The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series are back on sacred racing grounds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for some road course racing, and I couldn’t be more excited. I love this track. Yes, even after the debacle of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series race, we’re back on the road course. The Xfinity Series field is littered with Cup Series drivers like Chase Briscoe (who won this exact race in 2020), Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, and Austin Dillon. But the road courses in 2021 have been dominated by Ty Gibbs and A.J. Allmendinger. Do we see that dominance continue or will one of the Cup Series drivers steal the show? Let’s dive into today’s NASCAR DFS top picks.
Indianapolis’ road course is unique in that it’s probably the flattest road course on the schedule. We don’t get the elevation changes that we see with COTA or Sonoma, but it makes for a visually appealing track on the schedule. Chase Briscoe won this race in 2020 that saw one of the best finishes in recent memory.
We have 62 laps on Saturday so that doesn’t mean we have a ton of dominator points to work with. The stages will be broken into 20-20-22 lap segments. As is the case with road courses, we aren’t focusing too much on dominator points. We want drivers that can finish well, get some win equity, and find PD. Fortunately we have a ton of value plays offering PD and they really make for some fun lineup construction given the variety. One thing to consider when building your lineups, and Matt and I touch on this during this week’s podcast, you want drivers that know they need track position. So getting a driver in your lineup that stays out until the end of the stage for points is not ideal because they’re surrendering track position in the next stage. So consider the Xfinity Series Standings and try to determine who could be racing for a win and who could be racing for points.
Chase Briscoe ($10,600; Starting P6) I hold Indy’s Road Course in high regard because the Xfinity race back in 2020 was phenomenal. One of the most exciting finishes you’ll see to a road course race. And Briscoe happened to be on the winning side of that finish. The price tag isn’t terrible. He has a little PD and we know this car is likely prepped by SHR and it should be fine. The price separation wasn’t too drastic so we can definitely get exposure and win equity in playing Briscoe. He was also in contention to win the Cup Series race a year ago, and let’s not forget this is considered his home track. Even though he isn’t full-time in Xfinity anymore, he wants this win.
Ty Gibbs ($10,400; Starting P2) Gibbs and Allmendinger on the front row of a road course. That was to be expected. Gibbs has three road course wins in the Xfinity Series including his debut in 2021 at Daytona’s Road Course. He also won Road America four weeks ago. So, he’s certainly no slouch. But if you’re playing him you really need him to win and collect some dominator points. I may only play him in lineups where I think he wins in dominating fashion and then I’m targeting PD plays elsewhere. He’s a great driver to pair with Ross Chastain.
Ross Chastain ($10,200; Starting P18) We can probably acknowledge that Chastain is way underpriced. He’s a contender for the Cup Series title and he’s not the most expensive driver in this race? He’s running an additional car for DGM Racing and this team really knows how to set their cars up for road courses. It’s why I love getting exposure to Alex Labbe on this type of track. Chastain won COTA earlier this year in the Cup Series and we’re getting PD on a driver that, in theory, should move up through the field.
A.J. Allmendinger ($10,100; Starting P1) If you’re playing Allmendinger you’re doing so with the mindset that he absolutely crushes it and wins. It’s Dinger on a road course. He’s won the last three Roval races in XFIN. He won Portland earlier this year in poor weather after driving off the track multiple times on the opening lap. He also won COTA back in March. He’s finished second and fourth in the Xfinity IRC race the last two years, but he did go on to win the Cup Series race here last year. He’s a phenomenal road course driver, but he really only has one path to being optimal and that’s to win in a somewhat dominant fashion.
Justin Allgaier ($9,600; Starting P10) It’s weird that a driver who has won three of the last nine races would be just the seventh-most expensive drivers in the field, but I do like the discount on Allgaier for Saturday’s race. He offers some PD and while he isn’t the best road course driver in the field, he does have some wins at Mid-Ohio and Road America on his resume. Granted, the competition wasn’t as great as it is for Saturday’s race. But DFS strategy for road courses is about building a lineup with six drivers that can finish well. Allgaier can certainly do that if he stays clean. You can really consider all of JRM this weekend including Noah Gragson, Josh Berry, and Sam Mayer. All qualified well and looked fine in practice. But for the sake of not writing up every single driver in the field I won’t go in depth. But if building 20 lineups, I’ll be mixing and matching some of these guys.
