NASCAR Betting Guide: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

Michael McDowell shined on road courses in 2022. Can he carry that success into Sunday's race at the Circuit of the Americas?

Find me a sicker entry list than the one we get for this weekend's Cup Series race at the Circuit of the Americas. I dare you.

It'll be a pointless endeavor because this puppy is loaded. Not only do you have the Cup regulars, but you're adding in Jimmie Johnson, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, and Jordan Taylor, who have combined to win seven Cup championships, two Formula 1 driver titles, and three IMSA SportsCar Championships.

That's not to mention Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner, who will be in the broadcast booth, keeping the FCC on its toes at all times.

Because of this, we're gonna have a blast on Sunday regardless. The race should be entertaining all on its own.

That's a good thing because there's not a ton of value to be had in the betting markets right now.

In this era of NASCAR, we get six road-course races per year. That's a big sample to help us decide who is best able to handle all the twists and turns.

On top of that, the manufacturer that dominated road courses last year -- Chevy -- has gotten off to a blazing start in 2023.

So, things are pretty thin out there. As a result, I'm fine largely holding off on outrights until we see practice on Friday. Sportsbooks haven't been perfect at handling practice and qualifying data this year, so I'm waiting to pick off values after the fact.

With that said, there are some good top-10 bets that I like in FanDuel Sportsbook's betting odds for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. Let's run through those now, and we can circle back on outrights and other markets later in the week.

Michael McDowell to Finish Top 10 (+165)

(UPDATE: McDowell since shortened to +145 to finish top 10. After qualifying, I have his top-10 odds up to 49.9%, so there's still value even in the new number if you didn't get in earlier.)

Last year was the first time we got to see Michael McDowell in somewhat even equipment with the field on a road course, and buddy went to work. Bookmakers are still skeptical of him, but I'm not.

In six road-course races, McDowell had four top-10 finishes (all eighth or better), and he had an eighth-place average running position in one of the exceptions. He was legitimately in contention almost every time.

As a result, my model shows value on McDowell to win at +3000. I'm okay slow-playing that one while being receptive to adding it post-practice. The top-10 mark, though, seems unlikely to stick around.

McDowell qualified seventh or better in four of the six races, including two runs inside the top five. He's likely to be fast right away, and if that happens, his betting odds will shorten. I want to get in front of that.

My model has McDowell in the top 10 48.9% of the time, up from 37.7% implied. That's a big edge, so I'm not going to risk missing out on it later.

Kevin Harvick to Finish Top 10 (+175)

(UPDATE: Harvick is still +175 to finish top 10, but after adding in practice and qualifying data, his odds in my model are down to 30.1%, below his implied mark. He doesn't tend to qualify or practice well, so this isn't a death sentence if you bet him earlier, but it does mean I'd pass if you aren't already in.)

Kevin Harvick doesn't have the same upside as McDowell, so the outright isn't as tempting. But he's steady, and that matters here.

In six Next-Gen races on road courses, Harvick has three top-10s. He was 11th and 12th in two of the others with the 11th-place run coming here at COTA. He finished races, and he was fast enough for that to matter.

Because of this combo, my model has Harvick's top-10 odds at 40.1%, up from 36.4% implied. I do think there's an argument to waiting as Harvick never qualified better than 18th on a road course last year, so there's a chance we could get a better number on Sunday. I think that's a fair point, so this one is more personal preference. I just have a hard time turning down almost four percentage points of value.

Ty Gibbs to Finish Top 10 (+430)

(UPDATE: Gibbs' top-10 odds are still +430. With qualifying and practice data in the mix, I've got his top-10 odds up to 28.4%, well clear of the 18.9% implied mark. This is one of the better values currently on the board.)

Despite Christopher Bell's win at Charlotte, Toyotas were booty on road courses last year. They combined for just two top-10 average running positions all year, both of which came from Bell.

My model is leaning on that data to determine Ty Gibbs' equipment prior. It knows they sucked. And yet it still thinks Gibbs is undervalued here.

