Austin, Texas is said to be one of the most underrated cities in America. While I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting it yet, it is a bucket list city of mine. Now that NASCAR is looking to become a mainstay it adds even more appeal. Circuit of the Americas is one of the prestigious tracks that NASCAR has not had the pleasure of racing at in its history.

A lot of fans are still not excited whenever we head to road courses, but to be honest I think that people are coming around. This is especially thanks to fan favorite Chase Elliott arguably being the best road course driver in Cup right now.

Favorite: Chase Elliott

Speaking of which, Elliott is going to be my favorite heading into this race. It’s not just a lazy throwaway pick, this makes sense this week. Hendrick Motorsports is coming off one of their most successful races in history where all four cars finished 1-4, that is a lot of positive momentum.

Elliott is still the only driver for the team that hasn’t won a race yet this year, and you have to believe that’s eating him up. He’s ran well all year, and he has every bit of motivation heading into a track that he knows he has an advantage at.

Dark Horse: Tyler Reddick

Speaking of advantage, Tyler Reddick is one of barely a handful of drivers who has experience at COTA. He and teammate Austin Dillon competed in the World Racing League race at COTA back in 2020. He will also be gathering valuable experience in the Xfinity race the day before.

Reddick is already an underrated road course racer, so this pick is a potential winner’s pick. I expect him to run well, but I honestly will not be surprised if we see him in victory lane by the end of the race. Reddick started off the year slow, but his car has been picking up speed as the year’s gone on, and it could culminate in a huge surprise first win at a first-time track.

Fantasy:

High-End Picks:

  1. Chase Elliott: $10,500
  2. Martin Truex Jr.: $10,600
  3. Ryan Blaney: $9.100
  4. Kyle Larson: $10,200
  5. Kevin Harvick: $9,700

Mid-Tier Picks:

  1. Tyler Reddick: $7,200
  2. Christopher Bell: $8,300
  3. Austin Cindric: $8,700
  4. A.J. Allmendinger: $8,500
  5. Michael McDowell: $7,400

Low-End Picks:

  1. Daniel Suarez: $6,600
  2. Ryan Newman: $6,700
  3. Chris Buescher: $6,900
  4. Bubba Wallace: $5,800
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: $6,200

Everyone in my high-end picks is someone who has just as much probability of winning as anyone. While Chase Elliott is my favorite to win, this is still a brand-new track to everyone in the field and we have no idea who will adapt quicker.

This race is one where I would rely heavily on guys with road course success. These are the guys that will have an easier time then the guys who are capable at turning right, but really prefer the ovals. That’s why I wouldn’t be afraid of one-off drivers like Austin Cindric or A.J. Allmendinger. These “ringers” have realistic chances of stealing a win thanks to their natural proclivity for road course racing.

The low-end guys are really just pick your poison types. I think that Daniel Suarez has some solid potential here, and maybe even Newman, but everyone else you’re just hoping for a top 20. Bubba Wallace is somewhat intriguing due to his low price. He struggles at road courses, but a top 20 is likely and I feel like it’s more realistic he’d find a top 10 over anyone else in that price range. 

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