The NASCAR Cup Series will travel back to Austin, Texas this week to compete at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). This was one of the most anticipated races on the schedule last year, but Mother Nature decided she wanted to see how the cars could perform on rain tires. It wasn’t pretty. The weather is nearly perfect this weekend, so now race fans will finally get to see how a stockcar car run at COTA. It should be fun. The Echopark Texas Grand Prix can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET o FOX.
PRACTICE SPEEDS FOR THE COTA
The Cup Series had their normal practice session Saturday. The teams were broken down into two groups and allowed to practice for 20 minutes. That is not a lot of time on a 3.4-mile road course. It certainly is not enough time to make any long runs. Traffic was also an issue in practice since each team spent the 20 minutes on the track and not in the garage. Some drivers were not able to show how fast they really are because slower cars were in their way. I doubt we will learn a lot from practice, but here are the speeds to give you an idea of what each team has for the race Sunday…
DFS STRATEGY FOR COTA
We do not have any useful data to use to help use predict the points for our DFS contests this week. The race at COTA last year was set for 68 laps but the checkered-flag was waived at 58 laps because of the rain. Joey Logano led 14 laps and scored two fastest laps (4.4 dominator points) and Kyle Busch led 12 laps and scored nine fastest laps (7.05 dominator points). The main dominator Sunday should score between 8-10 dominator points. While it would be nice to have those extra points in our lineup, they are not necessary to chase (no pun intended).
The strategy this week is to focus on finishing position. We need as many drivers as possible who can finish in the top 12. It will be nice to score some place differential points on the way to the top-12, so I will be selecting some drivers who start deeper in the field who have a good chance to finish in the top-12.
DraftKings Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
Finish = Finishing Points PD = Position Differential Fastest = Fastest Laps Led = Laps Led
* The number in front of the driver is his projected finishing position based on stats.
FanDuel Model (Prediction Based on Stats)
CORE DRIVERS FOT COTA
CHASE ELLIOTT (DK $10.5K FD $14K): Elliott has been a beast on the road courses and I doubt the Gen-7 car is going to slow him down. Elliott won six of the last 12 races on the road courses and finished in the top-two in nine of those 12 races. He averaged the most DK Points (50.3) and the most FD Points (49.1) on the road courses last year. The No. 9 car will have a good chance to score the highest points again Sunday.
KYLE LARSON (DK $10.4K FD $13.5K): Larson was just as good, if not better than Chase Elliott on the road courses last year. He won at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. He likely would have won at COTA if the race wasn’t stopped for rain. Larson should be a threat to win again Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH (DK $10.2K FD $12.5K): Busch completed dominated the Xfinity Series race at COTA last year. He led 35 of the 42 laps and scored 19 fastest laps. That race is important because it was run a dry track like we will have Sunday. Busch also competed in the Truck Series race Saturday and finished third. Rowdy is always good when he gets some extra track time. The No. 18 car should finish up front at COTA.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (DK $9.7K FD $13K): Truex used to be a “free square” in DFS contests every time the Cup Series competed at a road course. He is not as good as he was when Cole Pearn was setting up the car for him, but Truex still knows his way around the road courses. He is a good pivot from the more popular Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (DK $9.5K FD $11K): Cindric looked like he was going to run away with the race at COTA last year. He qualified third and immediately took the lead. Cindric was in another zip code when the rain started to fall. Cindric was the first car into the corner on the soaking wet track and he crashed his car. The weather will be a lot nicer this week. Cindric will have a good chance to finish up front on a dry track Sunday.
WILLIAM BYRON ($9.3K FD $10K): Hendric Motorsports has won three of the five races this year and they are the favorites to win Sunday. Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have the best odds to win, but do not forget about the winner from last week’s race. Byron continues to get better at the road courses. Byron starts 24th so there is little risk in using him Sunday.
JOEY LOGANO (DK $9.1K FD $12K): Logano is one of the more underrated drivers on the road courses. He hasn’t been to Victory Lane at a road course since his win at Watkins Glen in 2015, but that does not mean he is not a good play in DFS. Logano finished second at the Daytona Road Course, fourth at Sonoma and third at COTA last year. Logano was the top dominator at COTA last year. He will have a good chance to be a dominator again Sunday.
CHASE BRISCOE (DK $8.9K FD $11.5K): Briscoe had a lot of success on the road courses in the Xfinity Series. He also had some success in the Cup Series last year. Briscoe finished sixth at Road America, ninth at Watkins Glen and sixth at COTA last year. The No. 14 team has a lot more speed now than what they had in 2021. Briscoe has top-five upside this week.
