NASCAR Draft Kit: 2023 Track Specialists

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2023 Track Specialists

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

The NASCAR Cup Series presents as diverse a set of tracks as any racing series in the world. From intermediate ovals to winding road courses, each track has its own special configuration and special set of characteristics. This lineup of tracks is designed to test the NASCAR driver's ability in virtually every racing condition. From the fantasy racing standpoint, it helps to know which drivers succeed at certain facilities. Recent historical information gives us an edge, but we also need to be mindful of current trends and past statistical information in context. We've taken a long look at both and come up with the drivers you need to have at certain style tracks in 2023 for fantasy racing success. Here is our breakdown of track specialists to watch closely in the upcoming season. This analysis is particularly helpful for weekly lineup leagues and daily fantasy racing.

Short Track Specialists

These stats are based on tracks ¾ of a mile in length or less and include: Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

  1. Christopher Bell           

      Car: #20                  

      Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol40012
Martinsville61012
Richmond50034
Career Totals151058

With a late-season win at Martinsville and Top-5 finishes at Bristol, Richmond and Dover, Bell found himself as one of

The NASCAR Cup Series presents as diverse a set of tracks as any racing series in the world. From intermediate ovals to winding road courses, each track has its own special configuration and special set of characteristics. This lineup of tracks is designed to test the NASCAR driver's ability in virtually every racing condition. From the fantasy racing standpoint, it helps to know which drivers succeed at certain facilities. Recent historical information gives us an edge, but we also need to be mindful of current trends and past statistical information in context. We've taken a long look at both and come up with the drivers you need to have at certain style tracks in 2023 for fantasy racing success. Here is our breakdown of track specialists to watch closely in the upcoming season. This analysis is particularly helpful for weekly lineup leagues and daily fantasy racing.

Short Track Specialists

These stats are based on tracks ¾ of a mile in length or less and include: Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

  1. Christopher Bell           

      Car: #20                  

      Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol40012
Martinsville61012
Richmond50034
Career Totals151058

With a late-season win at Martinsville and Top-5 finishes at Bristol, Richmond and Dover, Bell found himself as one of the top short track performers of last season. Sure, he doesn't have the career-long numbers on these bull rings like some of the veteran drivers. However, Bell is quickly carving out a strong reputation for short track racing. In his three-season career he's already amassed a better-than 50-percent Top-10 rate at these small tracks. The win at Martinsville late last season helped to propel the driver of the No. 20 Toyota to the championship round of the Chase at Phoenix. We expect Bell to continue piling up the impressive stats in short track racing going forward. He's the next emerging star in the Joe Gibbs Racing camp and will be a title contender for years to come. Much of that success will be built on Bell's short track excellence. 

      2. Chase Elliott          

      Car: #9              

      Owner: Hendrick Motorsports                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol120146
Martinsville151159
Richmond140056
Career Totals41121421

Elliott may have pulled up short in his pursuit of a second championship, but his short track racing was not to blame. The Hendrick Motorsports star was one of our best short track performers of 2022. Elliott would nab a big victory at Dover, a runner-up finish at Bristol and a Top-5 finish at Richmond. His 363 laps led on tracks one-mile or less in size was among the elite in the NASCAR Cup Series. Elliott will look to continue his good work on the bull rings in 2023. He and crew chief Alan Gustafson have been zeroed in on these ovals to this-point and that excellence should continue for years to come. We expect to see more victories for the No. 9 team is this style of racing and some of those could come in the 2023 campaign.

      3. Ross Chastain         

      Car: #1              

      Owner: Trackhouse Racing                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol60001
Martinsville80022
Richmond80001
Career Totals220024

Chastain's stats in the table above don't appear overly impressive, but realize most of his success on these ovals came in 2022 alone. The breakout of the Trackhouse Racing team last season helped Chastain to success on all tracks, but short tracks were also a part of that picture. The veteran driver led 166 laps on ovals of one-mile in size or less and he grabbed Top-5 finishes at Phoenix, Martinsville and Dover. Richmond was really the only short track last season where Chastain struggled. He also grabbed his first-career Top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway with his sixth-place finish last summer. The future is bright for the No. 1 Chevrolet team with a veteran of over 150 Cup Series starts behind the wheel. Chastain is finally enjoying wild success for the first time in his NASCAR career, and the short tracks will play a big part of that going forward.

