2022 NASCAR champion Joey Logano snagged the win in Atlanta on a last-lap pass of Brad Keselowski. Logano’s win was his first of the season, giving Ford the victory after Chevrolet won the opening four races of the season.
This week it’s off to Texas, where everything is bigger. That includes the longest course on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The stars of NASCAR will take to the track built to FIA grade for Formula One cars. Circuit of the Americas (COTA) will play host to NASCAR for the third season in a row.
This season on road courses, NASCAR has elected not to throw cautions at the end of stages. Listen to the NASCAR GAMBLING PODCAST for a more in-depth analysis of how this will affect betting on this race. Last year it was the watermelon man Ross Chastain grabbing his first career victory in thrilling fashion. As we do every week, I’ll give you my five favorite bets using a budget of $5,000. Then we’ll talk about a few drivers to watch this week for NASCAR DFS.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Best Bets and DFS Picks
$1,000 – The winner of Stage Two Wins the Race (+325)
With no stage breaks and the potential for long green flag racing. This bet seems to be a little mid-priced. Yes, there could be a late caution flag that brings on the chaos like we saw last year. I believe the racing will get spread out, and the fastest car will lead a lot of laps and run away with the race.
Suppose this is the case, with no caution, after they score stage two and award the points. One green flag pit stop, and then it’ll be off to the races for the driver in first. This is a great way to get down on the driver dominating mid-race without having to guess who they are or make a live bet on them.
$1,000 – Kyle Larson Top Three Finish (+200)
Kyle Larson is hands down one of the best road course racers in the garage. With teammate Chase Elliott still sidelined with his injury, that leaves one less top-notch competitor to take away a spot from Larson. The early advantage in 2023 has been to the Chevrolet teams, and Hendrick Motorsports consistently has fast race cars.
At COTA in 2022, Larson got shuffled back in stage flipping and was caught up in a late race wreck in turn one. At Sonoma, he dominated early before pit strategy cost him. He won at Watkins Glen and finished third at Road America. Without stage breaks to get in his way, good luck stopping Larson. The great thing about this bet is you don’t even need him to win, score a top-three finish, and you can double your money.
$1,000 – AJ Allmendinger Over William Byron (+100)
AJ Allmendinger is the all-time wins leader on road courses in Xfinity Series history with 10. In the Cup Series, he has an additional two wins. Last year at COTA, Allmendinger won the Xfinity Series race Saturday and led the Cup race late until contact with eventual winner Ross Chastain cost him. At Sonoma, he had a top-ten run going before losing power steering. At the four other road course races he ran as a part-time driver, Allmendinger would finish top ten in all of them, including second at Watkins Glen.
William Byron has started the season on a tear, winning back-to-back races in Las Vegas and Phoenix. His road course finishes, however, just aren’t as good. He opened the season with a 12th-place run at COTA. Sonoma would be his only top 10 finishing ninth. Then it was all downhill with finishes of 16th, 31st, 22nd, and 16th at the remaining races. Allmendinger is the better road course driver. He has the finishes and stats to back that up.
$1,000 – Winning Car Number 0-9 (+115)
Getting this loaded number range at plus money feels like a steal. This is another excellent way to hit a positive bet without predicting the exact winner. If you pick the correct winner in this number, you can double dip or use this as a small hedge as well.
This number range includes last year’s winner and driver tied for the second-best odds Ross Chastain (+800). Second-year driver Austin Cindric (+1500) finished top 10 in five of the six road course events last year and has five Xfinity wins on road courses. Long-shot Austin Dillion (+6500). Perennial all-star Kevin Harvick (+3000).
The odds on favorite Kyle Larson (+650). 2012 champion Brad Keselowski (+3000). Fan favorite Corey Lajoie (+75000). Co-second favorite Kyle Busch (+800) drives the car that won two road course races last season. Two-time IMSA Sports car champion Jordan Taylor (+3000) is subbing for perennial road course favorite Chase Elliott.
$1,000 – Austin Cindric Top 10 Finish (-104)
As mentioned above, in his rookie campaign last season, Austin Cindric impressed on road courses. Something that shouldn’t have surprised anyone, Cindric won five times on road courses in the Xfinity Series from 2019-2021. Before Cindric moved to stock cars and climbed the NASCAR ladder, he competed in a variety of disciplines, including sports cars and the road to Indy.
Cindric scored a top 10 in every road course race last season except Watkins Glen, where he settled for a 13th-place finish. Cindric scored a solid eighth-place run at COTA and finished second at the Indianapolis Road Course.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix DFS Drivers to Watch
I want to stress the importance of paying attention to practice and qualifying this week. There is a lot to learn from who will be fast, and the most crucial question of the weekend might just be who starts on the pole. With no stage, break caution if someone can run away with it early. Look for them to gobble up the few but very important laps led points.
Kyle Larson ($10,400)
As mentioned in the betting section above, I’m huge on Kyle Larson this weekend. On the NASCAR GAMBLING PODCAST, I picked him to win, and I think he does so in dominating fashion. If Larson can start anywhere in the top five, look for him to get to the lead quickly. Even if he starts a little farther back in the field, he’ll help you out with those place differential points as he works his way forward.
Larson will likely be the chalkiest play on the slate this weekend but for a good reason. In my opinion, he is almost a lock for cash games but will be heavily rostered in GPP contests. So make sure you fade him a few places, just in case. That may be all the difference you need if something goes wrong.
Alex Bowman ($8,600)
The Showman is a great value price here at $8,600. Last year Alex Bowman was one of the three mixing it up for the win at COTA and ended up coming in second to Chastain. Bowman can be sneaky on the road courses and has started the season with a lot of speed. On Saturday, he’ll also compete in the Craftsman Truck Series race to get those extra practice laps in. He’s also worth a sprinkle at 20-1 to win this race.