Austin Hill ($9,000; Starting P9) With all the other drivers in this field it’s possible we get Hill at low ownership. Here’s what is appealing about this play: he has a win at Watkins Glen during his time in the Truck Series where he led 35 laps. He also finished third at Portland while having the second-best driver rating. He also finished second at COTA this year with the third-best driver rating. He also finished fourth at Road America. So in the three road races this year he’s finished incredibly well and we are getting a little PD with him on Saturday too. If you can fit him in and feel good about the lineup, by all means roll it. I’m a big fan of the RCR cars on Saturday.
Daniel Hemric ($8,400; Starting P16) These next two drivers are arguably the same exact play. Hemric isn’t awful on road courses. He was in that unfortunate wreck at Road America (thanks Noah Gragson), but he did have the third-best driver rating at Portland, even in sloppy conditions. He had some top five runs last year on road courses but that was with JGR and the Kaulig cars have had their struggles in 2022 aside from Allmendinger’s two road course wins. Given the variance we know we’re getting with Hemric he’s a GPP play, but one that offers a little PD.
Sheldon Creed ($8,200; Starting P15) It’s looking like Creed may have finally shaken off the rust from earlier in the season. He’s posted 40+ points on DraftKings in three straight races. He hasn’t been great on road courses this year, but he did finish tenth at COTA, and had some awful luck late at Portland. But you can take that race with a grain of salt because the weather was terrible that weekend. We aren’t really getting a discount on Creed, but DraftKings also didn’t do anything to really to raise the cost either. He’s a great mid-range option if you can fit him in. If you need another option in this range you can consider Miguel Paludo for $8,000. He’s a driver JRM brings in for road courses, but he struggled in practice and qualifying on Friday but he has a pair of top ten finishes in the five Xfinity road races he’s run the last two years. But in the other three races he finishes outside the top 20 so you better hope he runs better on Saturday than he did on Friday.
Brandon Jones ($7,600; Starting P36) Jones is the easy chalk to reach for on Saturday. In the two Xfinity races we’ve seen at Indy, Jones has had his share of issues. But he’s had decent results on other road courses. He finished fifth at Road America earlier this month and he had success last year as well on a variety of tracks. There isn’t much win equity, but the PD and price tag alone make him an appealing play and a Cash game lock on Saturday. He’s in arguably the best equipment and you just have to assume they fixed the problems from yesterday. He’s a great Cash game play, but possibly worth being underweight in GPP’s.
Kaz Grala ($7,500; Starting P24) Grala didn’t light it up in practice, nor did he qualify well. But he has a road course background. His results this year may scare casual fans away, but those tracks didn’t fit his strengths. He’s in the 48-car for Big Machine Racing so the car is fine but not without risk. But Tyler Reddick drove it to a win earlier this year. You don’t need to go here in Cash games. You can eat the chalk and go with Jones and Kligerman in this range. But Grala might get low ownership since he’s sandwiched between those two drivers in terms of pricing so he’s a nice pivot in GPP’s.
Parker Kligerman ($7,300; Starting P37) This is a real head scratcher of a price tag. We’re getting some solid discounts on a lot of drivers given how many Cup Series drivers are in Saturday’s field. But Kligerman is a great value. He’s starting deep enough where he can’t kill us with negative points. Plus, he’s probably $1,000 cheaper than where he should be. I also love the fact that this is a driver that gets the absolute most out of his equipment. In the Truck Series a few weeks ago, he won at Mid-Ohio for Henderson Motorsports. That’s a small team with just one full-time employee and a bunch of retired crew members working part-time. Do I think he can move this Emerling-Gase car through the field? Yes. He’s returning 40 points with a top 20 finish. That would be 6X value easily. If he can finish in the top 15, which I think he can do, that’s 50 points. We can’t go 100% with our exposure here because the talent level in this field is wildly impressive, but I think he’s fine in all formats.
