On the Tuesday before the Daytona 500, we had the 21-car, 35-lap shootout called the Busch Clash at the Daytona Road Course. Now we’re a week after the Daytona 500 and we’re right here, back on the road course, for a 70-lap “real” race in the O’Reilly 253. We learned some things in the Busch Clash in addition to what we already know about road course races, and if you didn’t read my Fantasy/Betting Preview for this race, I’d recommend doing so by clicking here.
As far as similar tracks, the best option to look at is the Charlotte ROVAL, which is the only other road course/oval mix that the Cup Series has ran on. You can also throw in Sonoma and Watkins Glen, but we didn’t run there in 2020, so you have to go back to 2019 and older for races at those tracks.
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Chase Elliott is on the pole with Daytona 500 Champion, Michael McDowell, on the outside pole for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at the Daytona Road Course and you can see the full starting lineup by clicking here. Now let’s gooooo!!!!
Road Course Speed Report
I’m going to throw out the same statistics here as I did for the Busch Clash… Road courses haven’t been plentiful on the Cup Series schedule in prior years, so we’re really dealing with some limited data for this race. Looking at the past two full seasons, there are only five road course races that we can analyze: one race here at the Daytona Road Course in 2020, two races at the Charlotte ROVAL (2019 and 2020), and then a race at Sonoma and a race at Watkins Glen, both held in 2019.
Here are the top 5 drivers in terms of Driver Rating over those five road course races:
- Chase Elliott (129.76 average driver rating)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (121.60 average driver rating)
- William Byron (99.48 average driver rating)
- Kevin Harvick (96.98 average driver rating)
- Denny Hamlin (94.94 average driver rating)
The number of laps led over that same time span are, as expected, the exact same order:
- Chase Elliott (179 laps led)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (71 laps led)
- William Byron (71 laps led)
- Kevin Harvick (34 laps led)
- Denny Hamlin (20 laps led)
And when it comes to fastest laps, the gap between the top cars and the rest of the field widens even more:
- Chase Elliott (99 fastest laps)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (70 fastest laps)
- William Byron (31 fastest laps)
- Ryan Blaney (28 fastest laps)
- Kyle Busch (19 fastest laps)
And of course, the ever valuable Green Flag Speed. Below you will find the top 5 drivers in term of average rank in green flag speed over the last five road course races.
- Martin Truex, Jr. (3.0 average rank)
- Chase Elliott (4.6 average rank)
- Cole Custer (6.5 average rank) **only two races**
- Kevin Harvick (8.2 average rank)
- William Byron (9.0 average rank)
If you’d like to see the Loop Data & Green Flag Speed reports for the recent road course races, just click the links below alongside the corresponding race you want to see:
It’s Chase Elliott, a little further back to Martin Truex, Jr., and then everyone else.
Seriously. I’m sarcastic quite often, but those two are by far and away the best drivers on road courses right now. As you can see from the chart below, Chase Elliott won both road course races last year–at the Daytona Road Course and the Charlotte ROVAL–while Truex had the 2nd-best average finish at 5.0. Of course, take these statistics with a bit of a grain of salt, as there were only two road course races in 2020, so one bad race can skew a driver’s numbers a bit.
2020 Driver Stats on Road Courses
|Martin Truex Jr||05.0||116.5||174||21||10|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||16.5||67.6||174||1||0|
2019 + 2020 Driver Stats on Road Courses
We can go ahead and add in the 2019 road course races as well, just to have more races in the data sets. The statistics below include the two 2020 road course races mentioned above as well as the 2019 races at Sonoma, Watkins Glen, and the Charlotte ROVAL.
Please note: Chase Elliott’s average finish of 8.2 over these five races isn’t quite as impressive, but he won four of the five races and just had a bad race at Sonoma in 2019. Also note that Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer only have data from the two races in 2020, as last season was their rookie years.
|Martin Truex Jr||04.0||121.6||463||70||71|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||17.2||68.8||463||1||0|
DraftKings Strategy for the Daytona Road Course
Before we get to the video, let’s just go over a little bit of roster construction strategy. There’s no doubt that Chase Elliott ($10,700) and Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,000) are the top drivers on road courses right now. But with how the driver pricing structure played out for this slate, it might end up being best by going a different route with your built. Both of these drivers are projected to score plenty of DraftKings points, but don’t forget these things: the starting lineup for this race is kind of crazy since it’s race #2 and right after Daytona, plus this is a very short race–only 70 laps. Thanks to all of the place differential that is available by good drivers on Sunday, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to not see Chase Elliott or Martin Truex in the optimal lineup. A few other reminders:
- Don’t pick more than one driver starting inside the top 5, and if you do, make sure it’s the guy you think is going to have a lot of dominator points. Again, with all the place differential available, and with how short this race is, that is what’s going to be king here in DraftKings.
- It is a great week for contrarian / pivot strategy. There’s tons of chalk in this slate, and statistically it is unlikely that all of the chalk drivers finish where they’re expected to. Some examples of pivots: Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin off of AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch or Chase Briscoe off of Alex Bowman or William Byron, and Tyler Reddick or Christopher Bell of of Erik Jones or Matt DiBenedetto.
