Ally 400 Cheat Sheet

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With only one race in the books at Nashville Superspeedway, we are still trying to figure out exactly how we should handicap this event. The surface is abrasive like Darlington Raceway, Dover Motor Speedway, and Bristol Motor Speedway – and for the moment the stats on these four tracks seem to be similar enough to use them as comparatives.

There is the ever-present caveat, however, that not much has been predictive in the first season with the NextGen cars. Sixteen races into 2022, we have had enough surprises that nothing is truly shocking any longer and that is underscored by 12 different winners and no one being dominant enough to capture more than two victories.

We are hitting a period in the schedule where repeat winners should become more prevalent, but Daniel Suarez’s victory at Sonoma Raceway and Kurt Busch’s Kansas Speedway were not exactly predictable. Moreover, since Nashville is still a new track, the playing field is more level that it has been on a course hosting dozens of Cup races.

Still, predictions must be made and here are ours.

1. Chase Elliott
Elliott's only win so far in 2022 came on the concrete high banks of Dover. He followed that up with a fifth at Darlington, which gives him the best record on this track type so far this season. (57)

2. Ross Chastain
A humbled Chastain took responsibility for his on-track incidents with Denny Hamlin and Elliott at World Wide Technology Raceway, but he is still going to have to keep an eye on his rearview mirror whenever they are around. (18)

3. Kyle Larson
Larson won the inaugural edition of this race and finished either first or second on every rough-surfaced track last year. A finish of sixth at Dover and 36th at Darlington in 2022 tell a different story, however. (9)

4. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has the longest active streak of rough track top-10s by a wide margin with 11 consecutive results of ninth or better. Before his winless streak became a topic, he had four victories on this course type in 2020. (30)

5. Joey Logano
It wasn't pretty, but Logano won the last race on a rough track when he booted William Byron out of his way as they came to the white flag. (67)

6. William Byron
Byron scored top-fives in four of the five races on this track type last year, but failed to back that up in the first two races of 2022 with a 22nd at Dover and 13th at Darlington. He's lost his momentum and needs to regain it before the playoffs. (35)

7. Denny Hamlin
Last year, Hamlin scored four top-10s in five rough-surface races, but his 21st at Nashville and a pair of 21st-place finishes at Dover and Darlington this season make us a little cautious. (4)

8. Martin Truex, Jr.
After winning on one of five rough-surfaced tracks last year and finishing in the top-10 three times, we had greater hope for Truex this season. His best effort on this track type in 2022 was a 12th at Dover. (41)

9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The NextGen car has created opportunities for drivers to surprise the field and grab a playoff spot. Stenhouse came close at Dover with a second-place finish to Elliott. 64

10. Alex Bowman
Bowman has been an all or nothing driver on rough-surfaced tracks with six results of sixth or better in his last 14 races counterbalanced by seven results outside the top 15. (82)

11. Daniel Suarez
Occasionally a dramatic win like Suarez experienced at Sonoma opens a floodgate. That would be nice to see, but even without that boost, the driver of the No. 99 enters Nashville with back-to-back, top-15s on rough-surfaced tracks. (15)

12. Austin Dillon
Toss out his 23rd-place finish in the Goodyear 400 in the 2022 edition and a 16th last year in that same race, and Dillon has a perfect record of top-15s in the past two seasons on rough-surface tracks. (33)

13. Tyler Reddick
Reddick has had a couple of shots at winning his first Cup race this season and one of these came on the rough-surfaced Darlington Raceway when he was second behind Logano. (25)

14. Christopher Bell
Bell is currently three positions above the cutoff line and cannot afford to see any driver below him in points win. On rough-surfaced tracks this year, he earned a fourth at Dover and sixth at Darlington. (38)

15. Chris Buescher
After flipping at Charlotte and being forced to sit out Gateway because of COVID-19 protocols, Buescher came back with a vengeance and nearly won the Save Mart 350k at Sonoma. (44)

16. Kyle Busch
In the past two seasons, Busch has struggled on rough-surfaced tracks with only two top-10s and an average of 19.6. Play it safe where the No. 18 is concerned. (11)

