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Last Updated Jul 03, 2022, 02:19 PM

NASCAR Kwik Trip 250 Picks, Predictions, Odds

Last season it was Hendrick Motorsports winning five of the seven road courses races on the NASCAR Cup schedule with Kyle Larson winning his first three road races and Chase Elliott winning his only two races of the season and it's why both are the favorites to win this week at Caesars sportsbooks.  Elliott is 9-to-2 to win Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 at Road America and Larson is 5-to-1.

But neither of those road racers have won in the first two road races of 2022. It’s been Trackhouse Racing with Ross Chastain grabbing his first Cup win at COTA and also Daniel Suarez dominating at Sonoma for his first Cup win. That’s two first-time winners from the same team on tracks dominated by one organization the previous four years. 

What changed?

KWIK TRIP 250 PICKS & PREDICTIONS

The answer all rests with the new NextGen car which debuted this season. All those winning set-up notes that Chase Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson put together that aided him in winning seven of 14 road races from 2018-2021 are no good anymore with the new car. Imagine winning half the road races entered as Elliott did for four seasons. His next road course win will tie Tony Stewart for second-most in NASCAR history and his ninth win will tie all-time NASCAR leader Jeff Gordon with nine.

Kyle Larson winning his first three road courses last season was because of having fast cars but also a set-up secret revealed to his team by Elliott’s team. Larson was decent on road courses in the past and could run a fast single lap, but his road skills were no where close to Elliott’s until joining Hendrick. 

The NextGen car has flipped the table on just one elite team dominating. Trackhouse Racing found an edge on the road courses before the season and applied that edge to both cars. I don’t know what it is and they’re not sharing their secret, but two wins in two tries are almost as big of an edge as Hendrick had on the roads last season.

The NextGen has done its job of not making any team dominant. Parity was desired and that’s what we have aided by a tire that has a great chance of blowing up after 25 laps. In 17 races this season we’ve had 12 different winners with five drivers having two wins each. Elliott’s two wins this season have come on concrete tracks and Larson’s last win came in the second race of the season at Fontana. Elliott has gone winless in the last five road races.

It’s been a wild ride of parity which has made betting the races and winning tougher than ever but also offered several drivers the true possibility of winning weekly in the 25-to-1 or higher range. I like it when I win, but hate it when I lose directing my anger mostly at NASCAR’s new regime and agenda moving forward.

Road America is located in Elkhart, Wisconsin. (Getty)

KWIK TRIP 250 BETTING RESOURCES

  • Date: Sunday, July 3, 2022
  • Venue: Road America
  • Location: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
  • Distance: 250 miles
  • Laps: 62
  • Network-Time: USA - 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Defending Champion: Chase Elliott

Let’s move on with Sunday’s race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin which is a massive 14-turn, 4.048-mile layout with unique corners while turning both left and right. It’s a fast track with lots of long straightaways and a bunch of braking also required around the turns. It’s a new track for the series. Chase Elliott won last season, his last road course win, following the 1956 race won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock. 

Yes, that’s quite a gap between races, but now we're starting a new Fourth of July tradition and it sure looks like the crowd is having a blast in multiple areas of this track. We can still call this race the Firecracker, right?

After two road races, there is a lot of data for the teams to review to prep themselves for this week, things they did wrong, errors they made, wrong assumptions based on the old cars, and just being slower than others. The team I’ll pay attention to the most this week is Joe Gibbs Racing because they didn’t learn anything at COTA in March with all their drivers struggling at Sonoma last month. Saturday’s practice and qualifying should give a glimpse of their road racing progress.

But my first thought about Sunday’s race was why would I fool around with guesswork on road racing progress when I already know Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez has things figured out already. No guesswork is needed. 

KWIK TRIP 250 BETTING ANALYSIS

Chastain leads NASCAR with eight top-fives and also finished seventh at Sonoma. His teammate Suarez led a race-high 47 laps at Sonoma. Again, two-for-two, other teams have to get better, and we know some with traditionally the best equipment aren’t as good just yet. 

Just a recap on the two road races: At COTA, Chastain won followed by Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Elliott, and Tyler Reddick. A.J. Allmendinger was a factor as well and will likely be hanging around towards the end as well because of his extensive knowledge of the track which includes as 2013 Xfinity Series win at Road America.

At Sonoma, it was Suarez followed by Chris Buescher, Michael McDowell, Kevin Harvick, and road ace Austin Cindric who won five of his 13 Xfinity races on road races, which includes a 2020 Road America win. Buescher, an accomplished road racer also has a win at Road America in his past. If Sonoma were a big horse race, could you imagine the superfecta payout with that top-4? It’s a reminder that we have to adjust all our past notions about NASCAR that anyone can win without needing rain or a wild pit scheme. The bottom line is Suarez, Buescher, and McDowell kicked Elliott and Larson’s ass at Sonoma.

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KWIK TRIP 250 CONTENDERS

Here’s a few driver quotes I found interesting regarding Road America with odds offered by Caesars sportsbooks:

Chase Elliott (9/2) - 4th at COTA, 8th at Sonoma

"I’m excited to get back to Road America, he said. “I thought last year’s event was really good. For me, I was always partial to having the Fourth (of July) race at Daytona, but the crowd was really good and the energy was super high, and I think we need to have an energetic race on the Fourth. That’s a big weekend for our country. It’s a race inside our sport that I think is deserving of a lot of energy too, because we are a sport that’s going on this time of year and that needs to be a big event. I felt like the people up there welcomed us with open arms and brought a lot of energy. Anytime you have energy at the track, it makes it fun for everybody involved - whether you’re working inside the sport, you’re a driver, you’re another a fan there, it just makes for a better event, better environment.”

