14th there’s place differential available for a guy who is a solid value to run top-five and even sneak a win in if he gets the right breaks. Briscoe will be in lineups in which I fade Elliott or Larson. I believe one of these three drivers wins this race.
Ty Dillon ($5,100), Starting 33rd
With a ton of “values” or “punts” down in this range, Dillon finds himself in the best equipment out of the bunch and has shown to be able to nurse a car around a road course, specifically, last year finishing in the top 20 in the 96 car, a car inferior to the 42 Petty GMS Motorsports machine. Dillon screams cash-game-play but it would be tough to expect to squeeze a performance that screams “ceiling” out of him.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,700), Starting 17th
William Byron ($9,300), Starting 24th
Kyle Busch ($10,200), Starting 15th
Corey LaJoie ($5,400), Starting 32nd
Andy Lally ($5,200), Starting 39th
Austin Cindric ($9,500), Starting 10th