Andy Lally ($6,900; Starting P22) Lally is this week’s “nice” play of the week in the Xfinity Series. It’s a road course so somebody is giving Lally the call. He finished 17th at Portland in awful weather and was 14th at Road America. He’s back with Alpha Prime this week and rolls off P22 at an inexplicably cheap price tag. He finished tenth here a year ago and in general is a popular DFS play when he runs in the Xfinity Series. Surely, he’ll garner ownership at this price tag on Saturday and he’s a fine play in all formats. He posted the seventh-fastest lap in practice and starts outside the top 20. He’s an easy driver to write up this week.
Myatt Snider ($6,600; Starting P25) Another driver that is underpriced and starting deep enough in the field where he was an easy path to being optimal. Snider finished second at Portland this year despite the poor weather and he was sixth at COTA. He finished seventh at IRC at year ago and in general, he’s just more comfortable on road courses. The great thing about the value tier this week is we don’t have to dive too deep into the driver pool and there are enough good plays in this range to spread exposure around. Don’t commit too much to one driver.
Alex Labbe ($6,100; Starting P14) Labbe is a very good road racer especially at this price tag. In his last three Roval races he has an average finish of 8.0 and he was tenth at Portland earlier this year. In the two Indy Road Course races he’s finished 13th and eighth. I was very high on the DGM cars heading into COTA but they all had to go and qualify in the top seven thus forcing us to pivot elsewhere. But this team can thrive on this track. For whatever reason, DraftKings priced Labbe down on a track he can excel at. There’s sneaky top ten upside here and if he does that then he could be optimal. He’s a driver I will try to be slightly overweight on in GPP’s since he recorded the third-fastest lap in practice, but there are plenty of other drivers with more PD to work with.
Ryan Sieg ($5,900; Starting P31) I don’t hold Sieg in the highest regard in terms of road course prowess. But in 2022 he’s finished in the top 16 in all three road courses gaining double-digit spots in PD in all three races. He has a chance to do that once again On Saturday given that he’s starting outside the top 30 and is crazy stupid cheap. Sieg should be at least $1,500 more. He should not be under $7,000 and here we have him under $6,000. It’s absurd. He’s hitting almost 6X value with a top 20 finish. The problem is that if the practice speed is any sign of where the car is at then he’ll need chaos to help him move up through the field.
Patrick Gallagher ($5,600; Starting P35) This is a phenomenal price on Gallagher consider he was $5,200 for COTA and $4,600 for Road America and in both those races he posted at least 28 points on DraftKings. He gained 14 spots at RA and eight at COTA in the 38-car for RSS Racing and he’s back in the same ride once again for this race. He’s flirting with being a good Cash game play if he simply finishes 25th but if he finishes in the top 20, which isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, then he could very well be optimal since that would be 38 points. And given how many drivers in this range are discounted, he might be a bit of a contrarian play.
Other Value Options To Consider: For the sake of not throwing everyone in the Playbook, I’ll touch on a few more value options right here. There are a TON of great value plays on the board for this race and it really makes lineup construction pretty fun. Most weeks I’d be fine paying $5,500 for Jeb Burton, but you don’t necessarily need to this week. I think he’s fine in GPP’s but in Cash I’d rather go with Gallagher. Going deeper into the pool with have Kyle Weatherman at $5,200 who has looked great when he’s been in the car for Jesse Iwuji’s team. In the two IRC races previously, he finished 15th and 16th. Bayley Currey is an okay option in this range. He starts deep enough in the field where he can’t really kill you. He could surprise and grab a top 20 finish, but he could also finish 30th and have just an okay day. Ryan Ellis has run seven races this year and finished top 20 in four of them. For $4,900 this isn’t a bad play cause we know the Alpha Prime Equipment is okay but we just haven’t seen too many stellar runs from the drivers they’ve deployed. Ellis hasn’t run a road course this year and his practice speeds were trash so he’s not a lock by any means. I would much rather find the money for Gallagher than any driver in this range, but if you have to go this low then these options have some appeal.
There will be Example Lineups for Saturday’s race and they’ll be posted in the NASCAR DFS Discord Channel no later than 2:00pm ET.
Don't miss this week's NASCAR DFS Podcast as our three-time FSWA NASCAR Writer of the year, Matt Selz, and Dan Malin preview Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series road race from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.