NASCAR Draft Kit: 2024 Track Specialists

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2024 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 2024 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. Kyle Larson                  

Car No. 5                    

Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol1511510
Martinsville181146
Richmond182148
Career Totals51431324

For what Larson lacked in terms of luck and being able to close these short tracks races, he made up for in spades last season. The Hendrick

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 2024 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. Kyle Larson                  

Car No. 5                    

Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol1511510
Martinsville181146
Richmond182148
Career Totals51431324

For what Larson lacked in terms of luck and being able to close these short tracks races, he made up for in spades last season. The Hendrick Motorsports star grabbed wins at both Richmond and Martinsville and double his career tally of short track victories. In addition, Larson collected a runner-up finish at Bristol during the Chase playoffs that would help propel him into the championship race at Phoenix to close the season. With all of last season's accomplishments, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet is starting to build an impressive short track resume. Larson is also the current top performer on short tracks of all varieties. His dominant victory in last season's All-Star Race at the newly refurbished North Wilkesboro Speedway easily demonstrated this point, even though that was a non-points exhibition race.

2. Martin Truex Jr.                        

Car No. 19                  

Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   

Toyota: Manufacturer

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol330024
Martinsville36321016
Richmond3531917
Career Totals104632137

Much of Truex's resume on short tracks is built on past success. He's a six-time winner on these three small ovals, but he's also successful on the slightly larger short tracks of Loudon, Phoenix and Dover. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota maintains a high level of performance at all these tracks one-mile in size and less. Truex didn't have a huge season in 2023, but he did manage to snag two of his three wins on smaller ovals (Dover & Loudon). The Joe Gibbs Racing star also collected a Top-5 finish at Martinsville and seventh- and 11th-place finishes at Richmond. All-in-all the veteran driver maintained his high level of performance and consistency on the bull rings. Truex is signed with JGR through 2024, so we expect him to continue reeling in the good results on the circuit's short tracks.

3. Denny Hamlin              

Car No. 11                  

Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    

Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol33341017
Martinsville36541925
Richmond34431822
Career Totals10312114764

Hamlin is nearing legendary status on these small tracks. His 12-career victories between these three tracks leads all drivers ranked in this article. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota reminded everyone how good he is in this style of racing by grabbing his third-career Bristol victory in the fall. He also finished runner-up in the late summer race at Richmond, adding to his impressive stats there. Hamlin also snagged a pair of Top-5 finishes at Martinsville Speedway. To summarize the 2023 campaign of short track racing, Hamlin accumulated a very impressive 8.1 average finish among all ovals one-mile in size and less with near 450-laps led. That's a lot of time out front and a lot of finishing inside the Top 5 or Top 10.   

4. Ryan Blaney                

Car No. 12                  

Owner: Penske Racing                         

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol140025
Martinsville1610810
Richmond150103
Career Totals45111018

We don't normally think of Blaney when it comes to short track racing, but he's starting to carve out a reputation on these small ovals. That has kicked into high gear since NASCAR introduced the newest generation stock car in the Cup Series. Blaney accumulated one victory (Martinsville) and a pair of runner-up finishes at Phoenix, the latter would hand him his first Cup Series championship. It wasn't a stellar campaign in 2023 on the short tracks, but it was certainly very good and much better than he's accomplished in past seasons. It's likely a big reason why Blaney grabbed his first championship last year. The Penske Racing youngster will continue to be a driver to watch closely in 2024 on the circuit's smaller ovals.

 5. Chris Buescher             

Car No. 17                  

Owner: Roush Fenway Racing             

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol141034
Martinsville170002
Richmond151022
Career Totals462058

Buescher's three-win, seventh-place points season in 2023 came completely out of the blue. The performance far exceeded anything he had done to that point in his eight-season Cup Series career. The Roush Fenway veteran exploded and began racing extremely well all on types of tracks and ovals. Chief among those was the circuit's short tracks. Buescher nabbed and impressive win at Richmond and Top-5 finishes at Bristol and Phoenix down the stretch to cement his strong seventh-place finish in the driver standings. He also grabbed respectable 14th- and eighth-place finishes in the two Martinsville races. Now that Buescher has seemingly figured out the new generation stock car, he's racing like a potential champion. We expect more great short track performances from the driver and team in the coming season.

6. Joey Logano               

Car No. 22                  

Owner: Penske Racing                         

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Bristol2721610
Martinsville30151118
Richmond29221318
Career Totals86583046

There were no wins for Logano on the small ovals last season, but his consistency remained at a very high level. The No. 22 Penske Ford team grabbed runner-up finishes at both Martinsville and Loudon as well as additional Top-5 finishes at Richmond and Martinsville later in the season. Logano didn't spend a lot of time out front, leading laps in 2023 on these bull rings, but he was close on the heels of the leaders nearly every week. Logano may not have added to his tally of five-career wins on these small tracks, but he'll just need a nudge in performance in 2024 to start making those wins happen. With a 53-percent career Top-10 rate at these three ovals, you can't question Logano's consistency and skill.

