The odds are out for both of this weekend’s races for not only the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen but as well as the NTT IndyCar Series on the streets of Nashville. Basically, the oddsmakers are saying it’s either Chase Elliott vs. the field for Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN) and Josef Newgarden vs. the field for Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, INDYCAR Radio Network) directly after.
Should you just keep it simple and go with the heavy favorites or take the field?
My official picks are at COVERS on who I bet but here’s a case for either scenario.
Chase Elliott comes in at +200. I mean, why not? He’s only won the last two trips to Watkins Glen to go along with two of the last three road course races on the season as well. He’s also won six of the last eight road races in general overall.
It would seem sacrilegious to pick against him wouldn’t it?
Well, if you wanted the field, you get Martin Truex Jr. at 6-1 which is a decent price considering he won this race in 2017 and was runner-up to Elliott in both 2018 and again in 2019. That’s 4x the odds for a driver with those stats.
What about his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Kyle Busch? His last three road course finishes on the season were 10th, 5th and 3rd respectively. Trends say he will win on Sunday if he keeps that improvement up. Busch, has four top seven finishes in his last five tries at Watkins Glen including being a two-time winner there.
You also have another JGR driver in Denny Hamlin at 11-1. Hamlin, has three top eight’s in four road races this year to go along with three top fours in his last four starts at the Glen. While you’re at it, 15-1 is the fourth JGR driver in Christopher Bell. He won at Daytona on the road course, was runner-up in the last road course race in Road America to go along with runner-up in the last race run on the season in Loudon.
Elliott, really lucked into the win in COTA for which his Hendrick Motorsports teammate of Kyle Larson (+450) should have won but instead finished second. Larson, did win at Sonoma and had a top three going before being punted accidentally by his teammate towards the end of the July 4 race at Road America.
Where this is big is, Hendrick Motorsports has won 7 of the last 8 overall road course races in general. Counting Joe Gibbs Racing, them and HMS have combined to win each of the last 9 road course races.
Throw in Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.) who was aligned with JGR, these three teams have won 12 of the last 13 road course races. The only one they didn’t win was when Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) was victorious in 2018 on the Charlotte ROVAL when Truex was crashed in the final turn on the final lap or else it would be 13 straight.
Stewart-Haas Racing is the only other team to have won since 2015 on road courses. Hendrick has won 8 times, JGR has won 4 times, Furniture Row, SHR and Penske each twice themselves. That’s 18 races.
These are your top drivers and you can lay Elliott and take Larson and all four JGR drivers instead.
The Chip Ganassi Racing duo have to be the sleepers to maybe steal a win if someone outside of Hendrick, JGR or SHR win.
Ross Chastain (40-1) has been at his best somehow on road courses. He was fourth in COTA and scored a pair of seventh place finishes in Sonoma as well as Road America. His teammate Kurt Busch (20-1) has three top six finishes in four races on them this season and has seven straight top 11 results at the Glen.
That’s why this weekend is pretty simple there, is it Elliott or the field? Find out who I went with at COVERS.
This is simple too, do you want Josef Newgarden (+300) or the field? Since the start of the 2019 season, Newgarden is the only multi-time winner with three trips to victory lane on these types of tracks, two of which coming on the streets of St. Pete.
Newgarden’s finishes on street courses since that start of the 2019 season?
1st, 2nd, 1st, 19th, 4th, 1st, 2nd, 10th and 2nd respectively. While we’ve had parity, he’s the only constant up front with six top two’s in the last nine tries on them. He’s led 84% of the laps the last three races including a pole in all three and is also coming off of a victory the last time out in Mid-Ohio.
This is his hometrack.
But, you can get some value outside of him too.
A top trend to watch is, since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 46 of the 58 races run (79-percent). Penske has won 23 times with Ganassi (14) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than three.
Throw in RLL and you get 50 of 58 races won by these teams. You also can’t ignore Arrow McLaren SP who’s won twice this year either.
So, that means the winner likely comes from these teams. Coincidentally enough, these teams are the best on street courses too.
We’ve had three street races this season with three different winners (Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward) from three different teams (Andretti, Ganassi, AMSP). Do we see a fourth different street course winner in as many races on Sunday? If you go back to Race 2 at Belle Isle in 2019 though, we’ve had six straight different winners on street courses (Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Newgarden, Herta, Ericsson and O’Ward). In fact, we’ve had seven different winners in the last nine if you throw in Alexander Rossi’s 2019 triumph at Long Beach too.
We’ve also had eight different winners in 10 races run on the season too. How did this play into the scenario?
The big teams are strong on them with Penske winning four of those last nine races and Andretti scoring two wins and Ganassi two themselves. Arrow McLaren SP has the other victory in that span.
Andretti says this is their top types of circuits, where Penske is probably second in nature followed by Ganassi.
Will Power has yet to win this year and is +900. 15 of his 39 career wins have come on street courses and he’s had two top 10’s in three tries on them this season. The only one he didn’t have a top 10 was the race he dominated in Belle Isle and had the car to win but wouldn’t refire after a red flag period with him leading with only a couple of laps-to-go.
Alexander Rossi (+1400) has won the last two Long Beach street races, six top 10’s this season including three top seven’s in his last four starts. He got a top five in the last race at Mid-Ohio at that.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+5000) and James Hinchcliffe (+13000) both drive for Andretti and both have each won on street courses before. Hunter-Reay won the second ever Baltimore street race.
What about guys who have won? Colton Herta (+700) is good on street courses. So is Pato O’Ward (+800).
They went 1-2 (Newgarden, O’Ward) in the 2020 season finale at St. Pete and the only reason it wasn’t 1-2-3 was due to Herta’s late race misfortunes.
They went 1-2 again (Herta, Newgarden) at St. Pete back in March with Ericsson in seventh for a second straight year on the Florida circuit. In Belle Isle, it was 1-3 (Ericsson, O’Ward) in Race 1 and 1-2-4-9 (O’Ward, Newgarden, Herta, Ericsson) in Race 2.
Ericsson is +1600 and has three top six finishes, two of which being in the top two in his last four series starts.
Alex Palou is the points leader and you get him at +1000 right now. He has five podiums in his last six starts on the season. The only one he didn’t was his first ever start in Belle Isle. He rebounded to finish third the next day. This track, he doesn’t have a disadvantage like he had in Belle Isle as it’s the first time anyone has raced on it.
Do you go with Newgarden or one of these guys or maybe even a few more longershots? Find out at COVERS too.
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