After an intense race in Atlanta, the NASCAR drivers head to Texas for the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix and the first road course on the year’s schedule.
Fantasy NASCAR: 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix
Last week’s Ambetter Health 400 showed off the return of the Fords, as only 39 of the 260 laps were led by a different model. Joey Logano started first and ended in first, though he took a tour through the rest of the field throughout the race. Logano now sits atop the Cup Series standings with a one-point edge over Christopher Bell and five points over Ross Chastain.
With the severe points deduction handed down to Hendrick Motorsports, William Byron (who did not finish in Atlanta) sits in 28th place despite two wins.
While a road race would typically lead to pundits waxing poetic about Chase Elliott’s dominance, he remains out this weekend, so it is someone else’s turn at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix will be the third race at COTA for the Cup Series.
COTA is a 20-turn, 3.426-mile-long road course in Austin, Texas. The race is a mere 68 laps, divided into three stages of 15-15-38 laps. There won’t be many cars going 100 mph at any time, but we will probably get to see 45 mph a few times.
Road courses are an acquired taste, but it is certainly a demonstration of driver skill and competitiveness on a whole different plane.
Here is a look at the drivers with better odds of crossing the finish line first. You might want to focus on these first in season-long formats.
**Reminder that a perfect driver rating is 150.**
**With only two previous races, small sample size issues abound**
The Top Picks
Ross Chastain (#1 Chevrolet) Driver Rating 125.9
Two COTA races and two Top-5 finishes for Chastain leads to unmatched proficiency at this track. He won last year in a thrilling finish that saw him, Alex Bowman, and A.J. Allmendinger fighting to the last inch. Chastain has collected a few stage wins thus far this year, and I think the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix will be the first time we see him smashing watermelons.
Alex Bowman (#48 Chevrolet) Driver Rating 99.7
The style of racing that COTA demands falls directly in line with Bowman’s strengths. While he ended up second, he also recorded an eighth-place finish in 2021 and seemed to have a great handle on how to run this course.
Kyle Larson (#5 Chevrolet) Driver Rating 97.5
Larson is playing “close but no cigar” this season, which is impressive considering he has led the most laps (270) by any driver in the field. But now we head to road courses, and unlike the two guys listed above, Larson has true prowess on road courses of any kind. He holds a 103.8 rating across the board on these tracks, and this could be the week he finally breaks through to the winner’s circle.
Wouldn’t Bet Against Them
Joey Logano (#22 Ford) Driver Rating 97.4
Logano has one Top 5 and one 31st-place finish at COTA, but he’s coming off an exhilarating victory in Atlanta and has won once at Watkin’s Glen, a similar type of course. Logano is not the most prolific of road-course drivers, but there is no reason to think he won’t be in the mix at the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.
Austin Cindric (#2 Ford) Driver Rating 96.1
Cindric typically performs well on road courses, with five Top-5 finishes in nine career races on this track type. He finished a solid eighth place last year at COTA and will look to build on that on Sunday.
Tyler Reddick (#45 Toyota) Driver Rating 95.8
Don’t look now, but Tyler Reddick has finished in the top 5 the previous two races and now heads to the type of track on which he won twice last season. In 15 career road races, he has nine Top-10 finishes, so you can pencil him in on any Top 10 bets you might be wagering this weekend.
The Road Ringers
All systems are a go for deploying the road ringers for the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. Do not forget about either of these guys when building lineups.
A.J. Allmendinger (#16 Chevrolet) Driver Rating 93.9
Allmendinger is the most obvious bet of the weekend and will be a very chalky play, and for good reason. In 32 career road course races, the veteran driver has finished in the Top 10 in half, with seven Top-5s and two wins. But that’s just as a NASCAR Cup Series driver. He adds six more wins when considering the Xfinity Series races as well. He is the most road ringery of the road ringers.
Michael McDowell (#34 Ford) Driver Rating 82.2
In 2022, McDowell had four Top-10 and two Top-5 finishes. He, too, finishes in the Top 10 approximately half the time, according to his historical track type record. If you remember what I talked about last year (you don’t, and that’s okay), McDowell will appear on your screen doing quite well on Sunday. Don’t be the one who thinks, ‘How could I forget about THAT guy?’ So, y’know, don’t forget about him.
I’ll be back Sunday morning with my DFS picks and other thoughts regarding the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. Between now and then, don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter at @thewonkypenguin with any questions, thoughts, or funny GIFs.