The NASCAR Xfinity Series is back in action this weekend and we hit the Oregon trail with 75 laps around the road course layout of Portland International Raceway. The big news coming out of NASCAR this week was the announcement of Stewart-Haas Racing shutting its doors at the end of this season. 




Obviously, that’s a bit surprising as SHR was considered one of NASCAR’s “Big Four” teams for the last decade-and-a-half. But the team hasn’t been winning too much in the Cup Series and with both Gene Haas and Tony Stewart invested in other motorsports series, they made the difficult decision to close their doors at the end of the season.

We won’t dwell too much on the negative news currently. But that does put Cole Custer and Riley Herbst in a bind as they’re the two current SHR drivers in the Xfinity Series. Custer, the defending Xfinity Series champion, likely gets another Cup Series opportunity at some point. And Herbst has plenty of funding and backing with Monster Energy so it’s likely he also lands on his feet somewhere.

Pacific Office Automation 147 NASCAR DFS Lineup Picks

We are set for the Xfinity Series second road course race of the season as they head out to the Pacific Northwest. These races are a bit unpredictable and, while road courses are fun for building NASCAR DFS lineups, we should exercise some caution.

The 2022 Portland race obviously had more low points than high points. The weather was horrendous, there were numerous cars off course, and even Jesse Iwuji was bumping Ty Gibbs despite being multiple laps down. A.J. Allmendinger, a noted road course specialist, got the win despite not dominating the race.

The 2023 Portland action delivered better weather but still plenty of chaos with Daniel Hemric catching fire. But Cole Custer did go to victory lane in this race last year and looks for the repeat once again in 2024.

The big problem we run into will be the lack of regular pit crews available to these teams this weekend. The Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series are racing at Gateway (St. Louis area) this weekend. So, the full-time pit crews are with those organizations.

What does this mean for the teams in Portland? With “skeleton crews” we have modified pit road rules that can be found here via a helpful tweet from Bob Pockrass. The big takeaways are that cars are required to be “in the pit box” for a minimum of 63 seconds. So whether adding fuel or changing tires, or both, you must be “in the box” for 63 seconds so well-funded teams don’t gain a significant advantage. And overall, it’s a safety concern with newbies on pit road.

The lineup building strategy largely plays out the same for most road courses. We are targeting position differential and upside. We shouldn’t completely ignore dominator points, but we aren’t prioritizing them as much as normal. When we account for cautions, we are likely looking at just under 50 dominator points available to us on DraftKings.

I will note that in the two very different Portland races we’ve seen so far, there has been one driver to lead 40+ laps, and those are valuable if the driver can still win or even finish top five. But again, we largely want drivers that can move up from where they start, or drivers that carry win equity and can put up a big score by finishing well.

I will provide updates in RED as well as paste copies of the practice notes once we know the starting order for Saturday’s race. We currently have just a 20% chance of rain for this race and considering we’re road racing in the Pacific Northwest, I’ll take those odds.




Top Price Core Plays

A.J. Allmendinger ($10,700) and Shane Van Gisbergen ($10,500)

It has not been a very good year for Kaulig Racing. Truthfully, the organization has gone backward the last couple seasons. Has the departure of Justin Haley, of all people, hurt this team from top-to-bottom? Probably not. But Haley, to his credit, saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship.

Nowadays we’re only really considering Kaulig Racing on road courses. SVG was $4,000 cheaper last week at Charlotte but is priced up this weekend because of the track type. He started P2 at COTA earlier this year and despite finishing 27th, we should keep in mind he led 20 laps. And COTA has proven to be a high-variance road course and we know he’s capable of winning as we saw at Chicago last year in the Cup Series.

I don’t know what else needs to be said about Allmendinger on a road course. He won this race two years ago and similar to his teammate, he also led 20 laps at COTA just a couple months ago. Allmendinger also has wins in the last three years on courses like the Charlotte Roval, Mid-Ohio, Indy Road Course, COTA, and a trio of runner-up finishes at Watkins Glen. We may not like them on ovals, but this is Kaulig’s best shot at going to victory lane.

Update: So we have some developments. SVG starts P2 and has win equity and dominator potential. We had to assume he would qualify well. Allmendinger qualified for the final round but he did go off track and sustained damage to the rear of the car. So he is scored from P10 but will drop to the rear and go to a back-up car. I actually do like the prospect of Allmendinger in tournaments because dropping to the rear of the field may just suppress his ownership and he isn't going to offer a ton of PD being scored from P10. And yet, he still has a little win equity.