      4. Kyle Busch       

      Car: #8              

      Owner: Richard Childress Racing                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol33821419
Martinsville35221721
Richmond34611827
Career Totals1021654967

Busch may have had a down season in 2022 by a lot of measures, but he maintained a high level of performance on the circuit's short tracks. His lone victory of last season came on the Bristol dirt, but that wasn't all. Busch nabbed six Top-10 finishes on tracks of one-mile in size or less. That kept his average finish on these ovals at a respectable 13.6 for the season. The new Richard Childress Racing star is a near-legendary driver on NASCAR short tracks. His 16 combined victories between Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond rank him among the very best of the active drivers. Busch's 67 Top 10's at these tracks come in at a powerful 66-percent rate over a lengthy 18-season career. The veteran driver should be able to hit the reset button this season and start fresh with his new team. Of the ovals he should experience early success on will be the bull ring circuit.

      5. Denny Hamlin       

      Car: #11            

      Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol3224916
Martinsville34541723
Richmond32431721
Career Totals9811114360

Hamlin is one of the strongest performers of the modern era on short tracks. His 11 victories in a 17-season career rank him among the elite in NASCAR's top division. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota maintained that high level of performance last season in the new generation stock car, grabbing an early-season win at Richmond and posting three Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes on ovals one-mile in size and less. With close to 300 laps led on these ovals, Hamlin wasn't just playing follow the leader. He was out front and quite a lot. These performances only added to what was already an impressive career resume on these small ovals. Now boasting a 61-percent Top-10 rate at Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond, Hamlin is an elite performer when the NASCAR Cup Series visits these tracks. We certainly don't see that changing in 2023.

      6. William Byron       

      Car: #24            

      Owner: Hendrick Motorsports                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol80023
Martinsville101046
Richmond90012
Career Totals2710711

While last season was a bit of an up-and-down campaign overall for Byron, he did maintain a high level of performance on the short tracks. You could say it was these ovals that helped to buoy his overall performance in 2022. The Hendrick Motorsports youngster grabbed an early-season victory at Martinsville, and he posted three Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes on tracks of one-mile in size or less. The average finish checked in at a razor sharp 8.9, which was second only to Ross Chastain and Kevin Harvick on these tracks. With now five full seasons of competition under his belt in the Cup Series, Byron is beginning to carve a reputation out on these bull rings. Martinsville Speedway has been easily the best of these, but he's playing catch up very quickly at the circuit's other short tracks. Byron will be a top performer for years to come in this aspect of the Cup Series schedule.

Road Course Specialists

Although road courses are a smaller percentage of the overall schedule they can be a huge factor in a fantasy racing championship as NASCAR is shifting the schedule more in this direction.  The circuit's road courses in the 2023 schedule include: Chicago Street Course, Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, IMS Road Course, Charlotte Roval and Circuit of the Americas.

  1. Chase Elliott           

      Car: #9                  

      Owner: Hendrick Motorsports                 

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma60024
Watkins Glen62244
Charlotte Roval52023
COTA21022
Indy Road Course20011
Road America21122
Daytona Road Course21011
Career Totals25731417

Oddly, Elliott didn't win any of the six road course events in 2022. It was the first time he's been locked out of victory lane on these tracks in a season for a long time. However, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet maintained a very high level of consistency and performance on these tracks despite going winless. Elliott grabbed two pole positions (Road America & Watkins Glen), led 121 laps and grabbed three Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes on these circuits. The 9.0 average finish across the six events speaks for itself. Those stats only bolstered what are remarkable career numbers to this point for the seven-season veteran. Elliott now boasts incredible 56- and 68-percent Top-5 and Top-10 rates on the NASCAR road circuits, and despite going winless last year, his win rate is at a remarkable 28-percent. There is no other driver in the series even comparable to Elliott in terms of road course performance.

      2. Tyler Reddick         

      Car: #45              

      Owner: 23XI Racing                   

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma20000
Watkins Glen20002
Charlotte Roval30012
COTA20112
Indy Road Course21111
Road America21012
Daytona Road Course20000
Career Totals152249

Reddick had an incredible season in 2022 on the winding circuits. He's now etched his name among the elite in the series going forward in terms of road course performance. The young driver grabbed two victories (Road America & Indy GP Circuit) as well as three Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes. The only circuit he struck out on last year was Sonoma. Reddick now moves to 23XI Racing and will look to carry on this high level of performance on road circuits. That shouldn't be a problem. With now three seasons of Cup Series experience under his belt, Reddick is becoming a seasoned young driver. The stats in the table above are enviable for any driver let alone a three-season driver. Any time you can crack the Top 10 at a 60-percent rate on a particular style track, it's considered elite level. 