Kyle Larson (5/1) - 29th at COTA, 15th at Sonoma:

"There are some big differences between the Cup and Xfinity cars, like braking points and sequential shifting in the Cup car versus an H-pattern in the Xfinity car,” he said of running both Cup and Xfinity races this weekend. “But getting more track time is worth it while getting an additional race with Kevin (Meendering) calling the shots will help our communication."

Denny Hamlin (15/1) - 18th at COTA, 31st at Sonoma:

“Road America is a great track,” he said. “The fan turnout last year was amazing. It’s a huge track and there were people all over the place, so it really had a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to going back this weekend. We have a bit of work to do on our road course program with this new car. Sonoma was nowhere near what we are capable of across the board, so I think – as a team and manufacturer – we are excited to get back to a road course and see what gains we’ve made because these tracks are such an important part of our schedule these days.”

Kyle Busch (10/1) - 28th at COTA, 30th at Sonoma:

“With those big straightaway, the corners are important, like missing turn three, I think it’s called, and then going down along back there,” said Busch who won the Xfinity race at Road America last season. “That’s important. That’s a big deal. Obviously, the last corner, I think it’s 13 or 14, coming up along from straightaway. So those can be detrimental to lap time, for sure, because you’re just losing time by the distance in which it takes to get up to speed, so you really want to be strong on those turns.”

Martin Truex (12/1) - 7th at COTA, 26th at Sonoma:

“It’s a great track,” said Truex, who has four road race wins over his Cup career. ”It’s obviously a very long track, so you get a lot of different types of corners and some elevation changes. We’re definitely looking at this weekend as being very important. We weren’t where we need to be at Sonoma and our guys have been working really hard since then to figure out why and hopefully come to Road America this weekend with a better shot at running up front like we know we’re capable of.”

Christopher Bell (18/1) - 3rd at COTA, 27th at Sonoma:

“Road America is always one of my favorite stops on the year,” he said. “I got my first road course win there (2019), so when the Cup Series put it on the schedule I was very happy. I can’t wait to get back to Wisconsin.” 

Kevin Harvick (35/1) - 11th at COTA, 4th at Sonoma:

“I haven’t spent a lot of time at Road America, but the thing I did take away from last year is there are a lot of heavy braking zones,” he said. “So, I think that’s still going to be the ticket to passing – making the time into the heavy braking zones and being able to out-brake somebody.”

Chris Buescher (35/1) - 21st at COTA, 2nd at Sonoma: 

“I like road racing in general, it breaks up our schedule nicely,” he said. “I got an ARCA win at Road America several years back and it’s been a really neat race track. It has good rhythm and is somewhat of a cross of Sonoma and some of these others that have higher-speed areas, but slower tempo areas, as well. It’s a really fun track and I can’t wait to get there and see if we can replicate some of our recent road racing experience in the Fastenal Ford.”

Chris Buescher (35/1) - 21st at COTA, 2nd at Sonoma:

“There are so many opportunities to make a mistake,” Briscoe warned. “It’s a 14-turn course, so it’s hard to mentally stay in the game there just because there are so many opportunities to make a mistake and each turn is so different. You have some really fast ones, some heavy braking zones, some tight corners, and the tires wear out so much there that you really are changing what you’re doing each lap and each corner. It’s a very challenging track, but that’s why I like going there. It does wear you out. It gets like a slick, worn-out dirt track, as weird as that sounds, but that’s why I like it. I just like the feat of trying to wrestle a 4-mile road course. It’s huge. It takes over two minutes to run the racetrack, so I just enjoy the challenge of racing there and trying to get these cars to do what you want each lap, with every turn. It’s a lot of fun and, when it pays off, it’s incredibly rewarding.”

Michael McDowell (50/1) - 13th at COTA, 3rd at Sonoma:

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what to expect with this new car,” he said. “At COTA, when we went into practice and qualifying, I was disappointed. We had missed it. But we can back in the race and learned a ton and finished OK. It gave us that base that really propelled us at Sonoma where we had an awesome weekend. We know the next two months are important and an opportunity to capitalize on these road courses. We do have an expectation to compete for wins, especially at a place like Road America.”

FYI, I don’t get Trackhouse Racing’s weekly press releases yet, and superfecta betting NASCAR used to happen right before the turn of the century with Mega$ports parimutel set-up that was available at all Nevada sportsbooks. The volume with NASCAR in all three series was awesome – to win, place, show, exactas, and trifectas, but the other sports lagged because bettors didn’t like not knowing what their payout would be. Screen odds changed with each bet made. Example: You bet the Broncos at -7 showing -120 Sunday morning, but so did a bunch of others by kickoff and the odds adjusted itself to -7 -150. Lots of pissed-off customers who didn’t understand the idea.

Enjoy the race and Happy Fourth of July!

KWIK TRIP 250 TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

  1. #1 Ross Chastain (7/1)
  2. #9 Chase Elliott (9/2)
  3. #20 Christopher Bell (18/1)
  4. #99 Daniel Suarez (15/1)
  5. #12 Ryan Blaney (15/1)

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