NASCAR Betting Guide: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Guide: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

For most of last year, the NASCAR Cup Series ran road courses without stage cautions.

It allowed drivers to have their cake and eat it, too; they could grab stage points and remain on the optimal pit strategy. It largely led to predictable finishing orders.

That was part of the problem, though. The races lacked action, and it led to NASCAR reversing course, reintroducing stage breaks for the Charlotte road course, a policy they've carried over into 2024.

This introduces extra volatility into the race. The best cars could prioritize stage points, which loses their track position and damages their projected finishing position. Thus, we have to model a race with stage breaks differently than how we'd handle one lacking them.

Luckily, even after doing this, my model is showing value on a handful of drivers entering the weekend. And most of them are drivers I think could very well be on the optimal strategy.

Let's dig into those initial values based on FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds for Circuit of the Americas.

EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Betting Picks

Ty Gibbs to Win (+1200)

(UPDATE: Thanks to good speed in practice and a front-row qualifying position, Gibbs is now +400 to win. He is also now the favorite by my model, but with 12.5% win odds, down from 20.0%, the value has been sucked out.)

The past six months have proven to us one thing: Ty Gibbs is going to win soon. He has been in contention for too many wins for it not to happen.

It would not shock me at all if that breakthrough happens on Sunday.

Gibbs has already led 194 laps through the first 5 races of the season. That comes after he led 112 his entire rookie season, and even that was very much a success. He has turned those quality runs into two top-fives and four top-10s.

Now, we get Gibbs on a road course, where he dominated in the Xfinity Series. He won his Xfinity debut at the Daytona road course, his first of four road-course wins in that series.

He flashed that potential in Cup last year. He posted a top-five average running position in both Watkins Glen and Charlotte last year, the final two road-course races of the season. He converted both into top-five finishes, representing half of his top-fives as a rookie.

Gibbs was available as long as +1500 to win earlier in the week. He's now down to +1200, but he's still a value there by my numbers. I've got him at 9.1% to win, up from 7.7% implied. There's a chance he races for points, but with his first career win up for grabs, I'm willing to take that risk.

AJ Allmendinger to Finish Top 5 (+250)

(UPDATE: Allmendinger has since lengthened to +380 to finish top five. I've got him at 31.2% post-qualifying, up from 20.8% implied at his new number, so this still a value for me. I also have him as undervalued to finish top 10 at +110 and win at +2500.)

One driver who we know will race for points is Gibbs' Xfinity road-course arch nemesis, AJ Allmendinger. That could put Dinger in play to win at +1400 (and I am showing value there), but I like this market a bit more.

Allmendinger is running the 13 car for Kaulig Racing this weekend. That car is running a part-time schedule and, thus, not eligible for the playoffs. Neither is Allmendinger, himself, as he's competing full-time in Xfinity instead. They have no reason to race for points; it's all about the dub for them.

That's something Allmendinger's capable of getting, as he showed in winning the playoff race at Charlotte last year. He's also a two-time COTA winner in Xfinity and could have won here in Cup in 2022 if not for a late-race bump from Ross Chastain. I just prefer the top-five as it gives him more wiggle room with a loaded entry list this weekend.

For the top-five market, my model has Allmendinger at 34.6%, up from 28.6% implied at +250. I don't mind if you want to shoot a bit higher, but for right now, this is my favorite exposure to him this weekend.

Ryan Blaney to Finish Top 10 (+240)

(UPDATE: Blaney has since lengthened to +330 to finish top 10. Blaney was fine in practice, so I think this is an overreaction to how poor Fords were in qualifying. I have him at 33.7% to finish top 10, up from 23.3% implied. I'm still very in on this despite Ford's slow qualifying pace.)

Of this group, Ryan Blaney is the guy most likely to race for stage points. He's unlikely to have race-winning pace, meaning he could stay out at stage breaks to lock up some points.

Still, this number feels longer than it should be.

Blaney really struggled on road courses last year. His best average running position was 15th, and he notched just one top-10 finish.

But longer-term, we know Blaney can get it done. He had two sixth-place finishes in 2022 (including one here in COTA), and he won at the Charlotte Roval back in 2018. This number seems to assume last year's output is Blaney's new baseline, and I think that's too dismissive.

We don't yet know how Ford's new body will race on road courses. There's always a chance it's an improvement. When you pair that with Blaney's longer-term record, I've got him at 34.7% to finish top 10, up from 29.4% implied. I also do show value on his top-five (+700) and win (+5000) markets, so you have the option to shoot a bit higher here if you'd like.

Chase Briscoe to Finish Top 10 (+280)

(UPDATE: Briscoe has since lengthened to +330 to finish top 10. Similar to Blaney, the model still likes Briscoe, putting his top-10 odds at 29.2%, up from 23.3% implied. I am good with firing on Briscoe at the lengthened number.)

You can copy and paste most of the rationale for Blaney down here for Chase Briscoe.

Whether it was due to the entire Ford camp's struggles or something else, Briscoe lagged on road courses in 2023. His lone top-10 came in Indianapolis, and he failed to post an average running position better than 17th in any of the other races.

But that was a step back for Briscoe. As a rookie in 2021, Briscoe achieved all three of his top-10 finishes on road courses. The following year, he was a threat to win at Indianapolis until a late-race penalty pushed him back to 23rd. He also is a two-time road-course winner in Xfinity.

Briscoe and Stewart-Haas Racing have shown better speed this year, including a 13th-place average running position in Phoenix using this same rules package. My model has Briscoe at 30.2% to finish top 10, up from 26.3% implied.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Alex Bowman to Finish Top 10 (+200)

COTA has been a good track for Alex Bowman. He has finished on the podium here each of the past two seasons, runs that were supported by top-nine average running positions. I think he can do it again this week.

Bowman will start 17th, but he had decent one-lap speed in practice. He was third there, trailing only the drivers who will start on the front row.

It's also not as if those COTA runs were flukes. Bowman had three top-10s in six road-course races last year, and his overall top-10 rate on road courses in the Next-Gen era is 36.4%.

My model's a bit above that this week, putting his top-10 odds at 42.0%. With his implied odds at 33.3%, I'm very comfortable with Bowman here. I also do show value on Bowman to finish top five (+650) if you want to be more ambitious.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.