Welcome to my breakdown for this week’s inaugural Daytona road course Xfinity race! It is sure to be wild considering it’s a new course to most of these drivers, there’s no practice, and it wasn’t on the schedule until 2 weeks ago. Crazy! Let’s just hope these teams are prepared with their best cars for this superspeedway road course.
Where to start
The race is set for 52 laps, leaving us a maximum of 37 dominator points. Emphasis should be on place differential when constructing lineups this week. Last week’s optimal list at Road America featured drivers finishing 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 18 and starting 33, 23, 6, 37, 16, 36, respectively. Only 2 drivers in the optimal lineup were full-time drivers in the series. Heck, even the race winner, Austin Cindric, earned 35% of the dom points available and didn’t make the optimal lineup! I want to target good road course racers in at least decent equipment, capable of finishing in the top 10 if possible. Pricing is a little tough this week, but I’ll do my best to help you win some money this week!
*Note: There are several road course “ringers” running this week, similarly to Road America last week, including Andy Lally, Jade Buford, Earl Bamber, Brandon Gdovic, Preston Pardus, and Scott Heckert. There are only 8 drivers in this race with experience on the Daytona road course and they are mentioned throughout this article. Let’s get to the picks!
$10k and above
AJ Allmendinger (11) – AJ Allmendinger is arguably the best road course racer in this field. At this track, he has ran the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 14 times with 10 top 10s. He also ranks 1stin top 15 efficiency. What’s not to love?! His price… I know he was a lock at $12k last week but that was starting 33rd. Without the PD upside, he needs to win or finish top 5 with at least 12 dom points to hit 5x value.
Austin Cindric (1) – Easily the best car in the field and another candidate for the best road course racer in the area. He has run this course three times in the Rolex 24. Cindric ranked 1st in speed at both Indy GP and Road America, the other road courses that have been run this season, and is coming off the win last week. He is the best rated passer in the series, has gained the most positions (+73) on restarts this year by a wide margin, and has earned 34% of the dominator points available at road courses this season. Starting on the pole, he will need a similar performance to achieve value.
*Note: Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric provide good PD upside and have been unlucky to date. However, Hemric’s speed rates poorly on road courses and I would rather go with one of the options listed above.
$8k to $10k
Earl Bamber (29) – My favorite play on the slate. He has run the Rolex 24 here six times and is in one of the top cars on the circuit, the #21 RCR Chevrolet. Kaz Grala made the optimal lineup in this car last week, running in the top 5 all week. We need an 11th place finish to hit value, and I think he reaches that easily.
Brandon Gdovic (37) – A road course ringer with experience at this track starting dead last? Sign me up! Gdovic ran this same car at Indy GP earlier this year and finished 12th. A 17th place finish is all we need. He also ran this track earlier this year in a Lamborghini sports car racing series. I do worry about the quality of this car as it typically finishes around 20th but that’s my main reservation.
Andy Lally (6) – Andy has more road course racing experience than anyone else in this field. He has ran the Rolex 24 at Daytona 18 times, in addition to various other 250 mile races on this track! Last week at Road America, he was able to bring home a 6th place finish in his first Xfinity race since 2018. He doesn’t provide the PD upside we’re looking for, but he could definitely contend for the win.
May also consider: Jeremy Clements (18), Alex Labbe (16), Myatt Snider (27)
Fades: Ross Chastain (4), Harrison Burton (9)
*Note: The other options in this range not mentioned are playable. However, I think the top options and those listed here have more upside and win potential. If I had to rank them, I’d go Briscoe, Haley, Gragson. Briscoe has the highest avg finish on road courses this year and 2nd most laps led this year, but relies greatly on his pit crew. Gragson has the highest career avg finish on road courses but no wins and only 2 laps led in 6 races. Haley is the best road course racer of these 2 in my opinion, but he’s still young and his car isn’t as good.
$6k to $8k
Preston Pardus (12) – I loved playing him last week starting dead last, and he rewarded us with an 8th place finish and 8.9x value at 7500. On the final restart, he was contending for the win, but just couldn’t get it done. He also finished 10th at Indy GP. He’s riskier starting 12th and in a car that has only achieved top 10s at plate tracks and road courses, but this is his hometrack, raced here in 2015, and he has what it takes to finish top 10 again.
Jade Buford (32) – Buford finished 14th in this same car at Indy GP. In a worse car last week at Road America, he finished 19th. He has ran the Rolex 24 on this course 3 times. Starting 32nd, we need another top 20 finish to hit value. I expect him to finish somewhere around 15th.
Josh Bilicki (19) – You’re considering Bilicki starting 19th?! Are you out of your mind?! I guess so! Though he doesn’t have experience on this specific course, he came to the series with extensive road course racing experience. He has finished 23rd and 17th at the other road courses this season with average running positions of 21st and 11th. A top 15 finish seems far-fetched, but it’s certainly possible, making him the best option in the $6k range.
May also consider: Scott Heckert (30), Brandon Brown (13)
Fades: Brandon Jones (10), Michael Annett (7), Riley Herbst(15), Josh Williams (14)
$6k and below
Kyle Weatherman (26) – What a pleasant surprise Weatherman has been this year! Despite being in a Mike Harmon Racing car, he ranks 1st in top 15 efficiency and 2nd in surplus passing value. After finishing 15th and 21st at Indy and Road America this season, I’m counting on another top 20 finish.
BJ McLeod (33) – Now we get into the bleak looking value section of this slate. McLeod has been priced about $1k less most of the season, but that’s when he was starting in the teens. He is not the best road course racer with an average finish of 25.6 over the past 5 races. He has been running better this year overall, however, and needs 23rd to pay off. Given the new track and some likely wrecks, it’s certainly within reach.
Bayley Currey (34) – Not sure how many people will go here given his last-place finish at Road America, but I will go right back. He, like McLeod, is not a good road course racer. However, he ranks 1st in surplus passing value and reeled off 3 straight top 20 finishes at one point earlier in the season. Starting 34th, we don’t need much and hopefully see some attrition.
*Note: Almost everyone down here is worth a shot since no one knows what to expect, but these are my favorite plays from the range. Others either start too far forward or are consistently worse cars/drivers.
This will be a robust slate, especially compared to last week, due to the new qualifying procedures. I was looking forward to locking in Allmendinger again starting in the 30s. Oh well… It should definitely be an exciting race regardless!
Cash Core: Bamber, Gdovic, Buford
Favorite GPP plays: Lally, Bilicki, Weatherman
My lineups will likely use the core listed above in addition to a value play, potential race winner, and then see what salary remains for that final spot.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to hop in the Slack chat or hit me up on Twitter (@dsmaybin0308). Good luck!