The first NASCAR Cup Series road course race of the season takes place today at Circuit of the Americas (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX).
Only 68 laps are on the docket, meaning dominator points are largely negligible. Instead, I’ll focus on the combination of finishing position and place differential for my top NASCAR DFS picks.
My model projections reflect the reality of road course racing. Only one driver starting inside the top five is expected to wind up in the optimal lineup more than 10% of the time.
With that in mind, let’s dive into today’s top NASCAR DFS picks for today’s race at Circuit of the Americas.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
William Byron ($9300)
Byron is about as obvious of a cash game play as it gets. He’s an elite driver on an elite team, starting farther back than any other driver falling into this category. Byron led nearly one-quarter of the race at Road America last year. He also likely would have won the Charlotte Roval race if Tyler Reddick hadn’t hit him from behind as Byron was passing teammate Kyle Larson for the lead. I’m not worried about Byron’s slow practice time.
This team has been too good all year long. He’ll come forward in the race.
A.J. Allmendinger ($8800)
This car was designed with road course racing in mind, and there may not be a better road course racer in the series than the Dinger. Allmendinger has two career road course wins, including one last year at Indianapolis. That all comes despite running for lower mid-tier teams most of his career. This new car, however, has leveled the playing field, bringing Kaulig Racing back into the fold as a real contender.
Allmendinger absolutely dominated the XFINITY race on Saturday. Look for him to slice his way through the field and finish up front.
He’s one of the safest plays on the slate.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Joey Hand ($5000)
Typically, the dirt-cheap drivers don’t get a ton of play, but I expect Hand to get plenty of usage. That said, it may not be enough. This new car has definitely equalized the playing field, and Joey Hand showed that by slamming down the 14th fastest practice lap despite being in bottom-tier Rick Ware Racing equipment.
This new car really seems to favor sports car, and road course racers. As one of those, Hand should…ahem…handsomely benefit.
Joey Logano ($9100)
I get the sense that people are sleeping on Logano, and that should keep his usage down. There’s tons of hype around the young guns like Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, and Chase Briscoe. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and the big guns at Joe Gibbs racing are always road course favorites. A.J. Allmendinger is known for his road course prowess.
Hell, even Daniel Suarez is making noise with a second-place qualifying effort and fast practice speed. Through all of this, the 31-year-old veteran Logano is quietly flying under the radar. Logano starts in that awkward sixth position. It’s not far enough forward to think he’ll lead a ton of the race, and it’s not far enough back to feel confident in place differential potential. But he can finish up front.
Logano had three top-four finishes at road course races last year. Even if we throw last year out with the move to the new car, I’m not worried. All of Team Penske looks fast. They placed all three drivers inside the top 11 in both practice and qualifying. Logano is risky, but he has a good shot to pay off with a top-three finish.
My model gives him a 21% chance of doing so.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Paul Menard Pick of the Week
My PMPOTY, Harrison Burton ($5800), will probably fly under the radar for several reasons.
First, Burton qualified in 19th. In most players’ minds, that’s probably too far forward for a lower-priced driver.
Second, people are gun-shy on Burton because he has yet to have a complete race start to finish.
These reasons are misguided. Burton’s poor results are largely due to an incredible run of bad luck.
I also don’t buy the argument that he starts too far forward. Other than Hand, Burton is the driver with the biggest gap between his qualifying spot (19th) and practice speed (4th).
He’s risky but has plenty of upside if he can even come close to that practice result. The cheap price tag certainly doesn’t hurt.