Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at COTA

Who’s ready to see which drivers take the best slipstreams to pass their competitors and earn a good finish?

Oops, wrong series.

The NASCAR Cup Series takes on Circuit of the Americas this week for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, airing Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Let’s get those daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups ready!

It’s the first road course of the season and it comes with a twist (besides the ones on the track): There won’t be cautions for stage breaks, but stage points will still be awarded. This will likely create multiple pit strategies throughout the first two stages.

Also new this weekend is the low downforce package that was first run at Phoenix Raceway. It will be interesting to see whether this greatly affects the action on the track, or if it’s just similar to past road course races.

Additionally, the choose rule for restarts marks its debut on a road course, which could alter who we might see up front. If there’s a preferred line like there was at Atlanta Motor Speedway, more drivers might take that side. However, I think they’ll likely go for the track position instead, as that’s always important on this track type.

So, with all the new and different packages and rule changes, how do you prepare for DraftKings? Well, one of the things you can obviously look at is how drivers performed at COTA. Also, examine last year’s stats at road courses, since it was the the opening season for the Next Gen car.

Plus, drivers got an hour of practice on Friday; examine those results as well as the five-lap averages. Those speeds can help determine who will be fast on Sunday.

Qualifying is set to run on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET and airs on FOX Sports 1.

Before I move on to this week’s picks, take a look at the results from Atlanta Motor Speedway:

DraftKings SalaryDriverDraftKings Score
$10,900William Byron-10.2
$10,400Ryan Blaney35.15
$10,000Ross Chastain41.65
$7,800Daniel Suarez9.9
$7,500Erik Jones60.95
$6,100Justin Haley22.5
$6,000Corey LaJoie71.5

Well, instead of Chevrolet dominating, it was mostly Fords, with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski taking the top two spots. William Byron crashed out early and had a negative score as a result. Daniel Suarez also was involved in a wreck and didn’t reach 10 fantasy points.

On the bright side, Corey LaJoie and Ross Chastain showed strength and speed all race long, with LaJoie earning a top five after starting 31st. And how about Erik Jones‘s drive through the middle on the last lap?

Here’s a look at the DraftKings scoring rules:

The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and 31st through 40th.

Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they finish. For example, if Logano started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.

Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.

NASCAR DraftKings Scoring

Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues.

Here is the link to the league:

2023 Frontstretch NASCAR DraftKings League

Now, here are my picks!

Note: Stats are from 2022 road courses only

DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($8,800-10,400)

Ross Chastain ($10,100)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 1 win, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 16.2

COTA is the site of Chastain’s first Cup win, and it didn’t come easy. Though he led 31 laps in last year’s race, he had to shove his way to the lead after a late restart, sending AJ Allmendinger spinning.

The No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Team driver also was one of just two drivers to secure top fives in both races at COTA, driving from 20th to fourth in the rainy 2021 event.

Additionally, he scored two more top 10s last season at Sonoma Raceway and Road America. Though he didn’t do so well on the other three road courses, he should still contend to win this weekend.

Tyler Reddick ($9,900)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 2 wins, 3 top fives, 5 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 9.5

Tyler Reddick also joined the first-win club on a road course in 2022, though his victory came at Road America. He then won the next event on this track type at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, leading 38 of 86 laps.

In fact, he led laps in five of the six road course races, the lone exception being Sonoma where he retired early due to mechanical problems. Reddick placed fifth at COTA last year, seventh at Watkins Glen International and eighth at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, leading 21 circuits in the latter event.

Reddick showed speed early and often during practice Friday, topping the chart in single-lap and five-lap average speeds. If he claims the pole, would he be able to stay out front? I think he can, which would help boost his DraftKings score.

Austin Cindric ($8,800)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 4 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 9.3

Austin Cindric started last year off with four straight top 10s on the road courses: eighth at COTA, fifth at Sonoma, seventh at Road Amercia and second at the Indy road course. Cindric also led 11 laps at COTA last season.

Now, his average running position was a bit lower than his average finish (12.9), but still, he was running near the front when it mattered most.

The No. 2 Team Penske pilot also won four road course events in the Xfinity Series and has even run some IMSA races, so he’s definitely skilled on these racetracks. Perhaps all Cindric needs is some adjusting to the Next Gen car.

Middle Tier ($7,400-$8,700)

Alex Bowman ($8,600)
2022 results at road courses: 5 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10
2022 average finish on road courses: 15.2

Although Alex Bowman has just one top 10 on a road course last season, it was at COTA where he placed runner up to Chastain. It was also his second top 10 at this racetrack, as he finished eighth in 2021.

Bowman isn’t typically known for his road course skills, but since he has two straight top 10s in Austin, Texas, I think there’s a good chance he’ll do well once again this weekend. After all, he does have four top-10 results at the Charlotte ROVAL.

Chris Buescher ($7,700)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 5 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 9.0

Chris Buescher is also not known for his road-racing ability, but he made a splash last season with five top 10s. This includes a second place at Sonoma where he led four laps.

The No. 17 RFK Racing wheelman did much better in his first go-around at COTA in 2021 than in 2022, earning a 13th in the former event.

Plus, Buescher has some top 10s at other road courses in years past, including two at the Charlotte ROVAL.

With RFK showing a lot of strength so far this year, I think Buescher can earn another top 15 at COTA.

(also like: Jordan Taylor)

Low Tier ($4,600-$7,300)

Michael McDowell ($7,100)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 4 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 10.8

This may be one of the highest salaries for Michael McDowell so far, but he should be worth it. He gained 14 positions in last year’s event at COTA en route to 13th. Then, at Sonoma he finished second to Daniel Suarez. McDowell was eighth at both Road America and the Indy road course, while at Watkins Glen he led 14 circuits before finishing sixth.

In 2021 at COTA, McDowell brought home seventh place after starting 23rd.

However, I think the Next Gen car helped McDowell to run more up front than his competitors. He should be a favorite to earn a top 10 once again, though if he starts in the top 10 I’m more hesitant to play him on DraftKings.

Austin Dillon ($6,400)
2022 results at road courses: 6 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
2022 average finish on road courses: 18.2

Austin Dillon had some interesting results on the road courses in 2022. He was 10th and 11th at COTA and Sonoma, but then had a couple of poor finishes at Road America and the Indy road course.

However, he bounced back and earned a top 20 at WGI and another 10th place at the Charlotte ROVAL. Perhaps it was just the summer blues last year?

Though he doesn’t have Reddick for a teammate anymore, Kyle Busch is also fairly good on the road courses and should help Dillon with information and feedback. Besides, Dillon is too inexpensive on DraftKings for me to ignore him in my roster, depending on where he qualifies.

(also like: Ty Gibbs, Todd Gilliland)

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

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