The Craftsman Truck Series is back for the second straight week for the first road course race of the season. NASCAR returns to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for the fourth straight year and we get all three series in action this weekend. COTA provides great racing every year as it’s one of the more technical road courses on the schedule. The elevation change, various turns, and that long straight away on the “back stretch” provide a lot for the drivers to contend with. The 38-truck has won all three races at COTA. Todd Gilliland won this race in 2021 and Zane Smith went back-to-back in 2022 and 2023. Does that mean big things for Layne Riggs? I highly doubt it. There are more talented road ringers and even some young, promising prospects making their debut in this race. Here are the drivers and strategies for DraftKings NASCAR DFS lineups for Saturday’s XPEL 225!


As is always the case with road courses, we don’t dwell too much on dominator points. If you consider all the NASCAR races every year, across all three series, this race usually has the fewest laps. Which also means the fewest dominator points. For Saturday’s action we only have 42 laps broken into 12-14-16 lap stages. At the most we might have 25 dominator points available to us for this race. And it’s unlikely that we see one driver collect them all. So if you can collect some dominator points, it’s a bonus. But we aren’t targeting them as much this week as we were last week at Bristol.

We can’t take too much away from Friday’s practice session. They only received 15 minutes, but it was enough for the drivers to at least get a read on what adjustments they may need. No driver was out long enough to determine long run speed, but that typically doesn’t matter too much at a road course. I expect the best teams and drivers to rise to the occasion, but it would surprise no one if there was a little chaos.

A noticeable theme for this race is that we haven’t seen too many drivers start deep in the field and move into the top 15 by race’s end. The inaugural race in 2021 arguably saw the most movers. Four drivers started outside the top 20 and move into the top 15. If you move the goal posts to the top 16, you’ll find Austin Wayne Self started P29 and finished 16th. Six drivers gained 10 spots of position differential but there were enough (13) drivers that gained five spots of PD. The last two races at COTA have been a little more tame. 2022 saw just two drivers start P20 or deeper in the field and move into the top 15. Lawless Alan started P24 and finished 11th while Matt Crafton started P20 and finished 13th. Similarly, we can expand our data range and acknowledge Chase Purdy, Tanner Gray, and Tate Fogleman. They respectively finished 16th, 17th, and 18th while starting outside the top 20. Last year’s race was more of the same. 11 of the top 12 drivers from a year ago started in the top 12. The real “movers” came deeper in the field but they even struggled to crack the top 15. The back markers can certainly make moves but you may be tilting some drivers starting outside the top 25 to crack the top 20.

XPEL 225 Practice Notes

XPEL 225 Core Driver Picks

Top-Price Core Plays

Ross Chastain ($11,000; Starting P5)

Grasping at the low-hanging fruit? Yeah, probably. But he’s the only Cup Series driver in this field. $11,000 might seem steep, especially when we consider that there is better equipment available to other drivers. But alas, Chastain has won here in the Cup Series and he’s an aggressive driver. He also doesn’t need to race for stage points and should go for the win. Niece Motorsports’ equipment is hit-or-miss. And they tend to miss more than they hit. Chastain even commented that he was very loose following practice, but I still love the upside to potentially win and provide 50+ fantasy points.

Ty Majeski ($10,200; Starting P9)

I’m taking a week off from writing up Corey Heim ($10,500; Starting P2). I’m sure he’ll still make some of my lineups, but we know he’s very talented and in great equipment. So let’s feature Majeski this weekend who started and finished third in this race a year ago. Majeski may not see the exposure that Eckes or Enfinger do. Some of Eckes’ results on road courses are worrisome and Enfinger didn’t seem to love his truck after practice. Majeski also has a top three finish at Sonoma on his resume and he led 17 laps at Mid-Ohio last year before finishing seventh. I do trust his equipment more than Eckes and Enfinger, but I’ll mix in all three with slight favoritism to Majeski.

Ben Rhodes ($9,500; Starting P34)

Rhodes is your Cash game lock for Saturday’s race, but be mindful, during practice he heard something “pop” in his truck and his team went to work right away. Could’ve been a shock, which is fixable. However, he didn’t post a qualifying lap. Now we get a two-time series champion offering a lot of that extremely valuable PD. He’s finished top 10 here in all three races and he returns 47 fantasy points if he simply finishes 15th and we know the equipment is good enough for that.

Connor Zilisch ($9,200; Starting P1)

This kid was absolutely lighting it up in the 7-truck for Spire Motorsports during practice. He’s only 17 years old, but he’s on Justin Marks’ radar as a driver to watch in the coming years. Marks is an aggressive, forward-thinking owner that has an eye for talent. Do we possibly see Zilisch drive for Trackhouse one day? While we pump the brakes on that outlandish expectation, we can at least get excited to see what he can do in this race. He posted the second-fastest lap in practice and then laid down a blazing 132.08-second qualifying lap. Sure two minutes seems like a long time, but on a track like COTA that’s insanely impressive. Unfortunately, there’s a big problem. He qualified on the pole and that’s a bit of a red flag for DFS. However, we can still play him if we believe the win equity is real. He certainly has the potential and it wouldn’t be the first time a driver wins in his debut. He doesn’t need to race for stage points and can go for the win in stage three. If he gets you some dominator points, that’s gravy. But we do need him to get a good finish.

