NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Circuit of the Americas


Well, I didn't see that coming! Last week's race at Bristol was a wild one, but not for any of the reasons it usually is. We had an all time record number of lead changes on a short track with 54, breaking the old record of 40 set April 14, 1991. Then there was this crazy battle between the track and tires where the tires were on the losing end. 
Coincidentally, crew chiefs and drivers were equally baffled, but there were comments from race teams that they loved it because the results of the race were finally back into the hands of the drivers and race teams, instead of the car. I suspect most of those comments came from race teams with drivers who had late model experience, who are experts at saving tires. In the end, it was Denny Hamlin who drove into Victory Lane for his 52nd Cup career win, his fourth at Bristol. 
This week we get to see the new aero package on a road course, and like at the ROVAL last year, stage ends will include stage breaks under caution. Will we see a road course ringer or a rookie in Victory Lane? Stay tuned!

This Week's Pick Strategy:  
Picking this week is going to be fun. Hendrick Motorsports drivers can all get it done here. In fact, I can't wait to see how practice goes for Chase Elliott. My roster will mix traditional road course elites and those drivers who are proficient at shifting. I'll then add in drivers who always find a way to get through the "S"es and pass in the most usual places. Hmm. Perhaps Ty Gibbs, Ross Chastain, Shane van Gisbergen or Martin Truex Jr.?
Active NASCAR Cup Driver with the Most Top 10s at COTA (3-races; 2021 to 2023)
All with 3 - Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman, and Tyler Reddick
All with 2 - Chase Elliott, Austin Cindric; and Kyle Busch
Active NASCAR Cup Driver with the Most Top 5s at COTA (3-races; 2021 to 2023) 
Ross Chastain - 3
All with 2: Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott; and Tyler Reddick

      SOURCE: NASCAR Media

NASCAR Cup Series 2023 Top 12 in the Driver Standings at COTA
                      SOURCE: NASCAR Media
Last Year's Pole Winner: William Byron
Last Year's Race Winner: Tyler Reddick
The Likely Suspects:  These drivers are earning a reputation as COTA masters: Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch.
My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick is a tie between Tyler Reddick and Ross Chastain. My next choices are Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ty Gibbs, and Michael McDowell. I will complete my team with Shane van Gisbergen and Todd Gilliland.
My Final Four: Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, and Shane van Gisbergen.
Second-look driver: This week's sleeper is Martin Truex Jr. Martin is coming into COTA with some momentum. Last week Martin earned his first Top 5 finish of the season with his runner-up result. He led eight times for a total of 54 laps. And it doesn't hurt that he is pretty impressive at road courses. 
Last season's Sonoma winner, Martin has earned five total road course wins in his career – the second-most among active drivers. He has a total of four wins, 14 Top 5s finishes, and 18 Top 10s at the three permanent road-courses on the Cup Series schedule – COTA, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In his three previous starts at COTA he has one Top 10 – a seventh-place finish in 2022.

Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 23rd, and your final picks by 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 24th.

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 17 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: Circuit of the Americas NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Circuit of the Americas Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, March 22, 2024 Rating: 5