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 2024 schedule include: Chicago Street Course, Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, Charlotte Roval and Circuit of the Americas.

1. Chase Elliott                 

Car No. 9                    

Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma70035
Watkins Glen72244
Charlotte Roval62024
COTA21022
Indy Road Course30022
Road America21122
Chicago Street Course10011
Daytona Road Course21011
Career Totals30731721

For the second straight season, Elliott remained zero in the win column on the circuit's road courses. Given his seven-career wins, that's highly unusual. Still, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet had an interrupted campaign in 2023 due to his early-season broken leg that seemed to affect this team's momentum and performance. Elliott, despite the injury, would still march to three Top 5's and four Top 10's in the five road course events he would start in 2023. One of those would be in impressive runner-up finish on the Indy GP circuit and the other an equally impressive third-place finish in the inaugural Chicago Street Course event. Throw in a Top-5 finish at Sonoma, and you still had quite a season for the Hendrick Motorsports star. As always, he's an ever-present danger to win on these style tracks and a constant face inside the Top 5 and Top 10.

2. Tyler Reddick               

Car No. 45                  

Owner: 23XI Racing                             

Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma30000
Watkins Glen30003
Charlotte Roval40113
COTA31123
Indy Road Course31122
Road America21012
Chicago Street Course10000
Daytona Road Course20000
Career Totals2133613

Reddick stayed hot on the road tracks in 2023 with a dominant win at COTA and an impressive Top-5 finish on the Indy GP circuit. The 23XI Racing youngster also grabbed a pole position on the Charlotte ROVAL. Speaking of starting, Reddick's supreme qualifying efforts is a big reason why he contends to win and finishes these races well. He had one pole and four outside poles in the last season which led to a microscopic 2.8 average start position. Starting up front on these tracks where passing is challenging is ultra-important. Reddick really has taken on the mantra of the biggest threat to Chase Elliott's dominance on the road circuits.

3. William Byron               

Car No. 24                  

Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma50001
Watkins Glen51013
Charlotte Roval60113
COTA30111
Indy Road Course30100
Road America20100
Chicago Street Course10000
Daytona Road Course20001
Career Totals271439

Byron scratched the win column for the first time in his Cup Series career on a road circuit in 2023. He turned in an impressive performance at Watkins Glen and grabbed the victory in the Go Bowling at the Glen. He also registered a surprising runner-up finish at the Charlotte ROVAL. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet fetched more championship points than any other driver in the series on road courses last season. The 8.2 average finish across those six events is reflective of that excellence. While Byron's career averages in this form of racing pale in comparison to other drivers in these rankings, it's clear that the Hendrick Motorsports youngster is finding his groove in road racing. We expect more excellence to come from this driver and team in 2024.

4. Chris Buescher             

Car No. 17                  

Owner: Roush Fenway Racing             

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma70022
Watkins Glen80002
Charlotte Roval60013
COTA30001
Indy Road Course30001
Road America20001
Chicago Street Course10001
Daytona Road Course20011
Career Totals3200412

Since the introduction of the newest generation stock car, no other driver has been as consistent on the road circuits as Buescher and his No. 17 Ford team. Last season alone he compiled five Top-10 finishes in the six events and posted a stellar 7.8 average finish. The previous year he earned an impressive runner-up finish at Sonoma, sixth-place finish at Road America, 10th-place effort on the Indy GP circuit, ninth-place finish at Watkins Glen and sixth-place finish on the Charlotte ROVAL. No wins to account for, but no other driver has been as rock-solid consistent at delivering Top 5's and Top 10's the last two campaigns on the road circuit tracks.

5. Martin Truex Jr.                        

Car No. 19                 

Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   

Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma174067
Watkins Glen1710711
Charlotte Roval60002
COTA30001
Indy Road Course30001
Road America20001
Chicago Street Course10000
Daytona Road Course20011
Career Totals51501424

Truex's excellence at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen is near-legendary status. He has five victories between those two facilities and a good few Top-3 finishes. The Joe Gibbs Racing star grabbed his fourth Sonoma victory this past season and three total Top 10's in the six events. While Truex hasn't enjoyed nearly as much success on the newer road course tracks of the Cup Series, he's held his own at places like the Charlotte ROVAL and COTA. Truex is not nearly as proficient as the other drivers listed higher in these rankings, but he's quite dangerous at Sonoma and Watkins Glen and that something to keep in mind in the weekly fantasy lineup leagues and salary cap leagues.  

