Prime Sports NASCAR – weekly picks from COTA recap with look ahead to Richmond

Last weekend was a get right race for us. Ross Chastain was such an obvious pick at 25-1 that it didn’t make much sense not to pick him. We all did and that led to a big win for Greg ($150) and smaller wins, but albeit wins, for Eric and CJ.

CJ had 1st, 4th, 8th, 30th, 31st and 33rd finishers in COTA. Eric had 1st, 4th, 5th, 29th and 32nd while Greg had 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 24th, 28th and 32nd.

Now, it’s to Richmond.

This is what you’d call a get right race for Joe Gibbs Racing right? They’ve won 8 of the last 12 races in Richmond and need a result as badly as anyone else. They’re 0-for-6 to start 2022 off with and haven’t won at all in the last 12 races including just 3 wins in the last 24 in general.

But, can you just flip a switch that quickly?

I think so. Here’s why.

Christopher Bell was fourth and third respectively last year in Richmond. He enters off of a 3rd place finish last weekend and if not for a penalty in Atlanta on the last lap, would have had a top three that day as well. He crossed the finish line second that day.

Martin Truex Jr. has to be the overall favorite, right? Truex, swept both Richmond races in 2019 and was runner-up in 2020. He also won the Fall race last year and was fifth in the spring. He’s coming into the weekend with 3 top 8’s in the last 4 weeks. Also, 11 of his first 19 Cup wins were on intermediate tracks. It wasn’t until his 20th win that came via a short track. But, over his last 11 trips to victory lane, 8 have come on tracks 1-mile in length or shorter including each of his last six. In fact, 3 of those last 8 came at the Richmond Raceway.

Denny Hamlin has no top 10’s all season but was runner-up in both races last year including leading 207 laps in the spring and 197 in the Fall. Hamlin, has nine top six finishes in his last 11 Richmond starts.

Kyle Busch has seven straight top nine results including a top two in nearly half of his last 12 Richmond starts.

The thing is, you get them for all great odds at the moment. That could change after qualifying in the sense that Bell has 3 top 7 qualifying efforts in the last 4 weeks. Hamlin has 4 top 8’s in his last 5 qualifying tries with Busch having 5 of his 7 races see him come from the top 6 Rows and Truex Jr. the only one without a solid qualifying effort but also 9 of his last 10 in Richmond him starting in the top 4 rows at that. For Hamlin, he’s started in the top 4 rows in 7 of his last 8 at Richmond while Busch has a top 10 start in 4 of the last 5 and Bell in 2 of his 3.

Those odds could really drop on Saturday night for these four.

If they don’t compete for a win, that’s saying something. However, Vegas doesn’t necessarily trust in them in the fact that they’re all behind the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kyle Larson (9-1) and Chase Elliott (9-1) in odds.

Last year, Truex Jr. was listed as the favorite at 4-1. Hamlin was 6-1. They’re 10-1 and 12-1 respectively now.

Plus, do you really trust HMS too? While they’ve been the most dominant team in NASCAR the last couple of years with 2 championships to go along with 3 wins in the last 5 weeks as well as 8 of the last 11 overall if you go back to last year, they’re 1-for-25 in the last 25 Richmond races though.

Alex Bowman won last spring but it was more of a fluke rather than on merit. The race that day was a JGR/Penske battle that saw a late caution swing the race in Bowman’s favor. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano had the cars to beat that day.

Chase Elliott did finish fifth last year and was second and fourth respectively in 2018, but he’s also been outside of the top 10 in seven of his other nine Richmond starts and has just 1 top five all year. He’s also not won on an oval since Phoenix (2020).

William Byron has never scored a top five or eve led a lap at Richmond before as the spring race was his first top 10 at that.

Kyle Larson has no top fives in his last six starts there.

Plus, when HMS hasn’t been contending for wins this season, they’ve not been on their games. Larson has 4 finishes of 29th or worse. Bowman has 2 top 5 and 2 results of 24th or worse too. Byron has 2 top fives but 3 finishes of 18th or worse including 2 outside the top 30 as well.

The door is open which is why we have favorable odds this weekend.

We’ve already seen a 50-1 winner (Phoenix), 28-1 winner (Daytona), 25-1 winner (COTA), 18-1 winner (Vegas) and 12-1 winner (Atlanta). Do past stats really even matter? That’s what you have to balance right now with 3 of the 6 races being won by 1st time drivers.

Tyler Reddick could be next up. His teammate runs well in Richmond and here Reddick was with an 11th place result on this very race track in 2020. Reddick, also had three straight top 10 finishes in his NXS career at Richmond as well but was only 20th and 15th last year. I still have him as a sleeper. Reddick, has had race winning cars in every race this season. He swept both stages in Fontana (90 laps led), finished 7th in Vegas, 3rd in Phoenix and restarted in overtime with the lead in COTA.

Daniel Suarez was 100-1 entering last weekend’s race but is now down to 25-1. Worth a look.

Race Odds

9-1…C Elliott (CJ, Greg) and K Larson

10-1…Kyle B (Eric, CJ) J Logano (CJ) and M Truex Jr. (Eric, CJ, Greg)

11-1…W Byron

12-1…R Chastain (Eric) D Hamlin (Eric, CJ) and T Reddick (Eric, CJ)

13-1…R Blaney (CJ)

14-1…C Bell (Eric, CJ, Greg)

18-1…A Bowman (Greg), C Briscoe (CJ) and K Harvick (Greg)

25-1…D Suarez (Eric, Greg)

30-1…A Almirola (Eric,

40-1…AJ Allmendinger, A Cindric and A Dillon (Greg)

50-1…Kurt B and E Jones (Eric)

70-1…B Keselowski (Greg)

100-1…C Buescher, C Custer (Eric, and R Stenhouse Jr.

150-1…H Burton, J Haley and D Wallace Jr.

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