The EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas is set for Sunday May 23rd at 2:30 PM. Tune in on Fox Sports 1, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch Sunday’s action.
Another new track is on the menu this week, down in Austin, Texas. Circuit of the Americas is a 3.4 mile, 20 turn counter clockwise road course. Inspiration was taken from other circuits around the world. Formula 1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke created the finished design which draws inspiration from Silverstone’s Maggots and Becketts sequence early in the lap, and Istanbul’s turn eight later on. Another one of the track’s distinctive features is the 133 feet steep climb towards turn one, and the triple-apex right-hander which forms turns 16, 17 and 18.
This is a new track so practice is reinstated. The Cup Series practice will be Saturday at 10AM for 50 minutes. Drivers will have to learn a brand new track in a short amount of time. Yes, drivers can run a simulator, but you won’t get a true feel of going uphill towards turn 1, or hitting the braking zones to complete the turns successfully. Also, the simulation does not include turtles, six-inch-high steel rumble strips, on the edge of the turns that serve as a speedbump if drivers run over them. So how will teams manage practice? Average lap time is over 2 minutes. Run 4-5 laps, come into the shop, make adjustments and go back out onto the track for more practice. 50 minutes may seem like a lot of time, but in the case of a road course, it’s not.
Qualifying is also back this week. Qualifying is Sunday morning at 11AM. If you plan on playing DFS NASCAR or placing any bets, it’s important to know where your drivers will be starting from. It will make for a busy Sunday. ALSO, forecast for this weekend’s race is not looking the best. Good chance of rain Saturday and Sunday (as of the Friday morning writing of this article). Unlike ovals, Cup series can still run in light rain. NASCAR rules are if the track gets wet, they throw the caution once to give the teams a chance to put on rain tires if they choose to do so. After that, no cautions unless the track is not in condition to race (puddles, vision issues, etc.) or lightning. If it rains Saturday during practice and not Sunday for qualifying/race, it might throw projections off how certain drivers will do. I expect a lot of mistakes on Sunday.
Best Bets Recap - The Drydene 400 at Dover International
Kyle Busch (-112 FanDuel) vs. Chase Elliott- This was my Twitter H2H matchup that I posted two weeks ago. I liked Elliot at Darlington and he let me down. Elliott wasn’t having the success that his Hendrick teammates were so it was time to pounce on this matchup again. Now though, I would be on Kyle Busch who has had success at Dover and take advantage of the struggling Elliott. By lap 26, it was pretty much all over for Busch who was having engine problems and finished 7 laps down. How did Elliott fare out? Finished 3rd. The Hendrick cars finished 1-2-3-4, the 3rd time in NASCAR history that a team has finished 1-4 in a series event.
Twitter H2H Matchup – Ryan Blaney (+115 BetOnline) vs. Brad Keselowski- Blaney had an up and down day but he was able to finish 12th and Keselowski came in 16th. I thought I hit bad luck again when Blaney ran over debris from a crash. He was behind Keselowski for the second half of the race but luck was on our side. When the field pitted after Almirola wrecked, Keselowski had to pit a second time because a lug nut got caught between the brake caliber and wheel. While the finishing position doesn’t seem too close, at one point Keselowski was only a second behind Blaney. No worries, Blaney came through for the win.
Drivers to Look Out For
Chase Elliott (+250 DraftKings)- He is the king of the road courses. Since 2018, he has an average finish 8.1 and that includes 5 wins, the most out of any current driver. If you take out the 2021 Daytona Road Course where Elliott was cruising to a victory until a “rain caution” came out and the 2019 Sonoma race where he had engine problems that average jumps up to 2.1. All of Elliott’s teammates have a win. The pressure is building. If he can secure a victory here, lookout for the #9 team to go on a huge roll.
Martin Truex Jr (+450 DraftKings)- The original king of the road course. Truex Jr and Elliott are the two superpowers when it comes to this style of racing. Since 2018, Truex Jr has a better average finish of 5.4. On the other hand, Truex Jr only has 2 wins during that same stretch. COTA is a very technical track compared to the Charlotte Roval or Daytona Road Course. In that sense I would give Truex Jr the slight upper hand. Truex Jr was slated to dominate last week’s Dover race. It didn’t happen. This would be a perfect place for a rebound performance.