EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN) favorites, sleepers, fades and COTA track trends

TRACK: COTA (3.410-mile road course) DISTANCE: 68 Laps – STAGE 1: 15 Laps, Stage 2: 30 Laps, FINAL STAGE 38 LAPS, 231.880 Miles)


TRACK HISTORY/TRENDS

This will be the 3rd ever race on this track so there’s not much history or trends to witness here. The inaugural race in 2021 was run in the rain. Last year’s in the clear skies but a new car. This year, we have the second year of this new Next Gen model but this being the first road course event of the season, how much does the 2022 package work in 2023?

Last year, starting spots on road courses didn’t matter. The starting spots of the eventual winners were: 16th (COTA), 8th (Sonoma), 4th (Road America), 1st (Indy), 2nd (Watkins Glen) and 8th (Charlotte ROVAL).


Live Betting

  • Last year, none of the road course races saw a driver that had won finish in the points in Stage 1. However, each of the last 3 races run this season saw the eventual race winner win the opening stage.
  • In Stage 2, they finished: 8th (COTA), 4th (Sonoma), 10th (Road America), no points (Indy) and 8th (Watkins Glen), no points (ROVAL). This season, each of the last two race winners were second in the second stage while winning the stage three races ago. In fact, the eventual winner was 4th at Daytona in Stage 2, 2nd in Fontana, 1st in Vegas and 2nd in each Phoenix and Atlanta.
  • In 5 of the 6 road courses run, the only laps led by the eventual winner all occurred in the final stage. However, they mostly dominated that final stage too as 3 of the 6 road courses last season were won by a driver that also led the most laps too.

TRACK COMPARISONS

The closest would be the standalone road courses in Road America, Watkins Glen and Sonoma. COTA has plenty of turns that range from high speed to low speed so it’s a combo of all.


AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 27: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 ONX Homes/iFly Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Echopark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 27, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Favorites

Trackhouse Racing

They’ve won 2 of the 6 road course races last year including this very one. Daniel Suarez (+1500) led every lap of the first stage here in COTA while Ross Chastain (+800) dominated the final stage en route to his first career win. A year ago, Suarez won in Sonoma, was also 5th in Road America, lined up 5th on the final restart in Indy and finished 5th in Watkins Glen. Chastain also was 7th in Sonoma and 4th in Road America. He crossed the finish line 2nd at Indy before his penalty was levied and only 21st in Watkins Glen. They look better now than they did a year ago.

Kyle Busch (+800)

He was 10th in 2021 but 28th last year. However, he’s not a bad road racer and inherits a car that had two wins and five top eight finishes in six road course events from 2022. Busch also won an offseason race on this very track in a endurance event for RCR as well.

Tyler Reddick (+900)

He’s qualified first and fourth respectively here and finished ninth and fifth. Reddick also had a pair of wins (Road America, Indy) to go along with being 5th (COTA), 7th (Watkins Glen) and 8th (Charlotte ROVAL) last season. He comes into this race with two straight Top-5 finishes too.

AJ Allmendinger (+1200)

12 of his 17 career Cup and Xfinity Series wins came on road courses including last year’s NXS race at COTA. He also won Indy last in 2021, was in the top 3 on the final lap in COTA last year, was in the top 10 late in the race at Sonoma last year, finished 9th in Road America, 7th at Indy again last July and runner-up at Watkins Glen.


AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 27: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford, Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, Cole Custer, driver of the #41 One Cure Ford, Chase Briscoe, driver of the #14 Mahindra Tractors Ford, Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Llumar Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Echopark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 27, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Sleepers

Austin Cindric (+1500)

He finished 8th, 5th, 7th, 2nd, 13th and 21st on 6 road courses in 2022. He’s a road racer by nature. Worth a look.

Alex Bowman (+2000)

Bowman also was runner-up at COTA last season and 8th in the inaugural race. While his other 4 road course finishes (16th, 12th, 32nd, 14th) leave more to be desired, I like his past COTA stats and the momentum that he brings in.