6. AJ Allmendinger          

Car No. 16                  

Owner: Kaulig Racing                          

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Sonoma120103
Watkins Glen121158
Charlotte Roval41023
COTA30011
Indy Road Course31012
Road America20001
Chicago Street Course10000
Daytona Road Course10001
Career Totals3832919

The Kaulig Racing veteran nabbed his third-career road course win with an outstanding effort at the Charlotte ROVAL late last season. That was one of three Top-10 finishes for Allmendinger on the road circuits in 2023. The driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet has a bit of a go-for-broke mentality when racing on these style tracks and it can either pay off big or result in a crash and poor finish as we saw twice last year at COTA and the Indy GP circuit. That weighed on his average finish (14.7) but overall Allmendinger's skill and ability in this style of stock car racing makes him a big time selection in fantasy leagues. The probability for payoff far outweighs the risk of his aggressive driving style.

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 No. #12                  

Owner: Penske Racing                         

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona171047
Talladega193068
Career Totals36401015

Blaney not only won last season's championship but he maintained a high level of performance on his favorite tracks, superspeedways. The Penske Racing youngster won the late-season Talladega event which propelled him deeper into the Chase playoffs and the eventual championship. Blaney has sort become an expert at that particular oval with a win and two runner-up finishes in his last three Talladega starts. With 150 laps led and strong 9.9 average finish on these big ovals the last two seasons, you'll challenged to find a more excellent driver in superspeedway racing. Blaney served notice with that late-season Talladega win that he'll be a force for seasons to come on the huge NASCAR ovals.  

2. Chris Buescher             

Car No. 17                  

Owner: Roush Fenway Racing             

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona161057
Talladega170013
Career Totals3310610

Buescher's consistency was not only felt on short tracks and road courses, but superspeedways as well. The Roush Fenway Keselowski veteran would grab a big win at the summer Daytona event for his first-ever victory on a superspeedway. That's not all. Buescher also collected Top-5 finishes in the season-opening Daytona 500 and the spring Talladega event. While his career-long numbers in superspeedway racing look a bit down compared to others in these rankings, we need to put that in context. Buescher is excelling in the here and now on superspeedways and he's a threat to win each time he starts. The driver of the No. 17 Ford and his crew chief, Scott Graves, have figured out how to succeed in the new generation car in this style of competition.

3. Denny Hamlin              

Car No. 11                 

Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    

Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona36301112
Talladega36211116
Career Totals72512228

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 28 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 2023 was a bit of a down season for Hamlin in the new generation car at these tracks, there were still ample signs of excellence waiting to break out. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota led 28 combined laps at Daytona & Talladega, and nabbed a pole position in the spring Talladega race. In addition, Hamlin ended the season on a positive note with a strong third-place finish at Talladega during the Chase playoffs. He's a stalwart performer on these big tracks.

4. Joey Logano               

Car No. 22                  

Owner: Penske Racing                         

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona3010811
Talladega3030911
Career Totals60401722

Last season was a bit of a mixed bag on the big ovals for Logano, but by no means tarnished his reputation in this form of stock car racing. The Penske Racing star managed an impressive runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and a strong fifth-place finish in the summer Daytona date. Logano would have some struggles at Talladega that would lead to poor finishes, despite leading a whopping 51 combined laps in those two Talladega events. All-in-all his homerun potential is ever present on the superspeedway tracks and he will lead a lot of laps and run up front with the leaders. His bad luck at Talladega has weighed on his averages a bit there, but arguably Logano's had more success at that oval than Daytona.

5. Brad Keselowski           

Car No. 6                    

Owner: Roush Fenway Racing             

Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona291047
Talladega30601014
Career Totals59701421

Keselowski's rejuvenation in 2023 was aided by a strong dose of superspeedway excellence. The owner/driver of the No. 6 Ford would crash out of two of the four events, but he'd lead 55 combined laps between Daytona and Talladega and grab a fifth-place finish at Talladega in the spring. Keselowski would turn in his best performance of the season by registering a runner-up finish in the summer Daytona event. Those efforts would only add to what is a very impressive career resume in superspeedway competition. Keselowski's seven wins and 14 Top-5 finishes stand tall among the Cup Series field. There were detractors who thought Keselowski was washed up, especially in this form of racing, after his 2022 malaise. He answered with a resounding "no" after his 2023 campaign.

6. William Byron               

Car No. 24                  

Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              

Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5'sTop 10's
Daytona121123
Talladega120034
Career Totals241157

Byron didn't grab any wins on the big ovals in 2023, but he would display speed and strength in this past season. The Hendrick Motorsports youngster finished the season with a strong performance at Talladega during the Chase. Byron led 12 laps and finished runner-up in the YellaWood 500. He also nabbed Top-10 finishes in both the spring Talladega race and summer Daytona event. Those three Top 10's bolstered his career numbers a bit and made them swing in the right direction. Byron doesn't boast the big career numbers at Daytona and Talladega like other drivers in this ranking, but it's clear that he does possess the superspeedway gift and has some homerun potential in this type of racing.

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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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