Gibbs is a three-time road-course winner in the Xfinity Series, including a win in his first career race back in 2021. He got wins while dueling with Kyle Larson and A.J. Allmendinger, who boast top-10 odds of -700 and -230, respectively, at FanDuel this weekend.

Granted, they're both in Chevys, and Gibbs is with the struggling Toyotas. But that's accounted for in this number, and it's always possible Toyota made gains during the offseason.

Due to the Toyota concerns, my model puts Gibbs' top-10 odds at 24.1%, well below those of Larson and Allmendinger. But it's still above his 18.9% implied odds at +430. I'm willing to bet on the talent once again here and snag a good road racer at a long number.

Ryan Preece to Finish Top 10 (+700)

(UPDATE: Preece is now 14.8% to finish top 10 for me. That's still above his implied odds of 12.5%, though the gap is smaller than it was earlier in the week.)

Back in his JTG-Daugherty days, Ryan Preece never truly lit it up on road courses. He has just one career road-course top-10 in 12 races.

But he's with Stewart-Haas Racing now, who gave respectable cars to Harvick, Chase Briscoe, and Cole Custer on road courses last year. It's an equipment upgrade, and it's not as if Preece was fully out to lunch with his old team.

Preece has the same top-10 odds is in the same equipment as Aric Almirola, who has the same number of top-10s on road courses as Preece since 2019 despite running six more races. Basically, he'd need to struggle as much as Almirola does on road courses to justify a number this long, and we don't know if that'll be the case just yet.

As a result, my model has Preece's top-10 odds at 18.3%, up from 12.5% implied. He's a distant third behind his non-Almirola teammates, but until Preece gives us a reason to think otherwise, we should be higher on him in this equipment.

Post-Practice Addition: Tyler Reddick to Win (+900)

(UPDATE: Reddick has since shortened to +410 to win. The value's firmly gone there, so if you didn't get in at +900, I'd hold off.)

FanDuel was kind enough to keep odds posted during practice. And my gosh, was Tyler Reddick flying.

Reddick finished the session a full half second better than the pack on a single lap, and he was fourth-tenths better in five-lap average. Five-lap average can be fluky on road courses, but buddy boy was going nuts.

This is the first time we've seen Toyotas on a road course with the new rules package. It's too early to tell if they fixed their issues, but it was encouraging. Five Toyotas finished in the top 12 spots in five-lap average, again, including Reddick at the top.

Reddick proved last year he's among the best on this track type. So if Toyota has figured out their issues from last year, he could be a threat once again. I love him at this number.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Daniel Suarez to Win (+1200)

I had a bit of value on Daniel Suarez to win earlier in the week at +1500. I decided to hold off and see how things went on Friday and Saturday.

Suarez was fast there, and he's still a value for me even at a shortened number.

After adding in qualifying and practice data, I've got Suarez at 9.4% to win, up from 7.7% implied. He was fifth in single-lap speed in practice and then qualified fifth, as well. He's firmly within striking distance.

Suarez was the car to beat in this race last year, dominating the opening stage. He got stuck in traffic in the second stage, spun, and ruined his chances. But then he went out and won Sonoma to prove it wasn't a fluke.

Of the outrights available right now, Suarez is my favorite. He pairs quality runs last year with good speed this weekend, and you're not paying a premium to get him.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Starting Position of Race Winner 11th to 20th (+200)

This market wasn't super appealing before qualifying because you'd assume all the studs would qualify up front. But with both Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain here, this is suddenly a good bet.

I've got the odds of this range winning at 41.0%. Part of that is Larson and Chastain, but Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell both have at least 5.0% win odds in my model, as well, and Joey Logano's no slouch. This range is sneakily loaded.

My model does show value individually in all of Chastain (+950), Bell (+2500), and McDowell (+2500), so you could choose to bet them. But when I can lump then all together and get Larson to boot? Sign. Me. Up.