The fall race at Talladega is usually considered the wildest race of the playoffs, but this year, that honor could go to this weekend's Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. The track will make its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend when it hosts the first elimination race of the 2018 playoffs.
If an elimination race at a brand new track weren't already enough of a recipe for chaos, drivers are predicting a slugfest on a super slick, unforgiving track, and most are expecting more drivers to be behind the wall than on the track by the time the checkered flag waves.
If the predictions are true, Sunday's race could essentially be like a restrictor-plate event from a DFS standpoint. I'm not quite sure it will be that bad, and overall, I think the top road course racers should have an edge. Still, the place differential category could be very valuable, and any stronger options starting in the back need heavy consideration. Likewise, there could be several surprise drivers who pull out decent finishes simply by surviving to the finish.
With that in mind, starting positions are going to carry a ton of weight this weekend, and I could see going with mainly one-dominator lineups depending on how qualifying plays out. Make sure to check back after the field is set, but in the meantime, here is a closer look at my top DFS picks for Sunday's Bank of America Roval 400.
Kyle Busch ($11,400)
He is fast at pretty much every type of track on the schedule, and that includes the road courses. Busch owns four road course wins overall, and he has finished seventh or better in eight straight road races, leading laps in seven of them. Busch has a pair of Top 5s in the two road races this year, and he led 31 laps at Watkins Glen. Another Top 5 and some more dominator points are probably in the cards this weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. ($11,100)
Truex is dialed in at the road courses right now, picking up two wins and a second-place finish in his last three starts. He has also led a series-high 115 laps over the last four road course events alone, leading more than 20 laps in three of those races. Truex is probably your best bet for a bunch of dominator points this weekend.
Chase Elliott (10,500)
You could see Elliott building to a breakout performance at a road course, and he has emerged as a true force this season. He finished fourth at Sonoma, and he backed that up with an impressive win at Watkins Glen when he led a race-high 52 laps. After two strong showings, Elliott looks like one of the top dominator candidates heading into Sunday's race.
Clint Bowyer ($9,500)
His price tag could limit his appeal to GPP contests unless he qualifies deeper in the field, but Bowyer has an excellent road course resume. In fact, he has three Top 5s in four road course starts for Stewart-Haas Racing and hasn't finished worse than 11th. The only problem is that he hasn't led any laps in those races, so you can't bank on many dominator points.
Kurt Busch ($9,000)
He has been the model of consistency at the road courses, and over the last 10 road course events, Busch's 7.1 average finish is the best in the series. He has eight Top 10 finishes during that stretch, and his worst finish is 12th. Busch will become a must-own driver if he has some place differential upside after qualifying, but he should be one of the safest options no matter where he starts.
Daniel Saurez ($8,100)
There isn't a huge body of work to go on, but Suarez has a 9.5 average finish in four road course starts. He has finished in the Top 5 in two of those starts, and he has never finished worse than 16th. Suarez is an easy choice if he qualifies in the back half of the field, but even if he starts towards the front, you have to consider him as a mid-priced, GPP play.
A.J. Allmendinger ($7,700)
This is a little cheaper than I was expecting to see Allmendinger, and it makes it a lot easier to roll the dice on the ultimate boom-or-bust DFS play at the road courses. His road racing skills are undeniable, and over the last 10 road aces, he has led the second-most laps. He also has a 21.4 average finish and four finishes outside the Top 30 in that same stretch.
Erik Jones ($7,400)
In one of the bigger underpricing travesties of the year, Jones' salary is ridiculously low for someone with three Top 10s in four road course starts. Heck, he has finished seventh and fifth in the two road course events this year. Jones has 30-point potential no matter where he starts, and I'm going to have plenty of exposure to him this weekend.
Alex Bowman ($7,100)
His overall numbers at road courses don't jump off the page, but in his two starts with Hendrick Motorsports, he has finished ninth at Sonoma and 14th at Watkins Glen, gaining eight spots in both races. This price tag is pretty inviting for someone with Top 15 potential, and if he starts in the middle of the pack or worse again, I'll pull the trigger.
Chris Buescher ($6,700)
Since teaming with road racing ace A.J. Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing, Buescher has finished in the Top 20 in all four of his road course starts, finishing 12th or better twice and gaining at least six spots in two of the las three road races. As long as he starts in the back half of the field, he should be one of the top low-priced plays.
Michael McDowell ($6,100)
He is one of the more underrated road racers in NASCAR today, and while his equipment limits his ceiling, McDowell has still managed to finish 21st or better in the last five road course events, and he has a couple of Top 15s in that span. Qualifying will go a long way to deciding his value, but if he starts deeper in the field, he should be a safe way to safe some cap space in cash lineups.
Daniel Hemric ($5,600)
Hemric will be making just the second Cup Series start of his career, but he has delivered at the road courses in the XFINITY Series this year, posting a 7.3 average finish in the three races and notching third-place finishes at Mid-Ohio and Road America. Hemric will also be running the XFINITY race at the Roval this weekend, and that added experience could be an advantage on a new track. If he qualifies outside the Top 25, I'll take a chance on him as a GPP punt play.
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