EchoPark Texas Grand Prix (Cup Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks

EchoPark Texas Grand Prix

  • Riding an 11-race top-10 streak, William Byron is fastest in a Texas rainstorm.
  • Based on past performance, not on speed, Chase Elliott is favored at COTA.
  • Unpredictable weather could play havoc with the running order and betting odds.

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The NASCAR Cup Series visits Circuit of the Americas for Sunday’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix, the first of five road courses in the next 11 points races.

This is the inaugural race for NASCAR’s premier division at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn course. The track also hosts the United States Grand Prix for Formula One, scheduled for Oct. 24.

Sunday’s event will be contested over 68 laps (231 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 15 and 32 laps.

How to Watch EchoPark Texas Grand Prix

EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Information
Race EchoPark Texas Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series Race
Location Circuit of the Americas
Time Sunday, May 23, 2:30 p.m. ET
How to Watch FS1

William Byron’s Theme Song in Austin, Texas This Weekend? “Let It Rain”

Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron was the surprise of a rainy NASCAR Cup Series practice on Saturday, topping the speed chart with a lap at 77.847 mph.

Byron comes to the Circuit of the Americas riding the longest current consecutive streak of top-10 finishes with 11. That’s two races short of the longest among active Cup drivers (Kevin Harvick 2019-2020 and Kyle Busch 2018-2019).

Though Byron has no experience racing a stock car in the rain, he’s asking for more precipitation on Sunday, given his stellar performance in a practice downpour.

“Yeah, I hope it rains tomorrow,” Byron said after the Saturday session.

It was really weird at first, just getting used to just where the best line was and getting used to the way you get around there. I’ve spent some time at the go-kart track in the rain and, honestly, you just try to adapt and learn.

Byron has always been a quick study, and at +1500 (according to PointsBet Sportsbook), he’s an absolute steal if the rain returns on Sunday.

Chase Elliott’s Favorite Status Is Based on History, Not Current Performance

There’s no disputing that Chase Elliott has been the dominant force on road courses in the NASCAR Cup Series over the past three seasons.

Since winning his first race in NASCAR’s top division on the Watkins Glen International road course in 2018, Elliott has triumphed four more times on circuits that feature right turns as well as lefts.

The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is the reigning series champion. Based on his road course record, it makes sense that Elliott is the heavy favorite to win Sunday’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix. Right?

Well, not so fast. Elliott is the only Hendrick driver who hasn’t won a race this year, and teammate Alex Bowman has been to Victory Lane twice.

In Saturday’s rain-soaked practice, Elliott was fifth on the speed chart, a full second off teammate William Byron’s speed. Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch all ran faster than NASCAR’s most popular driver.

So if it rains on Sunday (and the forecast is “iffy” at best), Elliott doesn’t look so good as a +225 favorite, does he? Then again, if it’s dry…

Rain Is Definitely the “X” Factor on Sunday, Both for Competitors and Bettors

On Saturday at Circuit of the Americans, drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series practiced in a torrential downpour between qualifying sessions for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series.

During the Truck Series race later that day, the skies cleared, and slick tires—not grooved rain tires—were the order of the day by the time the Xfinity Series race went green at 4:30 p.m. ET.

If the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix is a dry race, we like drivers with technical road-racing ability—namely Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger (+2500), though whether Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing equipment can match that of the full-time Cup teams is an open question.

If the race is run in the rain, Allmendinger may be an even better choice, given his experience in the wet in other racing series, notably IMSA and IndyCar.

William Byron is another good choice in rainy conditions, along with Kyle Busch (+1000), who won the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race in the rain; and Kyle Larson (+1100), who is used to sliding a car sideways on dirt.

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Reid Spencer

Expert on NASCAR

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]