NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Cup Series long-awaited return to Road America


This weekend we plunge into a 14-turn, 4.048-mile journey into the unknown for the Cup Series. Well not completely unknown, but it has been nearly 65 years since the NASCAR Cup Series raced here in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Considering how different the stock cars are now, there's literally no comparison. Lauded as one of the most challenging tracks in the world, Road America is virtually the same today as it was when it was first laid out. Although the track will be new for many Cup drivers, NASCAR Xfinity Series has competed here 11 times at since 2010.
This Week's Pick Strategy: That's good news for 28 of the 40 drivers entered in this weekend’s Cup race who experience here in the Xfinity Series. Four of these driver posted wins here: Austin Cindric (2020), Christopher Bell (2019), Michael McDowell (2016) and AJ Allmendinger (2013). Although they don't have a win for their effort both Ross Chastain and Josh Bilicki have seat time with five starts each at Road America. 
I'm going to factor in previous experience when picking my drivers this race and weigh heavily on the drivers doing double-duty racing in both the Xfinity and Cup Series races: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Josh Bilicki, Justin Haley, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
Drivers with Most Top 10s on Road Courses (9 races)
Running the 750 Horsepower Package (2018 and 2020)
Chase Elliott - 7
All with 6 - Alex Bowman, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 5 - Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney

Includes Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Circuit of the Americas, Daytona Road Course, Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International 

   Note: Includes active and inactive drivers

 Top 25 in Practice

Note: * Required to qualify on time, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series. No driver ran 10 consecutive laps.
The Likely Suspects:  My road course aces include: Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, and Joey Logano.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is Kyle Larson. My next choices are Martin Truex Jr. Chase Elliott, the Busch brothers, and Tyler Reddick. I will complete my team with AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe.
My Final Four: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and AJ Allmendinger.
Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Ryan Blaney. Ryan is one of the five drivers who can clinch their spot in the playoffs with a win. In addition to that motivation, he was the fourth fastest in practice and knows his way around a road course. This could be his race to win.

Last week's second-look driver Chris Buescher had a disappointing performance at Pocono Raceway finishing 20th in the first race and 19th in the second one. The No. 17 showed some speed in the first race, but got some damage during Stage 1 and the team never quite got the car back to where it needed to be to compete. In the second race he got bitten by the fuel mileage game. Chris restarted inside the Top 10 at lap 96, but ultimately had to pit for fuel late which led to the 19th-place result. 
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 4th, and your final picks by 2:30 p.m. ET.
Enjoy the race!

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat, or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Cup Series long-awaited return to Road America NASCAR Fantasy Fusion:  Cup Series long-awaited return to Road America Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Saturday, July 03, 2021 Rating: 5