Cole Custer ($9,700)

Truthfully this isn’t a terrible price for the driver who won this race last year. Sure, it was a race without Allmendinger, but a win is a win. Custer may also have a little extra motivation this weekend considering he’s going to be looking for a new opportunity for 2025. But he’s the defending Xfinity Series champion and has name recognition.

He finished fourth at COTA and was consistently running in the top 10 all day. Plus, two of his wins last year came on road/street courses although there’s some debate about the merit of his Chicago win since it wasn’t an “official” race per NASCAR’s rules.

He still put up strong results last year at Indy, Watkins Glen, and the Roval. There’s a little win equity and he’s under $10K for just the second or third time all season and he easily warrants consideration ahead of qualifying.

Justin Allgaier ($9,500)

I know the recent form on road courses has definitely been better for Allgaier’s teammate, Sam Mayer ($10,300), but that’s not to say Allgaier isn’t good on these layouts either.

Allgaier led 23 laps in a runner-up effort at this track last year and he finished fifth in 2022 during the Portland monsoon. He wasn’t particularly great at COTA earlier this year but was top five at Indy the last two years, led 42 laps last year at Road America (but finished 18th), and he led 10 laps at the Roval last year before getting caught in a wreck. 

Historically speaking, he’s not known as a road course specialist. But something within the data over the last couple seasons indicates that there is upside here whether we get a good finish, or he gets out front and leads laps.

Update: Allgaier rolls off P5 and his teammate, Sam Mayer, will start on the pole for this race. The broadcast did note that the last 13 Xfinity Series road races have been won by drivers starting in the top five so I do like both drivers a good bit.



Mid-Price Core Plays

Austin Hill ($9,000)

This is a cupcake pricing job on Hill for this week. We love Austin Hill on drafting tracks where he usually costs a premium, but $9,000 for a road course? Let’s dig in… Hill has finished top five in the previous two versions of Portland, and you can say what you want about the weather in 2022, but he had a driver rating of 122.5 when he finished third that year and posted a 106.6 score last year when he finished fifth.

Moreover, he finished second at COTA back in March to Kyle Larson. Similarly enough, he finished third and fourth the last two years at Road America and was top five last year at Indy and Chicago. Is there much win equity? No, not really. But there is top five potential and a similar run to what he did two months ago at COTA could return 50+ fantasy points depending on where he starts. Update: Still really like the play but he starts P18 so that'll raise his ownership a bit.

Chandler Smith ($8,200)

I was actually considering putting Sage Karam ($7,700) in this section as this course probably caters to his strengths more than they do for Smith’s. However, while the road course background is nice, Karam hasn’t always been a consistent finisher in the races when he does compete.

So, I’m giving the edge to Chandler Smith for $500 more. The equipment is easily more reliable (Joe Gibbs Racing > Sam Hunt Racing) and I actually like that he was teammates with A.J. Allmendinger for a full season. Anytime we were at a road course last year it did seem like Smith would constantly pick Dinger’s brain for tips and tricks.

The results haven’t always been there, and truthfully, I have talked myself into believing the next driver in this article has a higher ceiling. But Smith finished eighth at COTA with JGR and last year he was able to move up through the field at tracks like COTA, Sonoma, Chicago, Watkins Glen, and the Roval. At the very least we’re getting a driver in some of the best equipment in the field at a severe discount. 

Update: Smith, like Allmendinger, will drop to the rear of the field because he sustained some damage in practice and the team had to make repairs. Play at your own risk. Ryan Truex, for $400 more, is a viable pivot if you can afford him.

Jesse Love ($7,800)

I don’t write up Jesse Love all that much, but with a lot of “obvious” plays in the field, I want to go a little off-the-wall with this recommendation. Love is incredibly young at just 19 years of age, but he’s already gone to victory lane this season and he’s one of the top prospects in the Chevy pipeline. I also think he might have some road course upside as well.

Two months ago at COTA he started P14 and finished sixth which was good enough for 46 fantasy points on DraftKings and he was actually $400 more for that race. Now that is his only road course experience in the Xfinity Series. However, he flashed a lot of upside on road courses at the ARCA level. In 2022 he started P9 and finished fifth at Mid-Ohio and follow that up with another top five finish, this time finishing third at Watkins Glen.