Now for the video breakdown! Be sure to go here and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already.
GPP / Tournament Picks
Chase Elliott ($10,700) – I can’t believe I’m writing up Chase Elliott as a tournament play at a road course race, but here we are. There are just so many great place differential options on this slate, especially among those priced $10,000 and higher. So, what I’m getting at here is, I think that’ll bring down Chase’s ownership percentage on Sunday. But then the question remains: will he make it into the optimal lineup? My driver projections for this race don’t think so, and those are estimating Chase will lead around 40 laps and have 15 fastest laps, along with a projected average finish of 1.8. In other words, assuming the rest of the projections are relatively close, it’ll take an even more dominating effort from Elliott to make it into the optimal lineup. Is it possible? Absolutely. If the first two Stages run caution-free, the teams will be able to make it on fuel through both. Chase could very easily lead all 34 of those laps. He’s led 27 or more laps in each of the last four road course races, and that includes his absolutely dominant effort at Watkins Glen in 2019, when he started on the pole, won the race, and led 80 of the 90 laps. A race similar to that here on Sunday and Chase will definitely be in the optimal lineup.
Going underweight on AJ Allmendinger ($10,200) – As I’m writing this post on Friday night, I don’t have my lineups figured out yet, but I’m considering fully fading AJ Allmendinger on Sunday. Yeah, he has the name, and he’s a great road course racer, but as I explained in the video above, I don’t trust the equipment he’s in–nor do I trust him in general not to tear up this race car. Over his last nine Cup Series starts–which, by the way, he hasn’t raced in a Cup car since 2018–Allmendinger has just two finishes better than 14th and four finishes of 24th or worse. A 14th-place finish won’t be good enough to make that $10,200 salary worth it. I’d much rather pivot to Ryan Blaney ($10,400), Kyle Busch ($10,000), Denny Hamlin ($9,800)–as long as you don’t have Chase Elliott in the lineup–of even go lower down to Joey Logano ($9,400), who my algorithm really likes.
Christopher Bell ($7,700) – I’ve been talking about Christopher Bell all week, so why stop now? Now, just to clarify, I don’t think you should go crazy with Bell exposure on Sunday, but I think it’s worth being overweight on the field. I’m expecting CBell to be under 10% owned this weekend, and I wouldn’t mind going 15-20% with him. The reason? The car he’s driving. These Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have a ton of speed to start out 2021, and they’ve been great on road courses lately. Hell, even Erik Jones turned into a real top 5 threat at road courses in this car. Also, something to keep in mind from last season: Bell didn’t really get the finishes he deserved on road courses. He had the 8th-best average running position at the Charlotte ROVAL along with the 6th-best Green Flag Speed, and here at the Daytona Road Course he ranked 14th in average running position. He finished 24th and 21st in those two races, respectively.
Cash Core Drivers
Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,000) – Tell me, did you watch the Busch Clash last week? If so, you know just how fast Martin Truex, Jr. was. He was on another level. And if this #19 team brings the same type of hot rod to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on Sunday, Truex could end up winning and leading the most laps even though he starts back in 19th. Yep, the 2nd-best driver on road courses has great place differential potential this weekend. Truex has just one finish worse than 7th at a road course in his last nine races on them, and has finished 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in six of those nine events. He’s a very safe option even though my driver projections have Ryan Blaney ($10,400) as a better pick for the price. Both are great picks, but between the two, Truex is less likely to wreck, which makes him a great cash play.
Alex Bowman ($9,000) – Chalk, chalk, chalk. DraftKings under-priced Alex Bowman a bit this weekend, in my opinion. I understand why they have him at $9,000, but still. But anyway, as you can see in my driver projections below, he’s projected to have the 3rd-highest score on the slate on Sunday and offers the best point-per-dollar according to those numbers. Bowman will start from back in 36th and has finished 14th or better in each of his last eight road course starts. Four of those eight were also top 10s. If Bowman pulls off just a 14th-place finish on Sunday, you’re looking at 51 base FPTS in DraftKings. Yep, lock him in.
Ty Dillon ($5,600) – I don’t love either cheap play options this week–the other being Daniel Suarez ($5,700)–but I’m not desperate enough to go down to the back markers, so you’re going to have to roll with Ty or Danny. If I’m building a cash lineup, it’s going to be Ty because he starts a little further back in 38th (Suarez starts 35th) and he comes at a $100 discount. Dillon is running the Gaunt Brothers car in this race, which ironically, Suarez ran last season, and finished 27th and 25th in the two road course races. As far as Ty goes, he was in relatively similar equipment with the #13 Chevrolet last season, and ended up finishing 23rd and 20th in the two road races.
Daytona Road Course DraftKings Driver Projections
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led and fastest laps for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$11,000||64.58||19||02.5||$170|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$6,100||17.00||16||21.7||$359|