“Through the Field” is a seasonal column by Elliot Hicks. It follows the NASCAR season and provides broad driver analysis to support season-long, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and NASCAR betting. Elliot is in his fourth season writing the column and sharing his perspective on life with the In-Between Media (IBT) community. This edition, he analyzes drivers’ streaks to predict them staying hot or cold following this weekend’s Echopark Automotive Grand Prix.
We’re starting off this edition of the column with a physics lesson.
Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
How exactly does this relate to the NASCAR Cup Series and your ability to make some coin from it? Hold on, I’m getting to that.
We’re far enough into the season now that drivers’ streaks mean something. If you have a rough first race or two, you can’t take much from that. But drivers who have done either really well or really poorly in the first five points races of 2023 could be well on track to staying hot, in motion toward an even hotter summer run, or remaining cool on the track and in the standings.
The nice part is that this weekend’s Echopark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas is a bit of a wild-card race since the road courses are different than ovals (you may not have known the physics law, but hopefully, you at least knew that). As a result, the streaks could be given a break one way or another.
So along with a breakdown of some hot and cold drivers, I’ll give my verdict and DFS predictions as to what direction I think they’ll come out of Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
(Prices courtesy of DraftKings)
Drivers Running a Hot Streak Going Into Echopark Automotive Grand Prix:
Alex Bowman ($8,600): Up until a last-run move gone wrong, Alex Bowman was well on his way to earning a fifth top-10 finish in as many races in 2023 at Atlanta. His No. 48 team would also have the points lead if not for the penalty assessed to all Hendrick Motorsports cars at Phoenix – which could still be reversed or amended upon appeal. Bowman isn’t traditionally thought of as a road racer, but his runs are better than you think, and he’s also running the Truck Series race for extra track time.
Verdict: Stays hot.
Corey LaJoie ($5,100): A certain analyst on “The Backroad,” as well as the site founder will be happy to see a Corey LaJoie mention in the column this week. I’ve long been fading Spire Motorsports, but LaJoie’s No. 7 team has put up consistent finishes in 2023 better than where we’ve come to expect them to run. Top-20 finishes in four of the first five races, along with a fourth-place run at Atlanta, shows LaJoie will be feeling confident heading into COTA. However, he was 36th here last year and 34th at Sonoma and Road America. Top-20 runs at the Roval and Indianapolis counter the “bad on road courses” argument, but I’m still feeling iffy on Lajoie this week.
Verdict: Cools off, but could turn up the heat back on the ovals!
Drivers Falling on Cold Streaks Going Into Echopark Automotive Grand Prix:
AJ Allmendinger ($9,700): I had to bring up AJ Allmendinger with a road course coming up, but it doesn’t start for a good reason. His No. 16 has been wrecked more times than not this season, and the team hasn’t finished in the top 15 since Daytona. Kaulig Racing has struggled to find its consistency, so having the road course ace at COTA is vital to them this weekend.
Allmendinger was top 10 at four road course races in 2022. He was in the hunt at COTA last year on the final lap and also won at Indianapolis in 2021.
Verdict: Begins a hot streak with a good run here.
Ty Gibbs ($6,600): The past few years, with rule and car changes aplenty, have perhaps been the worst few years to be a rookie in the Cup Series. The uber-talented Ty Gibbs continues to discover this in his first full Cup season. Though the No. 54 earned its first top 10 of 2023 at Atlanta, the team has finished outside the top 20 in three of the other four races.
We know Gibbs is talented on road courses, winning Road America and earning a pair of top-10s on them in Xfinity last year. Yet, the uphill battle may continue to be just as steep as the hill before COTA’s first turn.
Verdict: Stays cool for now but runs much better in the late-season road course races.