Daytona two weeks in a row! Daytona opens up for the second race at the newly minted road course. Road course races are always hit or miss in NASCAR; Watkins Glen and Sonoma have long been some of the weakest rated tracks on the NASCAR circuit; the Roval and Daytona RC have changed that outlook.
Every race at these new additions has been entertaining and provides NASCAR fans with a satisfying finish. I think a large part of the love for road courses that NASCAR fans have opened up to is thanks to Chase Elliott’s dominance on them. Elliott has won two of the three Roval races in history and one the first DRC race last season.
Anyone think it’s an odd coincidence that when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was around to dominate Daytona and Talladega, those races were highly sought and road courses – which Jr. was notoriously bad to average at – were despised. Now that Chase Elliott is around and dominating road courses, we’ve seen an uptick in people’s excitement for them. While Elliott is not bad at restrictor-plate racing, he even has a win at Talladega, it’s not his strong suit and the criticism for restrictor-plate races has gone up in recent years.
I now find myself looking forward to the road course, even though I think we all know who the likely winner is expected to be. Or at least which car we’re going to be watching for most of the race.
Favorite: Chase Elliott
Starting on the pole and being as strong as he is at these races, I don’t think anyone can truly go against him. Unless his car has issues, I expect him to be running up front all day. It scares me that we could see pure dominance from start to finish, but these road course races have produced great finishes even when Elliott was dominating in the past so I’m going to hold faith that someone will give him a challenge.
Even if someone rises up to challenge the Right Turn King, I think he has proven he can hold off even those with a faster car and chase down anyone who gets out in front of him. Little to no chance that we don’t at least see Elliott in contention towards the end of the race.
Darke Horse: Alex Bowman
Bowman is coming into the year with the added pressure of needing to become a consistent winning threat, but until he proves he can do that, he remains a dark horse candidate. Bowman is quietly a solid road course driver. I’m sure it helps to have Chase Elliott to grab pointers from, but he consistently finds himself in the top ten at these tracks.
Last year at the DRC he finished 12th, and in his three races at the Roval, he has an average finish of 5th. The #48-team had a great finish last season with Jimmie Johnson finishing 4th at the DRC, so, I’m gambling on Bowman’s new team being able to apply some of that success this year with their new driver and we can find a good match that equates to Bowman’s third career win.
- Chase Elliott: $10,700
- Alex Bowman: $9,000
- Ryan Blaney: $10,400
- Brad Keselowski: $9,600
- Denny Hamlin: $9,800
- Tyler Reddick: $7,500
- Matt DiBenedetto: $8,100
- Kyle Larson: $8,300
- William Byron: $8,800
- Kurt Busch: $8,600
- Bubba Wallace: $6,300
- Michael McDowell: $6,800
- Daniel Suarez: $5,700
- Ryan Preece: $5,300
- Corey LaJoie: $5,000
Chase Elliott is the apparent pick-up this week, and I think it’d be silly to even bother trying to find a line-up without him in it. The fact of the matter is with the way he has been running at these tracks there is little to no chance he isn’t at least running in the top ten barring an equipment failure or wreck. I personally would not fill my line-up with a lot of high-end guys, I don’t have confidence in anyone being a lock for a good spot beside Chase.
Alex Bowman is a decent pickup for reasons I listed above and because he has a good price on him, but DraftKings has made some questionable decisions with these prices this week. Martin Truex Jr.’s price is too rich for my taste and I plan on staying away from him completely. MTJ is good when we come to these tracks, but his results in the Clash and his rough start during speedweek and the Daytona 500 make me scared to break the bank on him over Elliott. Even Blaney who has shown solid results at the Roval and was the class of the field at the Clash would be a better play then MTJ for me.
I think the better play is to pick up Elliott, maybe Bowman, or Blaney and then fill your line-up with some of the cheaper options. The $8,999-$7,000 range has a lot of hit or mix prospects, but below that, we have a lot of great guys to pick from.
Bubba Wallace was running well at the DRC last year before being taken out on the last few laps and with the speed that 23XI Racing has shown off last week, I think he’s well worth a play with his cheap price. The same reasons go to Michael McDowell who scored a top ten last year here. Both these guys should be in your line-up this week.
A.J. Allmendinger is expected to be a hot play this week, but I do not trust a road course ringer with $10,200 of my salary. If he was any cheaper I would say have him in every line-up, but I like the play this week. He’s a great road course racer but he’s in a one-off ride in an underfunded Cup team. Kaulig Racing is dipping its toe into the Cup series, but I do not think they’re ready to field a winning car. A.J. very well may grab a top ten this week, but I think it’s just as likely he either doesn’t have the speed to crack the top ten or gets caught up in a wreck going for broke as he’s prone to do.