Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Texas NASCAR Betting Preview: 2022 AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500

 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Picks, Predictions

The 30th race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway also kicks off the Round of 12 in the playoffs in Sunday’s AutoTrader Echo-Park Automotive 500. Four drivers were chopped from playoff contention last week while three non-playoff drivers won all three races in the Round of 16. There have been 19 different winners so far in what has been the most parity I’ve ever seen in NASCAR. The NextGen car has done its job. Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, and Chris Buescher told the playoffs to hold their beer while winning the last three, and all at 20-to-1 or higher prices. That’s four straight high-odds payouts when including Austin Dillon’s Daytona win in the cutoff race.  

Let’s get to work and find this week’s Texas winners. I take at the top portion of the odds chart using odds courtesy of BetMGM.


Flip the switch, it’s playoff time. That’s what it looks like has happened. Denny Hamlin (6/1) gave a sign on the 1.5-and 2-mile tracks that he was ready to roll and then he started the playoffs with two runner-ups. It has to be one of his wildest seasons of his career, but he might just win his first championship and I can’t wait to see it. He has three Cup wins at Texas and a 13th-place average finish in 31 starts. He also gets a boost by getting Kyle Busch’s pit crew who has been one of the best this season. He thinks this Texas race is huge in this round. 

“This is going to be a very important race,” Hamlin said. “With the unknowns of Talladega and the (Charlotte) ROVAL, we’re looking at Texas as a place we can go run up front, try to maximize our points and be in contention for the win. Passing was very difficult in the All-Star Race though, so I expect that to be the case like it has been for the last few years at Texas, so qualifying up front and having a smooth day on the track and on pit road are going to be key for us to have a shot.”

Christopher Bell (13/2) is coming strong with three top-fives in the Round of 16. He leads all Toyota drivers with 10 Top-fives this season and he has a great track history on his home track with a 2017 Truck Series win and a 2019 Xfinity Series win. His next step in the progression is winning at Texas in the Cup Series. Caesars has him at 8-to-1 odds.

“The two ends of the track are completely different,” Bell said of Texas. “We have the All-Star race under our belt with the NextGen car and turns 3 & 4 have lots of throttle time, tons of banking, and lots of grip with the repave, and turns 1 & 2 have lots of grip but they don’t have the banking to hold you. Drastically different corners for sure. Long runs are where we’ve been really good and I’m excited to kick off the next round of the Playoffs at my home track.”

Christopher Bell has seen a Top 5 result in three straight races. (Getty)

Kyle Larson (7/1) won at Texas in the Cup Series for the first time last season after winning also winning the All-Star Race there. He was dialed in in 2021. They had a huge edge over everyone winning 10 times and winning the championship, but just two wins this season. What did he learn from last season’s incredible run that he can apply this week as he starts the Round of 12? 

"Be clean and let the other teams make the mistakes,” Larson said. “Honestly, if you can just finish you don’t have to do anything crazy in the first couple rounds. Don’t take yourself out of stage points or a good finish and you can advance. Once you get to the Round of 8, that’s obviously when you need to get some top-five finishes or a win. You just don’t want to take yourself out of any race or get any DNF or anything like that where you put yourself in a must-win situation because winning is really difficult to do. You just want to keep yourself in contention every race."

Chase Elliott (8/1) has the championship vibe going and leads all drivers in points (3040), wins (4), and is tied with his teammate with 11 top-fives. In 11 Cup races at Texas he has two top-fives and an 11.5 average finish.

"I’d love to go to Texas this weekend and have a good, solid run and start this round off on a high note. We didn’t get to run the full All-Star Race earlier this year, but I still feel like we got enough track time to have good notes as we head back there. We just need to put a good weekend together and execute a solid day. If we can do that, then we have as good a shot as anyone to get a win and lock ourselves into the next round."


Date: Sunday, September 25, 2022
Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Distance: 501 miles
Laps: 334
Network-Time: USA - 3:30 p.m.
Defending Champion: Kyle Larson

Martin Truex Jr (10/1) has five top-fives in 32 Cup starts at Texas and 17 top-10s with 674 laps led. He was the best on 1.5s for a few years and never won here. He’s definitely got more speed now like all the Toyotas on the big tracks. He was fifth at Kansas after leading 24 laps.

“I’m looking forward to the race,” Truex said. “As a whole, I feel like the Toyotas have ran really well on these types of tracks, so if we can put a full race together, I have a lot of confidence in what we’re capable of.”

Kyle Busch has failed to see a Top 10 result in 12 of 14 races. (Getty)

In 31 Cup starts at Texas, Kyle Busch (10/1) has four wins, 14 top-fives, 18 top10s, and 1,069 laps led. He also has 10 Xfinity Series wins and five Trucks Series win. He had a quick exit from the playoffs despite fast cars. He’ll be the weekly wild card, the unknown element of the betting equation. It’s important to realize that his only win came on the ridiculous Dirt Race at Bristol. I wonder if they learned anything from the All-Star Race they can use this week.

“I don’t know, we obviously were very fast there in the All-Star Race until we had the tire issue,” Busch said. “We’d like to think we can go out there and we’re fast and we have good strong racecars. As far as the track and the resin, I’m hoping we can dabble in it a little longer the outside way around, but it does seem to have grip and you can make some runs off the top of the corners and try to make some moves down the straightaway and such. Same old Texas, it looked to me there in the spring, from that standpoint.”

Ryan Blaney (10/1) dominated the All-Star Race at Texas in May after leading a race-high 84 laps. He won $1 million for the win, but it’s an unofficial non-points win. He still has no wins in 2022 when everyone else seems to be winning. This is a great track for him as he’s finished eighth or better in nine of his last 10 Texas starts which includes two All-Star races. He’s still alive racing for the championship.


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