Last year, in the same series, he started P19 and finished fourth at Mid-Ohio and then started P4 and won the race at Watkins Glen where he led 36 laps. So, if we’re looking to potentially “buy low” and get ahead on a driver who may be a solid road course racer, let’s consider Jesse Love this week. And we know we’re also getting a discount on strong equipment similar to his teammate, Austin Hill.

Update: Really Love this play. Yes, the pun was intended. Hoping rostership isn't too high but I'm excited about what he can do especially with Allmendinger and Smith dropping to the rear.

Brandon Jones ($7,500)

Certainly feels like this could be a trap, as are most weeks when Jones looks like a good play. However, he is scored from P20. We're still waiting to see if he drops to the rear of the field but even if he does, this car potentially has top 10 upside. And similarly enough, I think you can also plug Sage Karam into builds as well. He rolls off P16, but has top 10 potential even if he does underperform and not deliver on good finishes. But the potential is still there.



Value Price Core Plays

Jeremy Clements ($6,900)

There isn’t too much that’s spectacular about Clements. However, I do think he’s worth mentioning because one of his career wins in the Xfinity Series did come at Road America a long time ago, so I do elevate him a bit on road courses.

Earlier this year he started P24 at COTA and finished 19th. Last year he grabbed top 20 finishes at COTA, Chicago, and Indy while finishing 22nd at Portland. Sure, we probably need a little chaos for him to provide value. Ideally, we need him to start outside the top 25 because if he starts inside the top 20, then his best-case scenario is to finish where he started.

Update: Qualified P27. He is certainly in play.

Austin Green ($6,600)

Green grabbed a top 10 with Jordan Anderson Racing earlier this year at COTA and is back with the team for a run at Portland. He’s a young driver with a road racing background having competed in the Trans-Am Series since 2021. For this race he will be back in the 32-car for JAR and on a low-key level I think this organization invests a little more when they go to road courses. 

But Portland is tricky because teams don’t have full-time pit crews and the costs to get teams across the country might weigh a little heavier on these smaller teams with less funding. He and the rest of the organization will be worth monitoring in practice and qualifying but I love the upside and hope we get a similar run to what he did at COTA.

Update: Starts P25 and if he can run a clean race, I think he has a top 15 finish in him.

Kyle Weatherman ($6,000)

This is a road course after all, and I’d be a fool to not mention at least one DGM Racing driver. As I’ve written in previous articles previewing road courses, DGM can set up their cars very well. Alex Labbe was always a favorite cheap road ringer of mine and this week I’ll give Weatherman some attention. Weatherman may have only finished 29th at COTA but he did have an average running position of 21st which looked solid after he started P32.

Last year with a few different organizations he had solid runs on road courses gaining 11 spots at COTA, 18 at Chicago (weird race), 18 at Road America, nine at Indy, and 20 at Watkins Glen. I do believe this is his debut at Portland but when you combine the team and his ability to move up at these tracks, I think we’re looking at a solid play ahead of qualifying.

Blaine Perkins ($5,100)

I’m happy to punt down to Perkins because it doesn’t even feel like a punt. He’ll be running with RSS Racing this weekend and earlier this year he started P36 and finished 22nd at COTA.

Last season with Our Motorsports he grabbed top 20 finishes at Portland, Chicago, and Road America. RSS Racing might just be a slight step ahead of Our Motorsports depending on the track, but if he starts deep in the field once again, he could be a value play with 30+ point upside.




Pacific Office Automation 147 NASCAR DFS Driver Pool

Top TierAJ Allmendinger ($10,700; Starting P10) - Drops to rear
Shane Van Gisbergen ($10,500; Starting P2)
Sam Mayer ($10,300; Starting P1)
Cole Custer ($9,700; Starting P4)
Justin Allgaier ($9,500; Starting P5)
Mid-TierAustin Hill ($9,000; Starting P18)
Ryan Truex ($8,600; Starting P13)
Chandler Smith ($8,200; Starting P11) - Drops to rear
Jesse Love ($7,800; Starting P12)
Sage Karam ($7,700; Starting P14)
Brandon Jones ($7,500; Starting P20)
Value TierJeremy Clements ($6,900; Starting P27)
Ryan Sieg ($6,700; Starting P24) - Lukewarm Play
Austin Green ($6,600; Starting P26)
Kyle Weatherman ($6,000; Starting P23) - GPP Only
Brennan Poole ($5,800; Starting P28)
Blaine Perkins ($5,100; Starting P31) - Punt