The NASCAR Cup Series travel to Austin, Texas this weekend to compete at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The inaugural race last year was ruined because of torrential rain. Now the Cup Series will get to see how the Gen-7 car will perform on this new track. I expect it is going to be another good race to add to the already exciting 2022 season. The Echpark Texas Grand Prix can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
STRATEGY FOR COTA
The first five races of the 2022 have been unpredictable because we had no idea how the Gen-7 car would perform on a Superspeedways (Daytona and Atlanta), the intermediate tracks (Auto Club and Las Vegas) and the flat track in Phoenix. Now the Cup Series will get to compete at a track where the outcome of the race will be determined by the driver’s skills behind the wheel and not so much about the way the new car performs. This should make predicting the Echopark Texas Grand Prix easier than what we had in the first five races because we know who the good road course drivers are.
The strategy is pretty easy this week… Select the drivers with a history of running well on the road courses. Your league is going to be won from your drivers in Group B this week. I expect everyone is going to use Chase Elliott in Group A and AJ Allemndinger in Group B. I will take a few chances in Group B with drivers who are on a hot streak in 2022 and have some success on the road courses.
DRIVER GROUP GAME LINEUP
GROUP A DRIVERS
CHASE ELLIOTT (9): Do I really need to convince you to select Elliott for your team this week? All he has done is won six of the last 12 road course races. He has finished in the top-two in nine of the last 12 road course races. Elliott is the safest pick in the field. Elliott won this race last year and he is my pick to win Sunday.
KYLE LARSON (8): Larson was just as good as Chase Elliott and he may have been slightly better than his teammate on the road courses last year. Larson won at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. He also finished second at COTA. When NASCAR had qualifying in 2018 and 2019 (He missed the races in 2020), Larson won three poles and started on the front row five times. Larson should have a great chance to score bonus points for qualifying so my strategy is to have Larson in the lineup for qualifying points and Elliott will be my driver for the race.
GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Chase Elliott 2) Kyle Larson 3) Kyle Busch 4) Martin Truex Jr. 5) Denny Hamlin 6) Ryan Blaney 7) Kevin Harvick
GROUP B DRIVERS
* Joey Logano (8) is the best choice in Group B but I think it is wise to save the No. 22 car for the oval tracks. You can use Logano over Kurt Busch if you want a good chance to score well this week and sacrifice some points latter in the season. William Byron is also a great choice but I think it is wise to save his allocations for the oval tracks too.
ROSS CHASTAIN (9): Do not touch Chastain if your see him at the track because he is on fire right now. Chastain finished third (Las Vegas), second (Phoenix) and second (Atlanta) in his last three races. Chastain also looked good on the road courses last year. He finished fourth at COTA, seventh at Sonoma, seventh at Road America and 12th at Watkins Glen. His hot streak and success on the road courses are just too good to pass up this week. I will use Chastain until he cools off.
CHASE BRISCOE (8): Briscoe is another driver who is running well right now and he has had success on the road courses. Briscoe ranks third in the Cup Series Points Standings and now he gets to compete at one of the tracks where he had success at last year. Briscoe finished sixth at COTA in 2021. He also finished sixth at Road America and ninth at Watkins Glen. Briscoe won road course races at the Charlotte Roval and Indianapolis Road Course against some good competition in the Xfinity Series. The No 14 car should finish in the top-10 Sunday.
TYLER RIDDICK (8): Do you want to score some qualifying points Saturday? You may want to use Reddick in your lineup. He won the pole at COTA last year. The No 8 car has had a lot of speed this year too. I would not be surprised if Reddick won the pole and scored the 10 bonus points in the Driver Group Game. He has also been good in the races. Reddick finished ninth at COTA last year. He also finished eighth at Road America, 10th at Watkins Glen and second at the Charlotte Roval. I would not be surprised if Reddick got his first win in the Cup Series this week.
KURT BUSCH (9): I have three young drivers in my lineup so I need a veteran as an insurance policy. Busch is secretly having a good season. His 9.6 average finishing position this year is the best in the Cup Series. Busch has consistently finished the road course races in the top-10. He finished sixth at Sonoma, fourth at Road America and sixth at the Indianapolis Road Course last year. Busch should have a great chance to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Joey Logano 2) William Byron 3) Tyler Reddick 4) Ross Chastain 5) Kurt Busch 6) Chase Briscoe 7) Chase Briscoe 8) Alex Bowman 9) Christopher Bell 10) Chris Buescher
GROUP C DRIVERS
AJ ALLMENDINGER (9): Allmendinger will be back in the No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing. Allmendinger will have a great chance to win the race Sunday. COTA was made for sports car racing and that is Allmendinger’s background. He proved he can win in the Cup Series when he won the Indianapolis Road Course race last year. Kaulig Racing has better cars in 2022 than they had last year. It will also help Allmendinger that he will get some extra track time since he will compete in the Xfinity Series race Saturday. It is a good idea to use Allmendinger at the rod courses and save your other drivers for the oval tracks.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (6): I think I have had Cindric in my lineup for every race except at Daytona (the race he won). You almost have to have the No. 2 car in your lineup this week. Cindric looked like he was going to run away with the race last year at COTA. He qualified third and immediately took the lead. Cindric was in another zip code when the rain caused him to slide off the track and ended his race. Cindric is going to be good again this week, but my plan is to use the No. 2 car for qualifying points and use AJ Allmendinger in the race.
GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) AJ Allmendinger 2) Austin Cindric 3) Daniel Suarez 4) Michael McDowell 5) Cole Custer
* Be sure to check back Saturday evening for my starting lineup for the Driver Group Game.
TRUCK SERIES STARTING LINEUP
Good Luck This Week!
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