The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
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1. Kyle Larson ($10,300) — Your eyes do not deceive you and neither do the stats. Anyone that has watched all of the road course laps this season knows that Larson has been the best road course driver. If you don’t trust yourself, then look at that stat sheet.
2. Chase Elliott ($10,700) — Is it possible that Chase Elliott is mortal? Is he no longer a road course god? Elliott vs. Larson is NASCAR’s version of Batman vs. Superman. This rivalry has not played out at the ovals, but it’s been a terrific battle at the road courses.
3. Denny Hamlin ($9,500) — In many cases, Hamlin has been the forgotten contender this season, but that happens when a driver doesn’t visit Victory Lane until September. Since his win at Darlington, he added another at Las Vegas. Hamlin has the third-best real rating at road courses in 2021.
4. AJ Allmendinger ($11,200) — Larson or Hamlin should have won the Indy road course race, but NASCAR booby trapped the track and Allmendinger won amidst the chaos. Is chaos likely, again? Chaos is always a possibility in modern NASCAR.
5. Brad Keselowski ($8,500) — Real Rating is my own statistical creation that weighs a driver’s average position along with the amount of laps led and laps driven inside the top 5, top 10, top 20, top 25 and top 30, Keselowski scored below a 50/100 in three of the five road course races this season.
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6. Martin Truex Jr ($10,100) — Remember when Truex used to mop the floor with these guys at road courses? Truex has not lost it and neither has JGR, but the Hendrick drivers have gone Super Saiyan.
7. Kyle Busch ($9,900) — Throw out the Daytona Road Course race (wreck), and Busch has the second-best real rating at the road courses this season (92/100). Larson, Elliott and Hamlin will be popular hogs (laps led and fast lap leaders), but Busch is a worthy pivot.
8. Joey Logano ($8,100) — Team Penske builds strong high horsepower cars. This has been the case for several seasons. Logano doesn’t always look like the best car on the track, but he routinely earns top-5 finishes in this package at ovals and road courses.
9. Kevin Harvick ($8,200) — Just as Truex has fallen from the road course throne, so too, has Harvick. In the past, teams only had to prep for two road courses, but now, a dedicated development of a team’s road course program stretches resources thin, and SHR already appears to be stretched thin.
10. Ryan Blaney ($9,100) — Now for the obligatory mention of Blaney’s 2018 Roval win. Followed by the qualifying statement that Jimmie Johnson went Leroy Jenkins in the final chicane and took out the leader, Martin Truex, allowing for the Blaney win.
11. William Byron ($9,700) — The Hendrick Motorsports cars have been the best at the road courses over the last couple seasons. Byron does not have a road course win or consistent top finishes because he has struggled to put together complete races.
12. Alex Bowman ($8,900) — Of all the road courses, the Charlotte Roval has been his best track. Bowman has not been bad at the roval in Daytona, either. He seems to feel much more comfortable at roval-type tracks than traditional road courses.
13. Kurt Busch ($8,700) — No other driver has more NASCAR road course experience (over 20 years). Of course he has more top 10s and top 5s than anyone else because of the volume of races, but what is impressive is that his average road course finish ranks fifth.
14. Ryan Newman ($6,700) — After 46 road course races, he should have this stuff figured out by now. He hasn’t been great at road courses throughout his career, but he’s been Ryan Newman — 67% top 20 rate and a 2% DNF rate.
15. Michael McDowell ($7,100) — Pray for rain. The forecast is calling for the annual wet weekend at Charlotte. Under wet conditions, the playing field is more than leveled. Equipment takes a back seat to talent, and McDowell earned a top-10 finish in a monsoon at COTA.
16. Chase Briscoe ($7,600) — It’s always tough to trust Xfinity results, but Briscoe has continued his road course success at the Cup level. He finished sixth at COTA and Road America, ninth at Watkins Glen and 11th at Sonoma.
17. Matt DiBenedetto ($7,900) — Indy went bananas at the end, so DiBenedetto’s fifth place finish is inflated (average running position of 14th). However, his 10th place finish at Road America was two spots worse than his average position of 8th. DiBenedetto is a top-10 driver and with his starting position, he might be the highest owned driver at the Roval.
18. Cole Custer ($5,700) — This price tag simply cannot be ignored. An SHR car for less than $6,000 with the opportunity for place differential points, this is intriguing. Custer may not have been a top-10 driver at the Roval last season, but with late race cautions, that is where he finished (ninth).
19. Tyler Reddick ($7,800) — He’s a racer, so he’ll figure out the road courses. No one thinks of Reddick as a road course wiz, but the same could have been said for Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Judging by Reddick’s recent results, he seems to be figuring it out.
20. Ryan Preece ($6,000) — Through pit strategy, Preece found himself out front at the Roval in stage 3 last season. He could not hang on, but he did manage to bring the car home inside the top 15. Look for Preece to play games on pit road, again.
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