The Roval will either be completely unpredictable, or it will behave like a regular road course race. There’s not a lot fantasy players can do about the first option, so decisions need to be made based on drivers’ record at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
Once that choice is made, fantasy players need to decide whether they believe the more technical track of Sonoma or the flat-out, fast Watkins Glen is the best measure of how drivers will fare.
The answer is not so simple.
The interior portion of the track is going to favor drivers who run well at Sonoma, but half of the circuit will be contested on the oval and that is going to favor speed and acceleration. Most experts believe that the majority of passing will take place at the heavy braking points, and if that is truly the case, then lean toward Sonoma as the difference-maker.
1. Chase Elliott
If Elliott manages to stay out of trouble and earn enough stage points to put himself at ease in the final segment, he will win back-to-back road course races.
2. Kyle Busch
Last week's victory at Richmond gives Busch the opportunity to go for broke at the Roval. He enters the weekend with eight straight top-10s on road courses.
3. Kevin Harvick
Seven of Harvick's last nine road course races ended in the top 10. More importantly for this week's handicap: He won at the technical Sonoma Raceway in 2017 and finished second this year.
4. Martin Truex Jr.
This team may yet slump before the end of the year, but it's unlikely to happen on the Roval. His last three road course starts netted two wins and a second.
5. Kurt Busch
Consistency is what got Busch into the playoffs and it has been a hallmark of his road course career. He enters the weekend with 12 consecutive top-12 finishes on this track type.
6. Clint Bowyer
His 11th-place finish at the Glen was disappointing for Bowyer. He expected much more based on the three road course top-fives that preceded it.
7. Erik Jones
Jones has gotten progressively better in each of his Cup road course attempts. He has three top-10s so far in four races and should be able to add another.
8. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has nothing to lose this week since he is already locked into Round 2 of the playoffs. That could be a double-edged sword for a driver who has not had a road course top-10 in his last three tries.
9. Daniel Suarez
In four previous starts on road courses, Suarez's worst finish has been a 16th. That came on the technical Sonoma Raceway. On the high-speed track at the Glen, he's swept the top five.
10. Kyle Larson
Larson simply needs to survive this race if he wants to move on to Round 2 of the playoffs. He is not great on road courses and has only two top-10s in 10 previous starts.
11. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin is a great road course racer, but this season he has struggled to finish in the top 10. He was 10th at Sonoma and 13th at the Glen after winning the pole.
12. Joey Logano
Logano has a reputation for being a strong road course racer based on five consecutive top-six finishes from 2014 through 2016. He has not earned a top-10 on this track type in the past two years, however.
13. Ryan Blaney
He swept the top 10 last year on road courses, but Blaney's best result in 2018 was a 12th at the Glen. He was 34th this summer at Sonoma.
14. Aric Almirola
Almirola finished sixth at Vegas and fifth at Richmond. He needs to play it a little safe this week and that could cost him a shot at the top 10.
15. Alex Bowman
Bowman has made the most of his Hendrick opportunity this year with a pair of top-15s on the road courses.
16. Chris Buescher
The key to success most weeks is in finding a player who flies under the radar. Buescher enters the Roval with four consecutive top-20s on road courses.
17. Michael McDowell
In salary cap games, McDowell is going to be this week's top value. His last five road course attempts all ended in results of 21st or better - including two top-15s.
18. Jamie McMurray
McMurray has a great reputation as a road racer - but that stems from his part-time rides in sports cars and is not based on his recent Cup record.
19. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has been much better at Sonoma than the Glen in recent seasons. That will help him in the interior portion of the Roval, but he's going to lose ground on the oval.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
In small increments, Stenhouse is slowly moving up the roster on road courses. He was 20th last year at the Glen, 18th at Sonoma this spring, and 16th at the Glen this August.
21. Ryan Newman
Newman can be incredibly difficult to pass on an oval. On road courses, he has only one top-15 in his last five attempts.
22. Paul Menard
Last year, Menard swept the top 20 on road courses with a best of 11th at Sonoma. This year, he hasn't cracked the top 25 in two starts.
23. William Byron
It's too soon to know precisely what to expect from Byron on a road course. In two starts at the Cup level, he finishes 25th at Sonoma and eighth at the Glen.
25. Austin Dillon
Dillon has a 10-point advantage over the 13th-place driver. Look for him to gamble for stage points this week. That could hurt him at the end of the race.
26. AJ Allmendinger
With this week's announcement that Allmendinger will not return with the No. 47 next year, the driver has one last chance on a road course to prove his mettle.
27. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto is not the first driver who comes to mind on road courses. That could make him one of this week's top values because he has two top-25s in his last two Sonoma starts.
28. Ty Dillon
If he fits a comfortable salary cap niche, Dillon might finish somewhere in the mid-20s based on his previous road course record.
29. David Ragan
Ragan's last three road course starts resulted in finishes of 22nd to 27th. He should cross under the checkers in that same general range this week.
30. Bubba Wallace
While he hasn't set the world on fire on road courses, Wallace has finished in the mid- to high-20s in both of his Cup starts this year.
32. Landon Cassill
Two of Cassill's last three road course starts ended in the low-30s. Last month, he finished 31st at the Glen with this team.
33. Cole Whitt
Whitt's last three road course races ended in consistent results. He finished 35th at Sonoma this spring and was 34th in his last two attempts at the Glen.
34. Justin Marks
This will be Mark's Swan Song in the Cup series. He will be up on the wheel with his elbows out to make certain that it's a memorable race.
35. Ross Chastain
Strong runs in the Xfinity series have given Chastain added confidence that is paying off in his Cup races. His only Cup road course attempt to date ended in a 32nd at the Glen this year.
36. Daniel Hemric
Hemric will make his second Cup start this season. His debut at Richmond in the spring netted a 32nd-place result.
37. JJ Yeley
Yeley could be a little rusty this week. The last time he raced on a road course was in 2015 and that year he finished 41st and 30th for BK Racing.
38. Timmy Hill
With only one previous start to his credit on a road course and a 38th-place finish, Hill is not the first driver who will come to fantasy owners' minds.
39. Stanton Barrett
It is fitting that a stunt car driver should be in the inaugural Charlotte Roval race. Everyone thinks this could devolve into a demolition derby.
40. Jeffrey Earnhardt
This will be completely unchartered waters for Earnhardt. He has not yet made a start in the Cup series on one of the twisty tracks.