      3. Christopher Bell         

      Car: #20              

      Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma20000
Watkins Glen20002
Charlotte Roval31012
COTA20011
Indy Road Course20000
Road America20011
Daytona Road Course21011
Career Totals152047

Bell had a well-rounded season in 2022, and an aspect of that performance was his road course racing. The Joe Gibbs Racing youngster grabbed a victory at the Charlotte Roval near the end of last year and he posted two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes on these style tracks last season. Bell is now cracking the Top 10 on these tracks at a very respectable 47-percent rate for his young career and only getting better as we go. We anticipate a big season ahead for Bell and the No. 20 team. He's on the rise and a part of his excellence in 2023 will be on these road courses. Bell could easily steal another victory and he'll certainly post multiple Top-5 and Top-10 finishes in these six events in the upcoming season. He's a driver to deploy on these tracks in weekly lineup and salary cap format games.

      4. Kyle Larson        

      Car: #5              

      Owner: Hendrick Motorsports                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma81412
Watkins Glen82035
Charlotte Roval41011
COTA20011
Indy Road Course20011
Road America20011
Daytona Road Course10000
Career Totals2744811

While Larson's 2022 season didn't quite measure up to standards in some respects, his road course racing was a mixture of highs and lows. Still, the Hendrick Motorsports star grabbed a pole at Sonoma and an important victory at Watkins Glen, to bolster his career totals on these tracks. Larson would only post two Top 10's in the six events, which was a bit perplexing considering how good he's been on road circuits in recent seasons. We would credit much of this inconsistency to the new generation stock car and the adjustment period that last season was for many drivers. Now armed with that experience we should continue to see Larson be the threat to win on these tracks that he's been in the recent past. Obviously, per the table above, Larson has a fondness for the older NASCAR circuits of Sonoma and Watkins Glen above the newer courses on the circuit.

      5. Ross Chastain       

      Car: #1              

      Owner: Trackhouse Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma30002
Watkins Glen40000
Charlotte Roval40000
COTA21022
Indy Road Course20000
Road America20012
Daytona Road Course10000
Career Totals181036

One of the more surprising road course performers of last season was Chastain and his No. 1 Chevrolet team. The journeyman driver had an incredible, breakout season in 2022 and a big part of that jump in performance was his stellar road course racing. Chastain won an incredible, last lap, three-driver battle to win at COTA early in the season. He also posted a pair of Top 5's and three Top 10's on these style tracks last year. Chastain did have some struggles at times, which tempered his road circuit performance. However, in whole it was a great effort and boosted his potential going into 2023 on these style tracks. Chastain's career numbers on road circuits pale next to other drivers in this ranking, but make no mistake, he's a driver to watch closely in this form of racing going forward in the new generation stock car. 

      6. Daniel Suarez      

      Car: #99              

      Owner: Trackhouse Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma51011
Watkins Glen50033
Charlotte Roval50000
COTA20000
Indy Road Course20000
Road America20011
Daytona Road Course20000
Career Totals231055

Suarez joined his teammate, Ross Chastain, at Trackhouse Racing in having a breakout season on the road circuits in 2022. The driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet staged an impressive and dominant performance at Sonoma last June to win the Toyota Save Mart 350. Suarez also posted Top-5 finishes at Road America and Watkins Glen for good measure. Many fans and fantasy racing players alike may not realize that Suarez has a background of racing on road courses in Mexico before coming to the NASCAR Cup Series. Given the good race cars that he had in 2022, the results came easily for this six-season veteran. We expect to see this trend continue going forward. Trackhouse Racing is on the rise, and Suarez definitely has the road racing gift. We should begin to see his career totals rise on these winding circuits in the future.

Superspeedway Specialists

As with the road courses, the superspeedways represent a small portion of the overall schedule.  However, these tracks are raced twice a season, so the stakes are much higher.  The circuit's superspeedways include: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

  1. Ryan Blaney          

      Car: #12                  

      Owner: Penske Racing                 

      Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona151046
Talladega172046
Career Totals3230812

Blaney went winless last season for the first time since 2016, but he did manage to hold up top performance on the superspeedway ovals. The Penske Racing driver grabbed two of his 12 Top 5's last season in these races and he finished inside the Top 15 of all four Daytona & Talladega events. In addition, Blaney led 90 laps on the superspeedway ovals, once again proving he's a leader and not a follower in this style of NASCAR racing. His best performance of the season was the last superspeedway event of 2022 at Talladega, where Blaney led 31 laps and finished runner-up in the YellaWood 500. The driver of the No. 12 Ford is a threat to win each time NASCAR goes racing on these high-risk ovals. Blaney has a knack for partnering with the right drivers and has mastered the timing of when to go to the front late in these events.

