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Last Updated Mar 27, 2022, 5:17 PM

EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Picks, Predictions, Odds

We get the first of six road races on the NASCAR Cup schedule this week at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) 3.426-mile, 20-turn layout in Austin, Texas. The drivers will be turning both left and right for 68 laps and they’ll also be downshifting on this world-class circuit.

Sunday’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix will be NASCAR’s second visit to COTA, and the first one last season left most of us wanting more, or no rain. The drivers raced on a wet track and most all had vision issues that caused a few wrecks. Sunday’s weather calls for sunny skies, 87 degrees, 13 mph wind, and no precipitation.

ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX PICKS & PREDICTIONS

Chase Elliott won last season's COTA race because that’s what he does and it’s why BetMGM has him as the 3-to-1 favorite and Caesars sportsbooks have him +225. Elliott is the King of the road courses because he has won seven of the last 15 races on them since 2018.

He’s the best road racer driving with the best team (Hendrick Motorsports) giving him the best cars. There were seven road races last season, a big chunk of the overall schedule, so Hendrick put more emphasis on their road racing program. They won five of the seven road courses races in 2021.

Elliott is going to be tough to beat and certainly deserves to be the favorite, but the one factor we have to consider first is how the new car will perform on a road course. Is everyone still equal with the same parts and equipment? Is the Hendrick road course edge gone with the new car?

It’s something to dive deep into and figure out a betting game plan.

Chase Elliott has failed to see a Top 10 result in two straight races after seeing a Top 10 result the race prior. (AP)

Aric Almirola had a great take on the new car at the road courses.

“Well, this car is absolutely designed more for a road-course race type situation,” he said. “It’s a more symmetrical car. Our cars used to be offset, and they were more designed to go just left-hand only, so it was more of a big deal to swap over to go road racing. Now, these cars are more symmetrical. So because of that, it is more specifically designed to go left and right, which suits it very well for road racing. The car is a very capable car. It handles well, it brakes very well. It’s got much bigger brakes than what we used to have on the old car, so it stops way better and the brake zones are way more compressed. It is a little bit more thrilling of a car to drive on the road courses.” 

Almirola is listed at 150-to-1 odds to win showing that the roads haven’t been his best tracks, but this season he’s the only driver to finish on the lead lap of all five races.

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ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX BETTING ANALYSIS

Five races, five different winners, and three of them are Hendrick drivers. An Elliott win would be the sixth different driver to win. But so would a Joey Logano win (24/1), or Ryan Blaney (18/1), or maybe one of the young guns like Ross Chastain (40/1) or Tyler Reddick (40/1).

In this climate where almost any driver in the field can win, it makes me daydream about hitting a bet at 20-to-1 or higher. The new car makes the dream more possible than ever. I still talk about my best NASCAR win being Jerry Nadeau’s win at Atlanta, driving a Hendrick car, and catching 50-to-1 odds. That was the year 2000. I need new stories.

This parity stuff has me thinking anyone can win so spread the wagers out and hope to catch some luck. I’ve been stuck in this top-heavy NASCAR Cup betting scene where I’m happy when I can manage to cash a double-digit odds ticket. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick collectively won 17 of the 36 races in 2020 and I think I bet them every week too. Kyle Larson won 10 races last season, including his first three road course wins.

In the NextGen era, I can talk seriously about a rookie winning a race. Austin Cindric already won the Daytona 500, but his entire career in racing started on road courses. Of his 13 Xfinity Series wins, five of them came on road courses. He’s going to find the front at some point. Caesars sportsbooks have him listed at 15-to-1 odds to win.

ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX BETTING RESOURCES

  • Date: Sunday, March 27, 2022
  • TV-Time: FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Circuit of the Americas
  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Distance: 231 miles
  • Laps: 68

Hey Kevin Harvick, what kind of prep work needs to be done for you to be comfortable on a huge 20-turn layout?

“My big thing is just memorizing what’s next on the racetrack,” Harvick said. “You’re never going to get a good feel for the elevation, but I think the Ford simulator gives the best sense of how our GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang will perform at COTA. You’re able to sit in your own seat and have your own steering wheel and you’re just in a more realistic surrounding. In iRacing, I spent a lot of time in the V8 Supercar just making laps and trying to make sure I knew the direction of the corners before I got to the simulator so I understood what I was getting into.”

Harvick has been very competitive on the roads in most of his 49 Cup starts on them, winning twice and averaging a 13.7 finish. Caesars has him at 40-to-1 odds to win which was just the bait I needed to take a shot with the veteran who last won any race in 2020.

ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX CONTENDERS

Here’s a couple of other drivers I have bet this week before Saturday’s 10 am ET practice:

Ross Chastain (40/1) - This is very generous of Caesars to offer such juicy odds with such a capable driver coupled with it being the new car. Sure, he’s never won in Cup, but he is racing up front for the win almost weekly. I can just feel it. He was fourth at COTA last season and seventh at both Sonoma and Road America.

Tyler Reddick (40/1) - The last time I saw him on a road course, it was October at the Charlotte Roval and he finished second. He led laps in two of his previous three road courses. He’s getting better on them and he’s looked great in the new car so far. 

Chase Briscoe (20/1) - Now with all his confidence after winning at Phoenix, we might see the aggressive road racer that won twice on road courses in the Xfinity Series in 2020. Last season he was sixth at Road America and COTA. 

“I think it’ll definitely be different than what we saw last year,” Briscoe said of COTA. “I mean, last year’s race will look way different than this year’s race with the weather. It was a different style of racing when it was that wet, but from a driver’s standpoint it’s a lot of fun, just the visibility is obviously tough. And then, from a fan’s standpoint, it’s tough to see what’s going on and a little more miserable than if it was a really nice day. I think this car on the road courses is where it’s really going to shine and, truthfully, on the oval stuff, it’s been a lot better than what people expected. 

“I think the road course is probably going to blow it out of the park. It’s a really well-built racecar, especially for road-course racing. It’s going to be interesting to see with 40 of us out there going for it versus just a test session where only a couple of guys are on track, but I think COTA is a really good racetrack to unveil this thing on a road course and I’ve been really excited to get there, so I’m looking forward to it.”

And I think it’s in this new car that we can have another wild ending with a driver paying out at high odds. Yes, it is my theory that the new car diminishes the edge Elliott and Larson had last season. But it doesn’t take away the fact that Elliott is still the best road course driver.

ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

  1. #9 Chase Elliott (3/1)
  2. #1 Ross Chastain (40/1)
  3. #8 Tyler Reddick (40/1)
  4. #14 Chase Briscoe (20/1)
  5. #2 Austin Cindric (15/1)   

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