O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas (Cup Series) – Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks
- Drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series have been sharing the glory at intermediate speedways, a trend that’s unlikely to continue in Fort Worth.
- Jimmie Johnson is the leading Cup winner at Texas Motor Speedway, but the seven-time champ is a long shot this weekend.
- Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin—the leading winners this season with four victories each—will vie for supremacy on Sunday.
|What||O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Where||Texas Motor Speedway|
|When||Sunday, July 19, 3 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||NBCSN|
Four days after competing in the NASCAR All-Star Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway short track, top NASCAR drivers are headed to cow country and Texas Motor Speedway’s intermediate track for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Texas is a mirror image of Kentucky Speedway, with relatively flat, slow corners at one end of the track and high-banked, high-speed corners at the other. The difference is that Turns 1 and 2 are the dicey corners at Texas, as opposed to Turns 3 and 4 at Kentucky—and vice versa on the high-speed ends.
Texas Motor Speedway was reconfigured and repaved before the April 2017 race, with banking in Turns 1 and 2 lowered from 24 to 20 degrees. Sunday’s race will be contested at 334 laps (500.5 miles), with stage breaks at 85 and 170 laps. Denny Hamlin is the defending winner.
NASCAR Cup Series at Texas Odds
The odds for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 are provided by BetMGM.
|Martin Truex Jr.||+900|
Streak of Different Intermediate Winners Is Likely to End at Texas
Uncharacteristically, the NASCAR Cup Series’ six trips to 1.5-mile intermediate speedways have produced six different winners this season:
- Joey Logano (Las Vegas)
- Brad Keselowski (Charlotte 1)
- Chase Elliott (Charlotte 2)
- Kevin Harvick (Atlanta)
- Denny Hamlin (Homestead-Miami)
- Cole Custer (Kentucky)
Of those winners, only Custer has been a real surprise. The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is the first rookie to win a race at NASCAR’s highest level since Chris Buescher triumphed in a rain-shortened race at Pocono in 2016. Despite the victory, Custer is listed at +8000 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. That’s as it should be—lightning won’t strike twice.
In fact, the streak of six straight different winners is endangered. It’s difficult to imagine a Texas winner coming from outside that esteemed group. Of course, Custer pulled off the shocker at Kentucky, so nothing is out of the question.
Is This the Week Jimmie Johnson Becomes a Contender?
The track record is impeccable. Jimmie Johnson is the leading all-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway with seven victories. He won six times before the track was repaved and reconfigured in 2017 and the seventh time in the first race after the transformation. So why is the seven-time champion posted at +2200 this week?
The easy answer is that Johnson, who returned to action after a brief bout of coronavirus kept him out of the July 5 race at Indianapolis, hasn’t won anything at all since the 13th event of 2017 at Dover. The seven-time champion is winless in his last 111 starts, by far the longest dry spell of his career.
Johnson showed speed after NASCAR’s reopening, but he threw away a stage win May 17 at Darlington with a mistake on the final lap. At Charlotte, he finished second but was disqualified because the rear end of his No. 48 Chevrolet was outside tolerances. In his last five races, Johnson has a best finish of 13th at Talladega, rendering a sudden turnaround at Texas a dubious proposition.
Kevin Harvick Versus Denny Hamlin—Top Winners Vie for Supremacy
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin lead the NASCAR Cup Series with four victories apiece. Hamlin is the defending winner of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Harvick is the most recent winner at Texas Motor Speedway, having triumphed in last year’s Playoff race.
So who gets the nod on Sunday? Harvick (+400) has won three of the last five Cup events at TMS, all of which have come after the repaving. All three also have come in the fall. Hamlin has three Texas wins, too, dating to his sweep of both events in 2010.
Harvick’s No. 4 Ford has been faster than Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota on a consistent basis, but Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart, has done an excellent job of hitting the setup off the truck. Without practice, that’s a major advantage, and the ability to unload with a competitive car is one major reason why Hamlin has four wins this season and teammate Kyle Busch has none.
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 – Our Pick
Denny Hamlin (+600).
Because he offers a better payday than Harvick in a toss-up. Harvick didn’t have winning pace on a hot track last Sunday at Kentucky. Sunday’s race at Texas will be even hotter.
More NASCAR Predictions & Odds
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.