Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1400
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During last year’s NASCAR weekend at Circuit of the Americas, it rained so hard and so constantly for three days that they started building an ark in the infield. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but the rain and standing water made visibility almost nil and slowed racing speeds to a crawl.
Chase Elliott won the race, expanding on his already prodigious road course success, but conditions this year will be vastly different—hot and dry in Austin, Texas.
Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, the first road course race of the season, will be contested over 68 laps (231.88 mph) at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn track, with stage breaks scheduled after 15 and 30 laps.
After seeing the post-qualifying adjusted odds for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, we have to wonder whether the professional handicappers actually watched the time trials.
Oddsmakers installed road course ace Chase Elliott and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson as the two near-prohibitive favorites at +300 and +350, respectively, via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Here’s the problem: Neither Elliott nor Larson made the final 10 in qualifying. Elliott will start 12th on Sunday, one position better than Larson.
Despite spinning into the “soft” walls in practice, Ryan Blaney won the pole during time trials on Saturday and is driving a car with excellent speed. Though Blaney has endured a star-crossed season this far, and though he doesn’t consider himself an elite road racer, he’s a much more attractive pick at +1200—and at +250 to finish in the top three (both via DraftKings).
To some extent, you can dismiss the past road course successes of Elliott and Larson, because NASCAR’s new race car has changed the game. The Next-Gen car has attributes that weren’t part of last year’s car—rack-and-pinion steering, a five-speed sequential transmission, independent rear suspension, a much larger brake package, and an asymmetrical body.
Consequently, it’s a mistake to assume Elliott and Larson will move to the front. Given the choice, we’re going with Blaney.
Kyle Busch at +1400 on a road course seems like a gift, but that’s where DraftKings has him after qualifying for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race.
It’s true that Busch didn’t have a great performance in time trials and will start 15th on Sunday. It’s also true that Busch hasn’t had a great start to the season—he’s winless through five races and crashed out of the Atlanta Cup race in his most recent start.
But Busch was fastest in Cup practice on Saturday, and we expect him to charge through the field on Sunday. He was leading Saturday’s NASCAR Truck Series race at COTA before he was shoved aside in a three-wide gaggle in overtime. But the extra laps on the track should be an advantage.
At +1400, Busch is worth a bet. Same goes for a top-three finish at +300. Our saving grace last week was action on Kurt Busch to finish top three (+550) and top five (+375). This week, his brother will bring home the bacon.
You’d think that, if you were second fastest in NASCAR Cup practice and backed it up with a second-place effort in qualifying, you’d get the attention of the oddsmakers.
You’d be wrong. Daniel Suarez did exactly that and was available at +2500 when odds were posted after time trials. Subsequently, action on the Mexican driver moved the line to +1600, but he’s still a good bet at that price.
Suarez is driving for TrackHouse Racing, a joint venture between Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull. In five races this season, Suarez has two top-five results—fourths at Fontana and Atlanta—double the number he posted in 36 events last year.
The best bet on the board, however, may be road course ace AJ Allmendinger at +2500 to win, +600 to finish top-three and +275 to finish top-five. Both of Allmendinger’s Cup wins have come on road courses.
The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet blew his lap in the first round of qualifying and will start 20th, but you can count on Allmendinger to make swift progress toward the front of the field. Our money is on the Dinger across the board.
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|EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Information|
|Race||Echo Park Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Location||Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas|
|Time||Sunday, March 27, 3:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FOX|
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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]More info on Reid Spencer
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