AJ ALLMENDINGER (DK $8.8K FD $10.8K): I know the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have all of the wins on the road courses, but I think Allmendinger is the most talented road course driver in the series. The problem is that he never had the cars that the Hendrick Motorsports drivers had. That is going to change Sunday. Kaulig Racing may not have the speed that Hendrick Motorsports does, but it is a lot closer than it has been in the past. Allmendinger won the Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Road Course last year. Allmendinger is a lock for all Cash Contest lineups for the 20th starting position.
TYLER REDDICK (DK $8.4K FD $9K): Reddick is not the first driver that comes to mind when people think about road course aces, but he is getting better. Reddick finished ninth at COTA last year. He also finished eighth at Road America and second at the Charlotte Roval. Reddick has been on fire this year, so I will give him a chance in a few of my lineups Sunday.
ROSS CHASTAIN (DK $8.2K FD $9.2K): Chastain is on a hot streak right now and I doubt he will slow down at COTA. Chastain finished second (Atlanta), second (Phoenix) and third (Las Vegas) in his last three races. He also finished fourth at COTA last year. Chastain will be competing in the Xfinity Series race Saturday and that extra seat time should help him in the race Sunday. I will play the hot hand with Chastain Sunday.
KURT BUSCH (DK $7.8K FD $7.8K): Busch does not get as much respect as he should in DFS contests. Busch has the best average finishing position in the first five races this year (9.6). He also had the fifth-best average finishing position in the seven road courses races last year. Busch averaged the fifth-most DK Points (37.8) and the third-most FD Points (43.1) on the road courses in 2021. The No. 45 car is definitely worth a spot in some of your lineups Sunday.
ERIK JONES (DK $7.4K FD $6.8K): Jones has been hit or miss on the road courses since he left Joe Gibbs Racing, but he has enough upside to take a chance with Sunday. Jones finished seventh at the Indy Road Course last year, so he knows how to run up front. Jones finished half of the races he started on the road courses in the top-11. Jones starts 30th and he should score some place differential points this week.
CHRIS BUESCHER (DK $7.3K FD $7.5K): Buescher is one of the more underrated drivers on the road courses. He said he learned a lot from AJ Allmendinger when they were teammates at JTG Daugherty Racing. Buescher finished 13th at COTA last year and he finished third at the Charlotte Roval. Buescher is a good value pick for your lineups this week.
DANIEL SUAREZ (DK $7.1K FD $6.3K): I wasn’t thinking about using Suarez until I heard him Tuesday night on NASCAR RaceHub on FS1. Adam Alexander asked Saurez, “Trackhouse has been running well right now. Where do you think your team will get their first win?” Suarez answered, “To be honest I think it could happen this week at COTA. We were running well last year when out transmission broke. We have more momentum and better cars this year and I think we can win Sunday.” I am not sure Suarez will win, but he was running in the top-10 last year when his car broke. He has a lot of speed but he is risky from the second starting position. I will take a chance in a few Tournament Contest lineups with Suarez.
MICHAEL MCDOWELL (DK $6.2K FD $7.5K): McDowell was one of the best picks for your DFS contests at COTA last year. He started 23rd and finished seventh. McDowell is always a good cheap driver who will allow you to pay up for the top drivers. McDowell starts 27th and should have a good chance to finish in the top-15 Sunday.
ANDY LALLY $5.2K FD $3.5K: Lally will be behind the wheel of the No. 78 car for Live Fast Motorsports. He has his work cut out for him Sunday. The team failed inspection 3X’s so Lally was not allowed to make a qualifying lap and he will have to make a pass-through penalty at the start of the race. COTA is a 3.4-mile track so Lally will not go a lap down. He will start last though and offers a lot of place differential points. He has the talent to run in the top-20. He just needs his car to stay in one piece for 230 miles.
TY DILLON DK $5.1K FD $3.5K is a decent punt play this week. He is not the best road course racer in the field but he doesn’t need to be at his current price. Dillon started 38th and finished 19th at the Daytona Road Course race last year. It was the only road course race Dillon competed in and he scored 43 DK Points. Dillon starts 33rd Sunday and he will be in the winning lineup if he scored 40+ DK points again.
DFS EXAMPLE LINEUPS
Each year I get told the same thing… I used your lineup and I did not win the big jackpot. That is because 25-50 other people copied and pasted my lineup too and you had to split the pot 25-50 ways. The lineups posted this year will be examples on how to create a lineup for the race. You can copy and paste, but just know a lot of other people will have the same lineup. (It is OK to copy and paste the Cash Contest lineup). There is plenty of information in this article to help you create your own unique lineup to give you a better chance of winning.
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST LINEUP
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
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