B&L Transport 170

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Welcome, Speed Degens, to another Xfinity Series race preview! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written one for you all due to time constraints with work and family, but thank you guys for the understanding. This week, though the Xfinity and Cup Series are racing at road courses, they are at different tracks. There is a clear strategy to employ, but unfortunately, the pool is a little deeper than usual. Without further ado, let’s dig in!

Race Information

  • There are 75 laps on the 2.26-mile road course.
  • Though teams often employ a strategy of pitting before stage breaks to leap positions when the rest of the field pits at the break, it is not as feasible this week due to rule changes. There are no live pit stops at the end of stages, meaning drivers should retain their position and that there will be less variance due to penalties or slow pit stops.
  • Prior optimal lineups prioritize finishing position and place differential. Due to the smaller amount of laps, there are not as many hog points available. Likewise, since cars can get pretty spread out on the track, passing can be hard to come by. With that being said, I’m targeting 5x value more so than the 6x I usually target on oval tracks.
  • However, in the two most recent Mid-Ohio races, there have been no more than two drivers starting worse than 30th finish in the top 15 in DraftKings scoring, so beware of rostering drivers simply for place differential.

Drivers to Target

$10k and above

Austin Cindric (1) – He is arguably the best road racer in the best car and starting on the pole. He has won at the Daytona RC, Watkins Glen, Road America, and here at Mid-Ohio. Cindric has started on the pole the past two races at Mid-Ohio and finished top 2 in both races while picking up the most hog points in both as well.

AJ Allmendinger (12) – If Cindric isn’t the best road racer in the series, then it has to be AJ Allmendinger. In the nine road course races he’s run since 2019 (excluding two where he was involved in accidents), his average finish is 2.3. Starting 12th, he also provides someplace differential upside and is a solid contender to win today.

Ty Gibbs (2) – I prefer the two listed above, but Gibbs is a strong pivot, especially if they have accidents. In his lone Xfinity road course start earlier this year at Daytona, he won. Then again, Cindric and Allmendinger wrecked each other, opening the door for Gibbs. Last night, he won the ARCA series race here at Mid-Ohio, and those laps were extremely valuable in a year without practice.

**Note: May also consider Noah Gragson. Regardless, I am playing no more than 2 of these drivers in the same lineup. I likely will not roster Gibbs and Cindric together, but Allmendinger’s place differential is enticing to roster alone or with the others.

$8k to $10k

Justin Allgaier (5) – I’m not entirely sold that Allgaier will pay off, especially with the options I listed above. However, he does have a win here in 2018 and has been off to a great start in the 2021 season. Like Gibbs, it would likely require a mistake by Cindric and/or Allmendinger, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibilities. GPP pivot only.

Josh Berry (31) – When I first started researching this week, I thought Berry was significantly overpriced, mainly because he is not in his usual car. He is racing the #31 Jordan Anderson Racing car. However, with the place differential upside he provides, I can’t eliminate him from my pool. Though he hasn’t run a road course race, he is an avid user of iRacing and has probably spent tons of hours learning the track. Berry should race conservatively to ensure Anderson gains enough points to qualify for future races and has top 10 potential. 

Miguel Paludo (29) – Now to the driver who will be piloting the #8 car instead of Berry… Paludo has had terrible luck in his two appearances with JR Motorsports. He had mechanical issues at Daytona RC, causing him to drive through the field multiple times on his way to a 7th place finish. At COTA, despite an average running position of 20th, his transmission broke, resulting in a bad finish. This is one of my favorite plays on the slate.

Andy Lally (27) – Lally has had a similar 2021 season to Paludo with finishes of 18th and 31st at COTA and Daytona, respectively. In 2020, he did finish in the top 5 at Daytona and Road America, albeit in likely better equipment. Sometimes, he does get too aggressive trying to work his way to the front, but his upside can’t be ignored.

**Note: May also consider Justin Haley, Michael Annett. I think Haley is a sneaky good road racer and has top 3 potential, but it’s risky. I rarely play Annett, but he can achieve 5x value with an 8th place finish, which is about where I think his ceiling is. 

$6k to $8k

Preston Pardus (39) – Same story, different driver. Pardus showed his upside with top 10 finishes at Indy GP and Road America in 2020. He was also running well at Daytona and Roval but was taken out in wrecks. Starting 39th, I’m finding it hard to fade him in my lineups. He has top 15 potential, in my opinion, and can achieve 5x value with a 20th place finish.

Ryan Sieg (23) – His equipment is better than most in this range, making him worthy of consideration. While he isn’t a great road racer, he is simply underpriced. His average driver rating rank at all tracks so far in 2021 is 15th. A 12th place finish would yield a 5.5x value.

Kris Wright (33) – Wright comes from a road racing background, disregarding his finishes at the oval tracks. In the ARCA series race last night, his 8th place finish doesn’t look impressive on paper, but after an early mishap put him two laps down, he didn’t get to show his full potential. Given his cheap salary and deep starting position, he only needs to finish 22nd or better to hit 5x value.

**Note: May also consider Alex Labbe, Jeremy Clements, Jade Buford. Labbe and Clements are typically seen as quality road racers among the Xfinity series regulars, but they are starting too high for me to feel comfortable. Buford, like Wright, comes from a road racing background and has 5 top 20 finishes in the six road course races he’s ran, including an 8th place finish at the Roval in 2020. 

$6k and below

Most lineups are going to have at least one driver in this punt range. Choosing the best one is difficult, though. Place differential upside is the easiest path to points here, even though the fastest cars should finish toward the front. Along those lines, Bayley Currey, Gray Gaulding, and Kyle Weatherman are my favorite punts starting worse than 30th. Gaulding is a better driver than most down here, while Currey and Weatherman race for Mike Harmon Racing and have employed early pitting strategies at road courses in the past. Joe Graf Jr. is another option, but I have little to no faith that he will avoid wrecks. As I mentioned, the best cars should finish better. In that case, Tommy Joe Martins should be considered as he is arguably the best car of those priced below $6k. 

Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, focus on top 10 finishing potential and place differential when constructing lineups. Choosing the race winner will be essential given the lack of hog points available. If I had to rank my top 4 choices to win, I would go Cindric, Allmendinger, Allgaier, Gibbs.

Given no live pit stops and how road courses tend to play out, the cream should rise to the top. Road-course experience and good equipment will be most correlated to success. 

Cash Core: Allmendinger/Paludo/Lally/Pardus

GPP Core: Cindric/Berry/Buford

Best of luck this weekend, Speed Degens! As always, if you have any questions, join our FREE Slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308)!