The NASCAR Cup Series will compete in its first road course race Sunday when the cars take the green flag at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The EchoPark Texas Grand Prix is going to be different from what we saw on the road courses last year. NASCAR is bringing a new aero package and changing the rules for the Stages for Sunday’s race.
The Cup Series will use the new short track /road course aero package Sunday. This will be the same aero package used at Phoenix two weeks ago. The cars will have 30% less downforce and be tougher to drive. This will separate the gap between the good road course drivers and the poor drivers. We saw Tyler Reddick and Ross Chastain in Victory Lane on the road courses last year. These two drivers were not known for their road course skills. The Gen-7 car was easy to drive so that brought more drivers into play for the win. That may not be the case Sunday. I plan to bet on the drivers who have a history of running up front in these races, even before the introduction of the Gen-7 car.
NASCAR also decided to eliminate Stage breaks and add in the choose rule after a caution. The drivers will still be awarded Stage Points, be the racing will not be stopped. This is huge for predicting the winner. Teams often use pit strategy to gain track position. This was easy, because the teams knew when the caution flags would waive for the Stage breaks. That will not be the case this week. The elite road course drivers should have the advantage this week, because the chances of a team stealing a win because of pit strategy are reduced.
Here are my bets if your bankroll for the race is $100….
TYLER REDDICK: Bet $20 at 9-1 odds to win $180
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Bet $20 at 12-1 odds to win $240
RYAN BLANEY: Bet $20 at 15-1 odds to win $300
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Bet $20 at 15-1 odds to win $300
CHRISTOPHER BELL: Bet $15 at 18-1 odds to win $270
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Bet $5 at 30-1 odds to win $150
DRAFTKINGS ODDS FOR COTA
* The odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook. The odds could change between the time of this article and the time you place your bet.
** The first number is the amount of money based on the second number (the amount of the wager). So if you bet $1 on Kyle Larson at 6-1 odds, you will win $60.
Here are my “Best Bets” for the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix…
TYLER REDDICK (9-1): Reddick was the best driver in the Cup Series at the road courses last year. He won the races at Road America and the Indy Road Course. He also finished fifth at COTA last year. Reddick was one of the drivers who participated in the two-day test at COTA in January. He said on SiriusXM Radio “On track Show” Monday, ‘That test really helped us out. I was able to work with my team to show them some stuff RCR had in my car. It was stuff the Toyota’s were not using. We are hoping that setup package will help us unload with some speed this weekend.” The switch from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI Racing shouldn’t slowed him down. I expect Reddick to be up front Sunday.
AJ ALLMENDINGER (12-1): Allmendinger is one of the best road course racers in the Cup Series. Giving him 50-minutes to practice and the Xfinity Series to get his rhythm down is like giving Patrick Mahomes the ball on your five yard line. The biggest competition for Allmendinger is Chase Elliott and he is not in the field this week. I was surprised Allmendinger was not listed as one of the favorites. He is a great bet at 12-1 odds.
RYAN BLANEY (15-1): Blaney keeps knocking on Victory Lane’s door and he refuses to walk through it. Sooner or later he is going to win a race and I will keep betting him until he does so. Blaney ran well at COTA last year. He won the pole, scored the most Stage Points, and had the best average running position and the fourth-fastest green flag speed. The No. 12 car will be fast this week. Blaney just needs a bit of luck and he should have a chance to win the race.
AUSTIN CINDRIC (15-1): Cindric participated in a two-day test at COTA in January. He said his team found a setup that gave him balance in the car (it handled well). Cindric had the third-fastest green flag speed in this race last year. He hasn’t won a Cup Series race on a road course yet, but he did win five races in the Xfinity Series on the road courses. He is just too good at these types of tracks to pass up at 15-1 odds Sunday.
CHRISTOPHER BELL (18-1): I really like Bell this week. I bet him at 18-1 odds on Tuesday and saw they dropped to 15-1 odds on Wednesday. Shop around and see what you can get. Bell is never talked about when the Cup Series competes at the Road Course. People then say at the end of the race, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting Bell to win.” Bell won the last road course race in the Cup Series at the Charlotte Roval last year. That gives him two wins on road courses in the Cup Series on his resume. Bell finished third in this race last year. I will bet he can win the race Sunday.
LONG SHOT SPECIAL
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (30-1): It wasn’t long ago when the discussion at the road course races was, “Who will win this week? Chase Elliott of Martin Truex Jr.” True dominated the road course races when Cole Pearn was on top of the pit box. He hasn’t been very good lately, but the new aero package could play right into Truex’s driving style. 30-1 odds seem pretty good for a driver who has the second-most wins on road courses in the Cup Series.
Good luck Sunday!
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