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Through the Field: A New Point of View

by Elliot Hicks

Writing this column has changed my life.

No, not really in any profound way that has me praising to the heavens (not yet, at least.) But it’s changed the way I take in each and every bit of NASCAR racing.

Normally, I would just watch the races, enjoy the high-speed event, root for my favorite driver, and move onto the next week, without much thought on anything else.

But as an analyst? It forces you to pay attention to so much more in order to provide quality content (which we always strive to do, of course.)

Following driver and team trends week in and week out quite literally through the entire field (no pun intended) not only helps make that content sound as rational as possible but helps give a greater understanding of the series as a whole. Even the quirks of how fantasy racing works show sides you’d never think of just as a casual fan. The differential points you get for finishing ahead of your qualifying spot in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) formats are a complete game-changer. If you’ve seen our YouTube series, “The Backroad,” you know I’ve already mentioned how wild this is at first glance. It can make a crummy driver who started 35th and finished 20th better off than a car that ran top-10 all day.

Sure, sometimes it’s worth throwing out an off-the-cuff prediction or going with your gut feeling on something. But it can be a lot more difficult to do that when there could be up to 40 different game strategies out there, much different than football, where generally, the coaches will come up with a game plan for the particular players. Though of course there are moments of individual quality, the players can be limited by said game plan.

In something like Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), it’s much more individualized; who’s the baddest dude out there and why will they kick the crap out of the other dude?

NASCAR is a hybrid of both of these sports. There can be team strategies and game plans, but in a lot of cases, it does come down to who is the baddest dude out there.

I doubt this is anything prolific that will change your way of thinking, the theme I usually try to put these columns in. No need for a life lesson this week, but of course, there will still be fantasy analysis.

OK, you want a life lesson? Fine.

My favorite driver Alex Bowman is going to race in the Truck Series this week at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Bubba Wallace is racing the Xfinity Series race there. They both need work on road courses. Sometimes it’s worth taking a step back to take two steps forward.

There, are you happy now? Great, let’s get to the analysis.

Drivers to Buy

Road Course Specialists:  This goes without saying with COTA next on the schedule, but four of the next five races are quirkier events; we hit the paper clip that is Martinsville, race on the dirt at Bristol and then onto the fast-high banks of Talladega.

These quirkier drivers such as Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger (when he’s selected to drive Kaulig’s rotating No. 16 car), any car or driver specifically entered for the event and even Chase Elliott – who seems to only be able to win on road courses lately – are worth picking up even in multi-week formats.

Trackhouse Racing:  Don’t look now, but the two Trackhouse cars are the hottest on the circuit right now. Neither Ross Chastain nor Daniel Suarez has won a Cup Series race, but my hot take of the week is that both of them will have made it to victory lane by the next time I write this column three weeks from now.

Drivers to Sell

Joe Gibbs Racing:  I believe I featured this hot take in the past, maybe even at the beginning of this season. And it’s not that any of their four cars have performed particularly badly. They’re just not as dominant as they should be at this point. They’re performing below their value at the moment, is all.

Kyle Larson:  Alright, alright, maybe you shouldn’t take this sell suggestion seriously. Hell, I don’t know that I’d even sell Larson at this point. But I’m just saying it’s worth thinking about in the short term.

Remember how I said the schedule gets quirky the next few weeks? Though Larson can make quirky work, he doesn’t make it work as well as leading hundreds of laps at traditional intermediate races.

Thanks for reading. For more fantasy NASCAR and life advice, follow me on Twitter, @EHicks39, or check out more of my work at Elliot-Hicks.com.

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