Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Cup Series) Predictions, Picks, Betting Odds
- Can Denny Hamlin go 3-for-3 in the opening races of NASCAR Cup Playoff rounds?
- Kyle Busch is looking for two in a row at Texas as the Round of 8 gets intense.
- Kevin Harvick is out of the Playoff and still fuming, but he’s got a shot at Texas.
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Picks
Kevin Harvick to win (+1500) via PointsBet.
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In a race that featured the most heated on-track rivalry in recent years, Kyle Larson won for the seventh time this season in last Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
As impressive as Larson’s victory was—after his No. 5 Chevy threw the alternator belt and lost battery power—the real headline grabber was the continuing feud between Kevin Harvick and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott.
Just past the halfway point, Harvick spun Elliott in Turn 8, causing considerable damage to Elliott’s No. 9 Camaro. But Elliott had the last laugh. As he pursued Harvick into to Turn 1 late in the race, Harvick locked up his left-front tire and skidded into the wall, ending his race and his title hopes.
Though high-speed Texas Motor Speedway isn’t likely to feature deliberate contact, Sunday’s race should provide plenty of drama as the opening event in the Playoff’s Round of 8.
The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 will be contested over 334 laps (500 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 105 and 210 laps. Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the event.
Denny Hamlin Is Looking for Another Stress-Free Path to Next Playoff Round
After collecting seven checkered flags in 2020, Denny Hamlin was winless during the entire 26-race 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season.
The drought ended as soon as the Playoff began. Hamlin won the opening race in the Round of 16 at Darlington and earned an automatic berth in the Round of 12.
Hamlin repeated the feat in the Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he ensured himself of advancement to the Round of 8 with another victory.
Now Hamlin comes to Texas for the first event of the Round of 8, hoping for another early victory. But we think the streak ends in Fort Worth.
Though Hamlin has three wins at the track and has shown good speed on intermediate ovals of late, he has posted only seven top fives in 30 Cup starts at TMS. Though he’s second choice at +600 via DraftKings Sportsbook, we don’t think Hamlin will be first to the finish line on Sunday.
Two-Time Champ Kyle Busch Goes for Two Straight Victories in Cow Town
With a fourth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval, Kyle Busch held onto a berth in the Round of 8. The farther he advances in the Playoff, the more dangerous Busch becomes.
The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is the only active driver with more than one Cup Series championship. He also leads all other active drivers in victories at Texas with four.
Busch is the defending winner of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, and his record at Texas is much more consistent than that of his teammate, Denny Hamlin.
In 30 starts at the track Busch has accumulated 14 top fives. He has won three of the last 10 races at the 1.5-mile speedway.
We like Busch to win on Sunday and advance to the Championship 4 for the sixth time, breaking a tie with Kevin Harvick for most appearances in the final four.
Busch is third choice (+700) at DraftKings Sportsbook, but he’s our top pick for Sunday. We also like him at +200 to finish in the top three.
Bounced from the Playoff, Kevin Harvick Could Use a Redemption Win
After Kevin Harvick spun Chase Elliott at the Charlotte Roval and subsequently wrecked out of the Playoff himself, NASCAR held a conference call with the parties involved and told them in no uncertain terms to knock off the rough stuff on the track.
So we probably won’t see another round of the rivalry at Texas on Sunday. As a consequence, the best way for Harvick to salve the wound of his Playoff elimination is to win a race, something he hasn’t done all year.
Texas is a track where that could happen. Harvick has won three of the last seven races there and has finished eighth or better in eight of the last nine events.
Though Harvick hasn’t had the speed that carried him to nine victories last year, Texas affords the opportunity for him to score his first win of the season. At +1400 via DraftKings (and +1500 at PointsBet), he’s definitely worth a shot.
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How to Watch Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
|Race||Autotrader EchoPark Automotive NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Location||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Time||Sunday, October 17, 2 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||NBC|
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]