Mid-Price Core Plays

Tyler Ankrum ($8,600; Starting P12)

Ankrum just missed out on the final round of qualifying so he’ll start P12. He pretty much ran in this position during practice, but he has shown that he can contend in this series. He’s returned, on average, 46 fantasy points on DraftKings in his last three races and he’s coming off back-to-back top five finishes. Now he offers a little PD and still has top five equity. Ankrum has even finished third, seventh, and fourth in the three Truck Series races at COTA. He has plenty of other top 10 finishes on road courses so he shapes up as the kind of play that can certainly deliver the 40+ fantasy points on Saturday. And if you can’t fit in Ankrum, you can pivot to Stewart Friesen ($8,400; Starting P13) as he has a decent resume on road courses and everyone in this range may be looking at the next driver for more position differential.

Matt Crafton ($8,200; Starting P21)

Crafton hasn’t qualified well the last couple weeks. But hey we attack when the PD is there, right? He’s returned 40+ fantasy points in three of four races and had a very strong showing last week at Bristol recording 20 fastest laps without leading a single one and he grabbed a top five finish. Crafton wrecked in last year’s race at COTA but he has a pair of top 15 finishes in 2021 and 2022. We really need a top 10 finish for 45+ fantasy points, but I think we’d be okay if he finished 12th. We don’t see the trucks run many road courses, but he did finish sixth at Mid-Ohio last year.

Ty Dillon ($7,300; Starting P18)

Dillon actually did put up a top 10 lap in terms of speed, but qualified P18. I don’t want to dwell too much on the practice lap, but even the broadcast noted that the truck looked a bit sporty. Dillon hasn’t impressed much in the Truck Series and that could simply be because the truck isn’t all that good. But he has plenty of experience from the Cup Series even if it hasn’t quite translated to the new gig. He may need some chaos for a top 10 finish, but there’s certainly enough of a floor for a top 15.

Value-Price Core Plays

Jake Garcia ($6,800; Starting P25)

Garcia has finished 14th and 11th in the two non-drafting races. That’s about what we should expect on a week-to-week basis given the equipment he’s in. On top of that this is also the most position differential potential we’ve seen from him this year. There is potential for some chalk here. He’s in solid equipment, he’s affordable, and he offers PD. That’s the holy trinity for NASCAR DFS on road courses. The downside is that he doesn’t have a ton of road course experience and he wasn’t exactly laying down the fastest laps in practice. But last year he did start P32 in this race last year and finished 19th.

Stefan Parsons ($6,300; Starting P19)

It seems a bit risky to go with Parsons, but he showed decent speed in practice and it’s not like the 75-truck for Henderson Motorsports is completely hopeless. Parker Kligerman did pilot this truck to a win at Mid-Ohio a couple years back. But it’s still a small team so we can’t go too crazy with exposure to this play. Parsons does have some solid runs on road courses in the Xfinity Series. In 2022 he drove an Alpha Prime Racing car to a top 20 finish at Watkins Glen. That same year he took a BJ McLeod car from P33 to 21st. Even last year at the Roval with SS Green Light Racing he started P29 and finished 18th. If he can squeeze just a little PD out of this ride and maybe finish in the top 15, I’d be happy with that at this price tag. But I would also consider Bayley Currey ($6,400; Starting P15) who likely carries less ownership while carrying more risk because of his starting spot. But he’ll be riding in similar equipment to Ross Chastain. Neither Parsons nor Currey have any win equity.

Daniel Dye ($5,600; Starting P23)

I also gave consideration to Jack Wood ($5,700; Starting P22), Dye’s teammate, but I’m settling on Dye for now. Wood will make the table below, but we saw Dye drive from P36 last year and finish 18th. He doesn’t offer as much PD this time around, but he even grabbed an additional top 15 finish at Mid-Ohio last year. Wood hasn’t had many good runs on road courses throughout his career. Truthfully, we’ve seen him bust quite a few times, as has Dye. But I’ll dedicate a little more exposure to Dye than his teammate on Saturday.

XPEL 225 NASCAR DFS Lineup Picks

Pricing TierDrivers
Top PriceRoss Chastain ($11,000; Starting P5)
Corey Heim ($10,500; Starting P2)
Ty Majeski ($10,200; Starting P9)
Grant Enfinger ($9,700; Starting P14)
Ben Rhodes ($9,500; Starting P34)
Connor Zilisch ($9,200; Starting P1)
Mid-PriceTyler Ankrum ($8,600; Starting P12)
Stewart Friesen ($8,400; Starting P13)
Matt Crafton ($8,200; Starting P21)
Ty Dillon ($7,300; Starting P18)
Value PriceJake Garcia ($6,800; Starting P25)
Bayley Currey ($6,400; Starting P15)
Stefan Parsons ($6,300; Starting P19)
Jack Wood ($5,700; Starting P22)
Daniel Dye ($5,600; Starting P23)
Bret Holmes ($5,300; Starting P26)