It’s time for NASCAR to head back to Texas Motor Speedway for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500! NASCAR Odds came out late Monday as usual and I’m ready to get a jump start on my picks! Before we go further, let’s look back to Bristol.
On Sunday Christopher Buescher got his first win in years with a gutsy call to take two tiers on a late pit stop. The call gave Buescher the lead, which he never surrendered, getting a great restart and then simply driving away from the field over the last 50 laps. So with Buescher in victory lane, we have now had three different non-playoff drivers win the first three playoff races. Just like we all expected a month ago right? No? Well, even if you didn’t see this coming, the craziest NASCAR season in history continues on Sunday with the only points race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway.
Other than the Coke 600, this is the longest race of the year on a 1.5 mile track. Unfortunately, over the past several years Texas Motor Speedway has not produced great racing. Since the track was repaved in 2017 passing for the lead is nearly impossible. Last year just two drivers, William Byron, and Kyle Larson lead laps by merit. While the new car has improved racing at other intermediate tracks, during the All-Star Race we saw that passing at Texas is still nearly impossible.
The good news is that this is the fifth points race on a 1.5 intermediate track, so we have lots of relevant data to analyze. For regular readers or anyone in the Garage Guys Discord (its free!) you won’t be surprised to know my expected performance metric is high on Kyle Busch. That said, this week he isn’t the top driver. Top driver honors go to Ross Chastain.
Ross is showing up strong due to his Charlotte performance and the high correlation between Charlotte and Texas. Before his late incident at Charlotte Chastain led 153 laps over six stints out front. Ross also logged more fastest laps (66) than any other driver. The other drivers who appear at the top of my metric are generally unlikely to surprise. Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin, William Byron, and Chase Elliott complete my top 10.
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Early NASCAR Betting Picks: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
#24 Alex Bowman Top 3 +700 | (DraftKings Sportsbook) and Top 10 -105 | (FanDuel Sportsbook)
My arguments for Top 3 and Top 10 bets below also make a strong argument for Alex Bowman outright at +2500 (available at DraftKings). I’m opting to step down to his Top 3 and Top 10 odds though. I’m simply not betting him outright given the number of other outright bets I already have. I have one unit on his Top 10, (1.05 units if you are -105) and half a unit on his Top 3 odds.
Bowman has been the model of top 10 consistency at intermediate tracks this year. He has finished first, ninth, tenth, and fourth at the 1.5 mile tracks. He also finished ninth at Michigan and eleventh at Pocono. Having finished in the top 10 at six of the seven races (seven of eight if we count the All-Star Race) -105 for a Top 10 just doesn’t make sense. I would bet his Top 10 odds down to -110.
Bowman hasn’t just been consistent though, he has shown significant upside. His upside has me wanting to jump on his Top 3 odds as well. Two weeks ago at Kansas Bowman led 107 laps and put down 34 fastest laps. He also of course “backed into” a win at Vegas earlier this year after leading 16 laps. He didn’t lead any laps at Kansas 1 or Charlotte, but his 141 laps led between Vegas and Kansas 2 are still the second most laps any driver has led at a 1.5 intermediate track this year. This is enough to have me grab his Top 3 odds at +700. +700 is my floor for this bet though.
#99 Daniel Suárez +4000 | (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Trackhouse hasn’t made it to victory lane at an intermediate track yet this year, but the team has brought fast cars to every race. Ross Chastain dominated the middle of the Coke 600 at Charlotte, leading 153 laps and led 87 laps at Las Vegas. Suárez was also strong at Charlotte, putting up 51 fastest laps and leading 36 laps. Two weeks ago at Kansas Suárez led eight laps while running 20 fastest laps. Across the four points races at 1.5 mile tracks, Suárez has 5.9% of all fastest laps, fourth among all drivers. If we cut it down to just laps Suárez has run, that number jumps to 7.4%.
At Pocono and Michigan, tracks with secondary correlation to Texas Suárez was also strong. He finished third (fifth before the Hamlin and Busch DQ’s) at Pocono with ten fastest laps. At Michigan, he led 33 laps before late race issues took him out of the picture.
Finally, looking to Texas performance itself, it’s worth noting Suárez raced his way into the main All-Star event. In the main event, he started 23rd, but finished fifth, getting as high as second at one point. Trackhouse is bringing top-tier equipment to intermediate tracks and Suárez is doing what he needs to do in order to get his car to the front. +4000 is also out of line with the industry, whereas other books have Suárez between +2500 and +3000. I have half a unit on Suárez to win and would bet this down to +3500.
#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Top 10 +700 | (DraftKings Sportsbook)
I was on Stenhouse for a Top 10 two weeks ago at Kansas. While the bet didn’t cash due to his blown tire on lap 111, Ricky showed that the bet was a good one. At the time his tire went Ricky was in second place and had put down 15 fastest laps. Ricky led laps at Vegas and Kansas 1.
Stenhouse has finished eighth at Kansas 1 and seventh at Charlotte (where he also had a few fastest laps). Ricky has shown he can get it done at the intermediates in this new car. +700 for a Top 10 is silly. In fact, I even put a .1u sprinkle on him outright at +35000 at PointsBet. That has fallen to +25000, but I think it’s still worth a small bet at that price. You can bet his Top 10 odds down to +600.
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