      2. Chase Elliott        

      Car: #9              

      Owner: Hendrick Motorsports                   

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona140324
Talladega142257
Career Totals2825711

Elliott continued building his growing superspeedway resume last season. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet would grab a second-career superspeedway victory with his big win at Talladega late in the season. He'd also led 41 total laps between Daytona & Talladega, collecting three total Top-10 finishes in the four events. The average finish of 11.8 in this high-risk form of racing speaks for itself. Elliott now has a 39-percent Top-10 rate between these two huge ovals, which is pedestrian at best, but it's getting better with each season. The fact that he seemed to master the new generation stock car on these ovals in 2022 is a great sign of things to come. When NASCAR goes superspeedway racing in 2023, Elliott is going to be a mandatory part of your fantasy lineups in all weekly and salary cap based leagues.  

      3. Denny Hamlin      

      Car: #11              

      Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona34301112
Talladega34201015
Career Totals68502127

The three-time Daytona 500 winner is a near-legendary superspeedway performer at this point in his career. Hamlin's five-career wins between Daytona & Talladega are impressive as well as his 27 total Top 10's. There are few active drivers in the Cup Series that can boast these kind of stats at the two challenging tracks. While 2022 was a bit of a down season for Hamlin in the Next-Gen car at these tracks, there were still ample signs of excellence waiting to break out. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota led 42 combined laps at Daytona & Talladega, but was rolled up in two multi-car accidents that would affect his performance. The best indicator of all was his last look at one of these ovals in October's Talladega event. Hamlin would lead 20 laps and finish fifth-place in the YellaWood 500. By our estimate, this is a sign of things to come from this driver and team.

      4. Austin Cindric      

      Car: #2              

      Owner: Penske Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona31022
Talladega20001
Career Totals51023

The surprise winner of last season's Daytona 500 checks in at #4 in these track specific rankings. Cindric would shock the world with his upset win as a rookie in last year's Great American Race, but it wouldn't be all that surprising considering the team. The No. 2 Penske Racing Ford team of former driver Brad Keselowski had a long and successful career on these superspeedway ovals. Keselowski has seven-combined victories between Daytona & Talladega and most of them come with the No. 2 team. Cindric now inherits this potential and he proved with his two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes in these races that he's up to the task. The young driver brought a respectable resume of racing these tracks forward from the Xfinity Series, and it looks like Cindric will continue to prosper at NASCAR's top level.

      5. Bubba Wallace    

      Car: #23              

      Owner: 23XI Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona110044
Talladega101011
Career Totals211055

Wallace grabbed a surprising Talladega victory in 2021 and he followed it up with steady performance on these ovals in 2022. While the 23XI Racing driver didn't win, he did grab an attention getting runner-up finish in last season's Daytona 500. That was his fourth Top-5 finish in 11-career Daytona starts (36-percent Top-5 rate, 12.4 average finish). Talladega has been a bit stingier with the good results for Wallace despite yielding his lone superspeedway win. Still, Wallace posted 16th- and 17th-place finishes there and stayed out the many accidents that riddle those Talladega events. The 29 laps led on these ovals was also another very positive statistic to point out. We believe Wallace has a good handle on what it takes to succeed in superspeedway racing, and these solid results should continue into 2023.  

      6. Austin Dillon    

      Car: #3              

      Owner: Richard Childress Racing                  

      Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona192149
Talladega190125
Career Totals3822614

Dillon carried on his strong career record of performance in these Daytona & Talladega events. The Richard Childress Racing veteran would grab a surprise victory in the summer Daytona race and Dillon would finish a brilliant runner-up in the spring Talladega event. The No. 3 Chevrolet was fast for these races, but more importantly, Dillon knew the key to success was the timing and when to make the move late in these high-risk events. His two-career wins at Daytona put him in select company, and even pay tribute to his predecessor in the No. 3 car, Dale Earnhardt Sr. Dillon managed a strong 10.3 average finish in these four superspeedway races of last season, and that's a strong statistical indicator. We expect Dillon to continue turning in good superspeedway performances in the upcoming season, and to be an outside threat to win at these huge ovals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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