Road Courses and the Chase Elliott Factor

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Chase Elliott is one win away from tying Tony Stewart for second on the all-time wins chart for road courses. He is two away from tying Jeff Gordon at the top of the chart and three from taking sole possession. All three goals are in reach with three road course races remaining in 2021.

Normally, predicting three consecutive wins on any track type would not be advised – but Elliott has already strung four road course wins together in his career. And that number might easily have been six if not for a self-inflicted spin on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.

If Elliott could run the table and win the final three road course races of the season, he would actually have another four-race streak after claiming victory in the most recent event at Road America.

Of course, there is a reason most people would not advise predicting four consecutive wins. It is incredibly difficult to do – and Elliott has already been beaten once in straight-up competition when he simply could not run down teammate Kyle Larson at Sonoma Raceway. Furthermore, the Texas Grand Prix might easily have fallen out of his grasp if it had not been shortened by weather.


A cursory look at the chart below reveals that strong drivers can win on any given Sunday. Elliott’s win total of seven stands out. By comparison to the rest of the field, so does Martin Truex Jr.’s three, but he does not have a victory in the last eight attempts on this course.

Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Larson, and Christopher Bell each have one win in the last rolling five years. Of these drivers, Hamlin is the only one with more than a handful of top-fives.

Winless on this track type in the last five years, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano have a significant number of top-fives that may make them interesting picks next week at Watkins Glen.

Earlier this year we noted something we called the Larson Factor and how that skewed the odds for other drivers in the field while he was on his winning streak. There is also an Elliott Factor at work. For the next two races, Elliott’s odds will be so low that it will barely be profitable to wager on him.

But that will drag the odds for the remainder of the field upward and change the dynamics of bettors’ strategy.

In Modern Day NASCAR, a strong driver can win anywhere. Over the course of the past 12 road course races, six drivers with last names other than named Elliott have won. Another 11 scored top-fives – and that means a slightly different approach to how they called the race might have put them in a position to win. Add the two together and 17 drivers could be on your radar screen this week.

Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, and Chris Buescher have only one top-five each. They will not be overly relevant for the outright win, but if their top-10 odds are in the plus range, they could generate some interest.

The outright win will be a little more difficult, especially since this race was not run last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have done so not already, take a moment to read “A Look Back to Sonoma”. That race had a much more familiar feel to it than the road/oval hybrids and new venues – especially among the top five.

There is your guide for next week.

Concentrate on drivers who have their greatest success at the Glen and Sonoma. You will get a chance to recalibrate the following week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course since new venues have held practice and qualification this season.

That means you should pay particular attention to Truex again, despite the fact that he has not won in a while. One of his most recent victories came at the Glen in 2017 and he finished second to Elliott in the next two races.

Hamlin, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez have a pair of top-fives at the Glen in the past three races – and while Jones and Suarez are in different equipment now, road courses are a great equalizer and it is still possible for them to finish that well again.

You also want to keep a close eye on the current driver of the No. 20 because Christopher Bell proved his Daytona road course win early this season was not a fluke by finishing second at Road America.

Top-notch drivers without a top-five in the past three races at the Glen include Brad Keselowski, Larson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, and Logano. In fact, Logano does not have a top-20 in his last three on this track.

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Road Course top-10s

Last five years (12 races)

Driver

Wins

Top-5s

Top-10s

Chase Elliott

7

9

11

Martin Truex, Jr.

3

7

11

Denny Hamlin

1

8

10

Ryan Blaney

1

4

8

Kevin Harvick

1

3

8

Kyle Larson

1

2

5

Christopher Bell

1

2

2

Kyle Busch

6

9

Joey Logano

5

8

Kurt Busch

4

10

Brad Keselowski

4

5

Erik Jones

3

6

Alex Bowman

2

7

AJ Allmendinger

2

5

Daniel Suarez

2

2

Matt DiBenedetto

1

3

Ross Chastain

1

3

Chris Buescher

1

1

William Byron

4

Michael McDowell

3

Aric Almirola

2

Chase Briscoe

2

Tyler Reddick

2

Ryan Preece

1

Ryan Newman

1

Cole Custer

1

Kaz Grala

1

Laps in the Top-15 thru New Hampshire
Countdown to the Playoffs
Despite the Odds