NASCAR O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Picks, Preview, Odds

NASCAR Cup Series
O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
Betting Resources

  • Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
  • Date: Sunday, July 19, 2020
  • TV-Time: NBC, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
  • Location: Sparta, Kentucky

Everything is big in Texas, including a live long shot I'm on that is currently on an amazing run in 2020. More on the driver in a moment, but first let’s set up the 18th race of the season with some context or least what area we should attack with the first wave of wagers in this week’s betting strategy.

Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be the seventh race of the season on 1.5-mile tracks and the first six have been by six different drivers culminating with Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer’s win at Kentucky Speedway last week that paid out 300/1 odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Odds
Sunday, July 19, 2020

  • Kevin Harvick +300
  • Kyle Busch +600
  • Denny Hamlin +600
  • Martin Truex Jr. +800
  • Ryan Blaney +1000
  • Joey Logano +1000
  • Chase Elliott +1000
  • Brad Keselowski +1000
  • Kurt Busch +2500
  • Aric Almirola +2500
  • More NASCAR Futures
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

NASCAR Cup Series
Handicapping Texas 500

Harvick vs. the Field

Last fall at Texas during the playoffs we saw the SHR drivers finished 1-2-3 showing they had a clear edge over the other teams on the high-banked layout and they’ll be using a race package this week that is almost the same as 2019.

Kevin Harvick won that race, his third in five races there, after not winning any in his first 29 starts. His last six starts all came on the resurfaced asphalt and it’s obvious that Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers like their set-up for it very much.

Harvick and Childers have been together in the No. 4 SHR ride since 2014 and in the last 11 races there together they’ve had 11 straight top-10 finishes which include third or better in seven of those. Since switching from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017 he’s won his Texas races each of the three seasons.

He comes in as the best using this week’s race package that produces 550 horsepower which has netted him eight of his 10 series-leading top-fives in the 12 races it’s been used so far, which also includes all four of his wins which is tied with Denny Hamlin for the most in the series.


Between Harvick’s recent dominance at Texas and his incredible 2020, the SuperBook has posted him as a massive 3/1 betting favorite to win. What am I supposed to do with that? If you bet him to win again to make a profit you have to limit your drivers bet and increase the normal betting amount.

Come on, 3-to-1 to win a race against 39 other drivers when I’ve seen him times this season fall flat when he doesn’t have clean air upfront. That was the case on the last 1.5-mile track last week at Kentucky, but he still found his way to finish fourth with a chance of winning at the end. He was terrible and got better late. But in the second Charlotte race, he led 63 laps and dominated but got into dirty air late and finished 10th.

Hey look, I’m reaching and grasping for anything to talk me out of a bet on Harvick this week, and for some reason stats such as him only winning at Texas in the playoffs help justify betting against him.

But he has four wins in 12 races with this week’s race package which makes 3-to-1 sounds fair -- once every three races with it he wins. Then winning three of the last five there makes +150 seems fair.

Everybody but the No. 4

So what I’ve done is make cases for other drivers with a legitimate shot to win while making Harvick my insurance bet. Among all my staggered wagers, I’ll do the worst with Harvick and only recoup half my bankroll if he wins.

I don’t want to leave him out because of what he does every week, but I’ve got another SHR driver I like this week that I am bankrolling the most in my Week 18 portfolio that will go to my vacation fund whenever I feel comfortable from leaving my bunker and dealing with public air, and the public itself. And believe it or not, I’ve been quite comfortable bunkered up.

Custer won last week and he’s 100/1 this week even though he’s had top-fives, and a win, between his last two races using this week’s race package.

Clint Bowyer is 50/1 and has shown off having a fast car when getting out front, but I’m staking my week and future vacation on Aric Almirola who the SuperBook has offered at 25/1 odds.

I’ve talked myself into it and made all the cases for him winning despite never winning on this type of track. His only Cup wins have come on the Superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega.

My confidence in cashing a 25-to-1 long shot ticket grows when I see Almirola was runner-up last fall in the SHR domination after leading 62 laps. But the excitement is mostly about what he’s doing lately ending with an eighth-place finish at Kentucky last week after leading a race-high 128 laps. In clean air, he was dominant. After a pit shuffle, he was in the dirty air and didn’t do as well.

Before Kentucky, his SHR teams had put cars out almost as good as Harvick's in Almirola’s hands and he reeled off five straight top-five finishes, his only top-fives of the season. He’s on the upswing and charging hard for that first win of 2020. I’ve made lots of excuses to justify him winning, but I’m okay with that. I just couldn’t let a 25-to-1 shot with a chance of winning not be played, and I took it further to be play No. 1.

While Harvick has won three of the last five at Texas, it’s been a Toyota that has won four of the last eight there and I’m going to take a couple of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to offset what may be a reality of Almirola not winning. One of the Toyota drivers I’m leaving out is Kyle Busch despite him having 16 wins combined at Texas between the three series.

Martin Truex Jr. has never won at Texas but I’ll be happy to put him in my betting equation at 8-to-1 odds just because of what he’s done in two of his last three races on 1.5-mile tracks after struggling with the race package most of the season. He led 57 laps at Kentucky and probably should have won, but came away with a runner-up. He also finished third at Atlanta on June 7. He is the King of the 1.5s or at least he was before 2020. I look for him and new crew chief James Small to keep building off what they’ve discovered in the positive runs at Atlanta and Kentucky.

The next JGR driver I’m on is Denny Hamlin at 8/1 odds just because he’s been good at all tracks with this race package. The 750 horsepower package, not so much. But between saving his tires better than most and a car set-up for a championship run, Hamlin has three wins with this package and four overall. He has three Texas wins in the Cup Series, including the spring race last season.

The last key driver in my portfolio this week is Ryan Blaney at 12/1. He’s been the most steady driver at Team Penske and since arriving with the team he’s got both of his career top-fives at Texas. Even with lesser equipment in 2017 driving the No. 21, he won the first two stages and settled for 12th after leading a race-high 148 laps. He won a 2018 Xfinity Series race at Texas, but the reason to bet him to win this week is five straight finishes of sixth or better on the 1.5-mile tracks.

O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
Top-5 Finish Prediction

1) #10 Aric Almirola 25/1
2) #19 Martin Truex Jr. 8/1
3) #4 Kevin Harvick 4/1
4) #11 Denny Hamlin 8/1
5) #12 Ryan Blaney 12/1

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