Road courses are like snowflakes: They are all created differently and that’s what makes them so much fun.
Road America is a behemoth of a course with 14 turns and a little over four miles in distance. As one would expect on a course that size, there are some impressively long straightaways, and with them comes several great passing zones.
One might be tempted to believe this track is prone to allowing the leaders to separate from the competition, but over the course of the past several years, everyone has put so much more effort into road racing that the field remains tight. It’s hard to lose a lap at Road America.
The stages this week are evenly distributed and that allows teams to break the race into quarters. As is always the case on road courses, the winning strategy most often goes to the driver who makes his final pit stop first. But there is a risk of short pitting too aggressively. The four-mile length of this track makes this about twice the size of most road courses and if a driver runs out of gas anywhere in the first half of the track, he’s not getting back without help. Consideration has to be made for NASCAR overtime.
Enjoy this race. Road America could be two-and-done. Rumors are circulating that the Kwik Trip 250 could be replaced as early as next year with a street course race in Chicago.
1. Chase Elliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
($11,100 DraftKings | +500 win | -145 top-five)
Sometimes the algorithms take over and create some oddities, which is the only reason we can come up with for why Elliott is cheaper than Larson in the DraftKings game. Their relative position makes more sense on the sportsbook with the No. 9 driver currently 200 points lower than the No. 5. By now, Elliott’s bonafides need little justification, but the highlights are that he has seven wins and 12 top-fives in his last 17 road course races. He’s also the defending winner of the Kwik Trip 250.
2. Ross Chastain ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($10,300 DraftKings | +800 win | +110 top-five)
Only four drivers have swept the top 10 in the first two road course races this year. Chastain’s win at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) was not a huge surprise because he entered that weekend with a three-race streak of top-fives at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Chastain ran well there at COTA the year before. He backed that victory up with a seventh-place finish at Sonoma Raceway. Last year, he had three top-10s, including a seventh at Road America.
3. Kyle Larson ⭐⭐⭐
($11,400 DraftKings | +700 win | -120 top-five)
Larson’s salary cap this week is almost as high as it was for Nashville Superspeedway, but it’s a little less ridiculous given how strong he was on this track type in 2021. Unfortunately, he has not been able to stay out of trouble in the first two twisty-track races this year and his best result of 15th at Sonoma was marred by a loose lugnut that has him competing without four crew members for the second of four weeks.
4. Ryan Blaney ⭐⭐⭐
($9,200 DraftKings | +1200 win | +150 top-five)
Blaney is sneaky good on road courses. It’s easy to forget he’s even at the track until the closing laps and then, more often than not, he’s listed on the backside of the top 10. Blaney is another driver with top-10s in both of his road course attempts this year; in fact, they show identical results of sixth. With four slots open and nine races remaining before the playoffs, the pressure continues to build for winless drivers and that will make Blaney’s crew chief very creative regarding strategy.
5. Martin Truex Jr. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($9,600 DraftKings | +1200 win | +150 top-five)
Recently we’ve been discounting Truex on new road courses. All his wins and nearly all of his top-fives came at Sonoma or Watkins Glen International and he’s lost that aura of infallibility. What potentially makes this week different is that he’s coming off one of his best runs at Nashville. For the second week, the team employed a strategy that didn’t work, but in the middle stages of the Ally 400 Truex looked like he might join the winners’ brigade.
6. Austin Cindric ⭐⭐⭐
($8,500 DraftKings | +1500 win | +180 top-five)
Cindric was so good on road courses during his Xfinity career, that Team Penske made COTA, Road America, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course part of his pre-rookie warm-up. From 2019 through 2021, Cindric scored five wins and 12 top-fives in 15 Xfinity road course races. Two of the outliers were sixth- and eighth-place finishes. He was never outside of the top 15. Last year, he ran strong on the road courses, but couldn't quite seal the deal until he benefited from the high attrition at Indy to get his first of three consecutive road course top-10s.
7. Kevin Harvick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($8,100 DraftKings | +3000 win | +400 top-five)
No matter where it comes, the victory that breaks Harvick’s long winless streak is going to be a surprise. He deserves more than passing attention this week because he was one of four drivers at Sonoma who were battling to punch their ticket to the playoffs. Harvick didn’t seriously challenge for the win there, but he was solidly in the top five throughout the third stage. He benefited slightly from lugnut issues for Elliott and Larson, but even without their problems, Harvick would have easily earned a top-10 finish.
8. Christopher Bell ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($8,900 DraftKings | +1500 win | +200 top-five)
Road courses have always been considered wild cards. That was hammered home in spring 2021 when Bell surprised the field with his first Cup win on the Daytona International Speedway road course. Since then, he’s been alternately strong and snake bit on road courses with a second at Road America last year, a third at COTA this spring, and two other top-10s countered by four results outside the top 20. The difference this week will come down to desire, because he is currently only two positions above the playoff cutline.
9. Tyler Reddick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($8,600 DraftKings | +2500 win | +300 top-five)
Reddick is not the first driver who springs to mind on road courses, and you can use that to your advantage. Since this track type has become a great place for drivers to get their first wins, with Daniel Suarez, Chastain, and Bell doing so in the last two seasons, a bold bettor might want to place a modest bet on Reddick’s outright win odds of 25/1. They will want to cover that with a slightly larger wager at 3/1 for a top-five. Where Reddick will be of greatest value is in the DraftKings game, however, because his cap is only slightly above the average cost per player.
10. Kurt Busch ⭐⭐⭐⭐
($8,700 DraftKings | +3000 win | +400 top-five)
Like Blaney, Busch tends to sneak up on the competition on the road courses. In 51 starts on the twisty tracks, he has one win, 14 top-fives, and 26 top-10s. His victory in the 2011 Sonoma race came with Team Penske, but he’s also logged top-fives for James Finch and Barney Visser, which suggests it was the driver and not the equipment that was experiencing success. In two starts with 23XI Racing, he has not yet cracked the top 10 on the course type, but he was fourth last year at Road America in what is essentially the same team when it was under Chip Ganassi’s banner.