William Byron – Rookie, William Byron won’t be suffering from his normal lack of experience disadvantage this week. On the Charlotte Roval everyone is a rookie, and that bodes well for him. The Roval is a mix of Sonoma and Watkins Glen. At Sonoma he struggled and finished 25th, at Watkins Glen he ran well and finished 8th. Between the two I think Sonoma is a little more relevant because I think the technical aspects of the track is what will separate the pretenders from the contenders. On Sunday I’m going to project him to be a mid to high-teens driver.
Austin Dillon – At Charlotte, I think Austin Dillon will likely be a high-teens driver. At NASCAR’s two other road courses his track records are pretty different from each other with him being historically better at Sonoma. At Sonoma his average finish is 18.0 with him finishing between 16th to 18th in 4 of his 5 races. Earlier this year he finished 16th there. At Watkins Glen his average finish is 27.2 with him finishing 26th or worse over the last four races. In August at that venue he finished 27th. One attribute I do like about Austin Dillon is that when it comes to attrition races I think he typically seems to fair pretty well. On Sunday I think there’s a good chance the carnage rate will be quite high.
Michael McDowell – Michael McDowell is a talented road course racer who should be on your fantasy NASCAR radar at Charlotte. Among low-tier drivers I think he’s one of the best options. In 2017 on this track type he scored the 14th most points and finished in the top 15 both races (14th at Sonoma and 12th at Watkins Glen). This year at road courses his level of performance hasn’t been as high. In June he finished 21st at Sonoma and in August he finished 18th at Watkins Glen. On Sunday I’m going to project McDowell as a mid to high-teens driver.