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.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($10,400) — Here’s a surprise, Larson had the best Real Rating at the road courses last season. Imagine that. The best race car driver in North America was the best at the most challenging tracks.
2. Kyle Busch ($10,200) — No one is a bigger advocate for the benefits of practice than Busch. He is running the Truck race to get extra reps. Just like in every season before, he was one of the best road racers last season.
3. Chase Elliott ($10,500) — The NASCAR TV commercial implies that he is one of the best road course drivers in the series and the data support it. Elliott won at COTA last season, but the ending was slightly controversial.
4. Austin Cindric ($9,500) — He dominated the Xfinity Series at the road courses. Last year as a part-time driver, he was in contention to win each of his road course Cup Series races. There isn’t a good reason why Cindric is not the favorite to win this race.
5. Denny Hamlin ($9,800) — There’s Larson and there’s the rest. Somewhere in between the two is Denny Hamlin. He had a 0.88 Real Rating at the road courses last season (Larson had a 0.92).
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6. Martin Truex Jr ($9,700) — Just a couple years ago, Truex was the king of the road. He’s still elite, but his kingdom has become crowded with usurpers (Larson, Elliott and Hamlin).
7. William Byron ($9,300) — Despite the poor finishes in his 2021 road course races, Byron was one of the highest rated drivers at road courses last season. This has been the case for years. Byron is a talented road racer in a great car, but his luck has been terrible.
8. Ryan Blaney ($10,000) — His 2018 win at the Roval was fluky, but he put himself in position to win. Since 2018, he has top-15 finishes in 11 of 15 road races. His average finish in those 11 races is eighth.
9. Joey Logano ($9,100) — His road course race results are almost like plate track results. Since 2018, Logano has eight top-10 finishes at road courses (four top 5s). He also has five finishes of 19th or worse with an average finish of 24th in those races.
10. Ross Chastain ($8,200) — In three road course races last season, Chastain’s Real Rating (a statistic that comprehensively synthesizes a driver’s race) was one of the best — 0.90 at COTA, 0.80 at Road America and 0.78 at Watkins Glen. Once is luck, but three times is skill.
11. Christopher Bell ($9,000) — Some might perceive his win at the Daytona Road Course as luck, but he backed it up with other strong road races throughout the season. Also, he has a road course win in the Xfinity Series (Road America).
12. Alex Bowman ($8,600) — Is Bowman a good road racer? It’s unknown. Is Bowman a smart road racer? Absolutely. Stages have ruined road racing. Everyone stays on the lead lap, so drivers can (and do) limp around for two stages. Bowman has gamed the system in the past and earned top-10 finishes when he was not a top-10 driver.
13. Tyler Reddick ($8,400) — Between the 2020 and 2021 season, Reddick dedicated himself to becoming a better road course racer. His efforts bore fruit and he won the pole at COTA last season. After an eventful race, he earned a top-10 finish.
14. Cole Custer ($6,000) — Double-duty drivers are a thing. Cheap double-duty drivers are double a thing. Custer ran double duty last season, but it did not help because he plowed into Martin Truex during a monsoon. By the time the Cup Series race begins, only Kyle Busch will have run more NASCAR laps at COTA than Cole Custer.
15. Todd Gilliland ($5,600) — If he keeps it up, a NASCAR punt will be called a “Todd.” This week could be another step towards building a DFS legend. Gilliland won the Truck Series race at COTA last season.
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