Chase Briscoe (+2500)

He was 6th in the inaugural race and had some top 10’s on past road races too. Worth a look his direction.

Chris Buescher (+3000)

His last 5 road course finishes of last season read: 2nd (Sonoma), 6th (Road America), 10th (Indianapolis), 9th (Watkins Glen) and 6th (ROVAL).

Michael McDowell (+3000)

A road racer by nature has 4 top 10’s on them last season including a 3rd in Sonoma and 6th in Watkins Glen. He was 7th in the inaugural year and 13th last season.

Erik Jones (+5000)

9th here last year, 10th at Watkins Glen and 11th on the ROVAL give me pause that Jones could sneak his way to the front on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen (+5000)

I truly think Raikkonen has a chance to win Sunday’s race. He’s won here before in F1. The team (Trackhouse) won here last year. Plus, in his NASCAR Cup Series debut, Raikkonen made it all the way up to the top 10 before being an innocent bystander in a midrace crash.

“I had a fantastic time in NASCAR,” said Räikkönen. “There was a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, but everyone was very helpful, the competition was a big challenge. This time I get to race on a track I am familiar with so there won’t be as steep of a learning curve. I want to have fun, but also do as well as we can.”


Who To Fade?

Kyle Larson (+650)

He was runner-up in 2021 but struggled here last year. However, he later won at Watkins Glen and has 2 top 4 finishes in his last 4 road course starts last season but was only 35th his last time out on the ROVAL. He didn’t look like the 2021 version of Larson on road courses last season.

William Byron (+1200)

He’s not had a top 5 in any of the six road course races last season with a best result of 9th. He’s finished 11th and 12th respectively here.

Ryan Blaney (+1500)

Had just a pair of sixth place finishes on road courses last year as his only top 10’s in six starts on them. Here in COTA, he’s started 9th and on the pole (last year) but has just one career lap led also and finishes of 17th and 6th respectively.

Joey Logano (+2500)

He only scored a top 10 twice in six road courses last year being 6th in Indy and 3rd in Watkins Glen too. While he was third here in 2021, he was also just 31st last year. He qualified sixth in both races.

Toyota’s

The road courses a year ago were dismal for them. Yes, changes have been made to the package, but will it help them? I struggle it will help them make such a drastic leap from where they were a year ago. Martin Truex Jr (+3000) finished 7th, 26th, 13th, 21st, 23rd and 17th in the 6 races on them. Denny Hamlin (+2500) was 18th, 31st, 17th, 14th, 20th and 13th. Kyle Busch was 28th, 30th, 29th, 11th, 32nd and third. Christopher Bell being 3rd, 27th, 18th, 12th, 8th and first. Bubba Wallace (+5000) was 38th, 36th, 35th, 5th, 35th and 7th. The 45 ride which is now the 23 was 32nd, 18th, 23rd, 17th, 16th and 22nd between Kurt Busch and Ty Gibbs (+5000).

That’s why I’m punting on them despite some up end of season success.

Kevin Harvick (+3000)

He had 3 top 10’s in 6 road course races last season including just 2 top 5’s. His pair of COTA finishes are 37th and 11th respectively. Harvick had no top five finishes in seven road course appearances in 2021 either.

Brad Keselowski (+3000)

He’s not been his best on road courses including being 19th here in 2021 and 14th last year. For the 2021 season, Keselowski was fifth on the Daytona ROVAL but 19th, 15th, 13th, 35th 24th and 20th respectively every where else on road courses. Last year, those finishes were 14th, 10th, 33rd, 20th, 19th and 14th respectively.

Austin Dillon (+8000)

His road course finishes in 2022 were 19th, 11th, 31st, 30th, 7th and 10th respectively.

Aric Almirola (+10000)

These are not his better tracks. He’s not had a top 10 in any of the 6 road course races last season with COTA finishes being 26th and 19th respectively.

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