17. Ryan Blaney
This is not a particularly strong track type for Blaney. In the past three seasons, he has only two top-10s on rough-surfaced tracks and his best effort of 2022 was a 17th at Darlington. (72)

18. Brad Keselowski
In better equipment, Keselowski finished seventh at Darlington last year and was sixth at Bristol. His two rough-surfaced races in 2022 have been 20th and 34th. (50)

19. Bubba Wallace
It seems Wallace cannot catch a break this season, but as soon as he puts his bad luck in the rearview mirror, he could start to contend for top-15s. He's going to need a win to be part of the playoffs, however. (88)

20. Erik Jones
Jones entered Darlington with back-to-back top-10s on rough-surfaced tracks and was running well at Darlington before he was eliminated in a Lap 262 crash. (46)

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21. Kurt Busch
For the moment, Busch cannot afford to count on his race win to get him in the playoffs. He is the lowest ranked driver among the winners and there is still a chance for 17 or more in the regular season. He needs to consistently outrun Austin Cindric to create a buffer. (22)

22. Chase Briscoe
In seven starts on rough-surfaced tracks, Briscoe has not yet cracked the top 10, but he's been close on three occasions with top-15s, including a 12th at Dover this spring. (27)

23. Aric Almirola
Almirola's fourth-place finish in last year's edition of the Nashville race was accompanied by a solid Driver Rating and Average Running Position, but it's his only top-10 on a rough-surfaced track in two years. (84)

24. Todd Gilliland
Gilliland is not the first driver who comes to mind most weeks, but he has shown consistency that should put him on your radar with five consecutive top-25 finishes in his recent 2022 attempts and a best of 15th in that span. (78)

25. Michael McDowell
Last week was a great opportunity for McDowell to stake a claim for the Playoff 16, but it's not out of the question that he could punch his ticket on an oval. In the Goodyear 400 at Darlington, he finished seventh. (61)

26. Harrison Burton
The book on Burton is still pretty thin, but he has a pair of top-25s on rough-surfaced tracks this year in two starts and a best of 14th in the high-attrition race at Darlington. (53)

27. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie's 18th-place finish in the Drydene 400 is one of three top-20s in his last five attempts on rough-surfaced tracks. He deserves a lot of attention as potential filler for your fantasy rosters. (75)

28. Cole Custer
Three top-15s at Dover and Darlington in the past two seasons give Custer's fans a reason to be hopeful, but they don't outweigh the rest of his record on rough-surfaced tracks. (86)

29. Justin Haley
We would like to be encouraged by Haley's third-place finish in the Goodyear 400, but with such high attrition in that race, it's difficult to put much stock in it. Then again, he finished 11th at Dover and this organization shows a lot of promise. (7)

30. Ty Dillon
While the No. 42 was one of the benefactors of the high attrition at Darlington, Dillon's 12th-place finish there will give him a little added confidence on a similarly rough track in Nashville. (80)

31. Austin Cindric
Early indications are that this will not be a particularly good track type for Cindric. He sustained crash damage at both Dover and Darlington. That means he has not yet cracked the top 15 on rough-surfaced tracks. (70)

32. Cody Ware
Sometimes the best thing a driver can do is survive. Ware not only did that, but he stayed on the lead lap in Darlington and scored a top-20 finish on one of NASCAR's other rough-surfaced tracks. (90)

33. BJ McLeod
The rough tracks have not been particularly kind to McLeod in 2022. In two starts, his best finish of 32nd came at Darlington; he was 35th at Dover. (89)

The number in parentheses after the handicap refers to our confidence level for that driver compared to the field. A low number does not necessarily mean we do not have confidence this week, but that contrasted with the others in the field in previous races, we have missed more often in their handicaps. Starting with a confidence level of 90 percent, because 100 is impossible to achieve, this number decrements by percentage to a low of five.

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Cheat Sheet: Goodyear 400 [Darlington]
Drydene 400 [Dover]
Ruoff Mortgage 500k [Phoenix]