FREE NASCAR DFS COTA Cup Series Breakdown, Cheat Sheet and Core 4

Welcome to my breakdown of today’s Cup Series race from The Circuit of the Americas! Super pumped to be putting out my first article at my new home here at Run Pure Sports! If this is your first time reading my content, then welcome! For those that are new to my content, I tend to be more of a one-lineup type guy that focuses mainly on SE, so you will find my plays and driver pools to be smaller than what you would normally find for content. I like to plant a flag on the guys I like and roll with them. I hope that results in an easy-to-follow game plan for each slate. I also hope to add to your overall understanding of NASCAR and hopefully, I make a racing fan out of you! And this is all provided to you each week, 100% FREE, right here on RPS! I’ll put an end to my prolonged introduction and get to what you are here for the breakdown!


COTA is probably the most technical, and challenging road course that these guys race on in the season. This track was built for F1 cars, it features 20 turns, and is over 3.4 miles long. This is only the second time the series has ever been to COTA, and the first time under dry conditions. Keep in mind when looking at results from last year’s race that it ran in a torrential downpour that resulted in a ton of accidents and very high attrition. Today’s forecast is sunny and dry, so expect a much cleaner and less eventful race. For today’s race, I pulled data from the 7 RC races from 2021. That data combined with practice data and overall performance in 2022 will be what I lean on in making my decisions today. 

One of the most important things to consider as we start to build lineups today is the extremely low lap count. We only have 68 laps scheduled today, which means there are less than 47 dominator points up for grabs. This is way less than what we normally see on a given weekend and has a massive effect on overall scoring and how we approach line-up construction. Let’s take a look at exactly how that lower lap total affected scoring in a few races last season. Below you will find the Top 12 DK performances from last year’s races at COTA, Daytona RC, and Road America. These races were the closest in lap total to today’s race.



The first thing that should jump out is that the most Dom points anyone scored was 11, and no one else scored more than 7 in a race. Pit strategy typically plays a big role in limiting dominator upside as we typically see  a split in strategy before each stage end which will cycle new drivers to the front. The big scores in these races came off the back of large PD performances. It’s clear by looking at these scores that in our builds today we want guys with win equity and guys who can score 10-15 PD points and finish in the Top 5-10. Also notice where some of the lower owned plays were found in these races. You were able to find some solid leverage plays starting in positions 10-20. 

Road courses generally mean we see a ton of chalk and today won’t be any different. This style of racing tends to have a lower variance than other weeks so we don’t have to take huge swings away from chalk, 1 or two pivots per lineup is likely all you will need. The biggest chalk on the slate today is likely going to be Chase Elliott. Chase is a beast on road courses, he has 7 RC wins in 19 career starts and he won the inaugural race here at COTA last year. Chase is always a popular play on RCs as last year his average ownership was 46%. But does he justify that ownership today? Will all that success carry over to a new car? Even with his success last year, he failed to hit 5x value in 4 of the 7 RC races last season. When you look at it through that lens and think of the ownership he is going to carry, a fade becomes very tempting here.

If you’re going to fade Chase then I think the obvious pivot is to one of, or to both, Kyles. Kyle Larson was actually statistically better than Chase on Road Courses last season while scoring 3 RC wins. He also finished 2nd to Chase here last year, and likely would have caught him for the win had NASCAR not called the race early. Kyle Busch is also a great high-end option today. He has been very good every time he has gotten on the track at COTA. He dominated last year’s Xfinity race, he was very strong in the Cup last year scoring 7 Dom points. He was also leading late last year but NASCAR waited until he pitted to call the race. He dominated the Truck race here yesterday and he went out and put up the fastest lap in cup practice. Love the PD and upside on both of these guys.

Cheat Sheet

Below is my Cheat Sheet for today’s Cup Series race from COTA. I have included driver data from the 7 RC races in 2021, along with speeds from practice. Drivers highlighted in green are guys I like today. Chase is blue because I’m fading him. The Guys highlighted in purple are low-owned pivots I like. 

My favorite play on the slate has got to be AJ Allmendinger. $8800 is way too cheap for a road course driver of his caliber. The Dinger won the Xfinity race here yesterday and ran top 10 speeds in practice in the cup car. Kaulig has put some fast cars on the track already this season and you can bet they have this race circled on the calendar as a potential win. Love him from P20, probably going to be pretty chalky but I don’t care.

Ross Chastain is another guy that I think is going to be very popular today starting 16th. Coming off 3 straight top 3 finishes will definitely start getting peoples attention. Trackhouse brought him another fast ride as he was 6th on the speed charts in practice. He had 3 Top 10’s on RCs last season which includes a 4th right here at COTA.

If you’re looking for a low-owned pivot off one of the chalkier options above then look towards Kurt Busch. Kurt is a fantastic RC driver. He got in trouble in the rain here last year which led to a bad result, but he had 4 finishes inside the Top 6 out of the 6 other RC races in 2021. No one is going to play him here starting 11th, love the potential of a top 5 finish at sub 10% ownership.

Hard not to like Erik Jones from P30 this week. That GMS/Petty team has ran really well so far in 2022 and Jones was pretty solid on the road courses last season with 6 Top 20 finishes and a Top 10. I expect improvement even over those numbers on The RCs this season considering the step forward the organization seems to have made with this new car.

Joey Hand is the epitome of a Road Course ringer. He is a sports car racer that has a ton of experience at COTA, and on-road courses in general. The new cars this season are a little closer to the sports cars he’s used to with the larger breaks and wider tires. He showed some speed in this Rick Ware car in practice turning the 14th fastest lap before his tire spontaneously just came apart tearing up his right front fender. He wasn’t able to qualify so he rolls off the grid in dead last. So cheap with a ton of upside in front of him. 

Core 4

Thanks for reading and for all the support! I look forward to sharing my thoughts and content all season long for FREE right here at Run Pure Sports! Good Luck today!



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