Mid-week forecasts call for clear skies in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 27.
That’s a big deal for any host city on race weekend throughout NASCAR’s 36-week, nine-month schedule.
It’s especially a big deal this weekend as drivers return to COTA 10 months after a wreck-filled EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix that Kevin Harvick called the “most unsafe” race of his entire career.
Harvick wrecked on the 20th lap last May as he slowed – to avoid wrecks involving Ryan Blaney and Christopher Bell – and was rear-ended by Bubba Wallace, who had no visibility of Harvick until he hit the No. 4 Ford.
“You’re going into a straightaway just hoping and praying nobody’s gonna be there because you’re wide open and you can’t see anything,” Martin Truex Jr., said after he was smashed by Cole Custer, who said he couldn’t “see a foot in front” of his car as steady rain started on the first lap and fell throughout the shortened event.
Custer will have visibility on Sunday, as will Harvick, and every other driver, including last year’s winner, Chase Elliott, who has won half of the total Cup Series’ road races since 2019. To earn a seventh road-course win in the last four years (and eighth career road-course win), Elliott must, at minimum, finish ahead of road-course ringer, A.J. Allmendinger.
Elliott and Allmendinger are paired in one of BetMGM’s four Featured Matchups for NASCAR betting this weekend:
Chase Elliott (-200) vs. A.J. Allmendinger (+165)
Chase Elliott sits atop BetMGM’s odds for race winner, top-2 finish, top-3 finish, and top Chevrolet car.
None of those positions are surprising for arguably the best road-course driver in NASCAR history, nor is his position as a heavy favorite over Allmendinger, who finished fifth at COTA last year and is one of only four other drivers with a road-course win since 2019.
And the public is willing to pay the price for Elliott. As of Wednesday, he’s receiving 80% of the bets and 99% of the handle in the head-to-head with Allmendinger. Elliott also has 11.1% of the tickets to win the race, the highest share in the field.
Kyle Larson (-200) vs. William Byron (+165)
If NASCAR didn’t stop the 2021 race after 54 (of a scheduled 68) laps, Kyle Larson thinks he might’ve won, overtaking Elliott from his second-place position.
“I think Chase was short on fuel, and we were strong on long runs,” Larson said of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. “But I can’t fault NASCAR for stopping it. The visibility was bad, and there were some pretty scary crashes.”
Larson returns to Austin seeking his second win of the year after disappointing starts at Phoenix and Atlanta. With three road-course wins and five top-5 finishes in 10 races since 2019, he’s the best active road driver outside Elliott.
Larson, however, is not the public’s pick against William Byron, who’s dominating the tickets (80%) and handle (96%) in this matchup. Byron also ranks second in race-winner handle, 10.8% to Larson’s 3.7% (ninth).
Kyle Busch (-150) vs. Denny Hamlin (+125)
Only Elliott and Larson have higher average road-course finishes than Denny Hamlin since 2019 (minimum two starts), yet Hamlin hasn’t won over that time; he has seven top-5 finishes, a driver rating of 100, and 85 laps led, but zero road-course wins.
Despite the sustained success, Hamlin is an underdog to Kyle Busch, who finished 10th last year but has 404 laps led and four wins in 41 career road-course races. And bettors are taking the dog; Hamlin has 63% of the tickets and 59% of the handle against Busch.
Martin Truex Jr. (-125) vs. Austin Cindric (+105)
This matchup pits one of the Cup Series’ most experienced road-course drivers in Martin Truex Jr., against one of the least experienced in Austin Cindric.
Among active drivers, only Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick have more career starts than Truex, whose 39 starts dwarf the three career starts for the 23-year-old Cindric, who finished third in qualifying, fifth in Stage 1, and fourth in Stage 2 last year before dropping well out of contention.
Truex has the second-highest race-winner handle (14.2%) but has smaller ticket (20%) and handle (39%) shares than Cindric in their matchup.
You can view updated EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix odds and more online sports betting opportunities at BetMGM