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Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Betting Odds, Picks and Preview

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 kicks off this weekend with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. After a thrilling elimination race at the Charlotte ROVAL, we are now just three weeks away from the championship event. Should one of the remaining playoff drivers emerge victorious this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, they will clinch their spot in the Championship 4. The stakes are high and there are plenty of storylines to consider when breaking down this week’s NASCAR betting odds and picks. 

The following article offers a breakdown of the NASCAR odds and best NASCAR betting picks for Sunday afternoon’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr NASCAR betting odds picks Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Credit: Getty Images

Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Race Info

16th Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Date: Sunday, October 17, 2021
Start Time: 2 p.m. EST
Track: Texas Motor Speedway — Fort Worth, TX
Coverage: NBC
Distance: 501 miles
Stages: Three (Laps 1-105; 106-210; 211-334)
Pole Sitter: Kyle Larson
Defending Champion: Kyle Busch

🏎 Check out the complete Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 starting lineup and race stats!

Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Betting Odds

When it comes to this week’s NASCAR betting favorite, it’s hard to be surprised. Fresh off of earning Win No. 7 on the season last week at the ROVAL, pole-sitter Kyle Larson (+340) has been tabbed as the man to beat ahead of Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. Thanks to his seven victories and a ton of extra playoff points accrued from stage wins throughout the year, Larson enters the Round of 8 over 40 points ahead of the standings cutline. A win at Texas will ensure the No. 5 team claims its rightful spot in the Championship 4 after a phenomenal season.

Interestingly enough, Texas is a track that Larson has struggled at in previous seasons. Since 2017, a pair of top-5 finishes represent two of the three races in which he finished inside the top-30. Of course, Larson missed both of last year’s events at Texas and now has better equipment in his Hendrick Motorsports ride. He took home the $1 million prize by winning the NASCAR All-Star Race earlier this summer. Given how strong Chevrolet has been on the high downforce tracks all year, Larson will be tough to beat come Sunday.

Playoff Drivers Dominate Top of the Odds Board

While Kyle Larson is a sizable NASCAR betting favorite, the odds clearly believe that his top competition this Sunday will come from the other playoff drivers. Given that all eight of the remaining championship contenders come from arguably the top three teams in the sport, it’s no surprise to see them dominate the odds board. We know that this year’s NASCAR Cup Series Champion will come from one of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske.

After winning the opening race in each of the previous two playoff rounds, Denny Hamlin (+600) is the second choice in this week’s NASCAR betting odds. He is followed by defending Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 winner and JGR teammate, Kyle Busch (+700). Chase Elliott (+750), Martin Truex Jr., (+900) Ryan Blaney (+900) and Joey Logano (+1200) are the next four drivers in terms of outright betting odds. The only playoff driver residing below a few non-championship contenders is Brad Keselowski (+1800). Given that he is leaving Team Penske for Roush Fenway Racing next year, many believe he could be getting the shaft as far as equipment quality down the stretch compared to his teammates.

Handicapping Emphasis on Recent Texas Races

It’s important for bettors to narrow their handicapping focus down to the most recent eight races run at Texas Motor Speedway. Prior to the 2017 season, the track received not only a repave but a reconfiguration as well. Emphasis on older Texas results when making NASCAR betting picks should be decreased as a result of the track changes.

Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Betting Picks

Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (+900)

Statistically, Martin Truex Jr. lags behind a bit when it comes to Texas Motor Speedway. However, a few outliers really skew his average finish. Instead of focusing on the fact that he has averaged a 15.83 finish in the last six races, I want to talk about the fact that MTJ has had five top-10’s since the track reconfiguration in 2017. Furthermore, two of those runs saw him finish runner-up, including this very race last fall. If not for self-inflicted wounds, Truex might have doubled his win total of four this season. The fact that he still begins the Round of 8 above the cutline speaks to the speed and resilience of the No. 19 team all year long. Look for Truex to get the job done on Sunday and book his trip to the Championship 4 at Phoenix.

Joey Logano NASCAR Cup Series betting picks odds
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Betting Picks

Top 5 Finish: Joey Logano (+140)

Joey Logano has only won once all season long. That victory came all the way back in the spring in the Bristol Dirt Race. Yet, the No. 22 team is among the eight left standing in the battle for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. It pays to be consistent, and Logano has been the definition of consistent all season long. Focusing on the six playoff races run thus far, Logano has no finish worse than 11th. Four top-10’s and a pair of top-5’s have helped power him into the Round of 8 on points.

Logano has also been one of the best drivers in the sport at Texas Motor Speedway over the years. In the eight points races run since the 2017 track reconfiguration, Logano has finished inside the top-5 in exactly half of them. He also has three additional top-10 showings to his name. In this summer’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas, Logano was fourth. He has clearly demonstrated to have a handle on this 1.5-mile oval. 

Race Matchup: Kevin Harvick Over William Byron (+120)

Whether you choose to view him as the perpetrator or victim of last week’s drama at the ROVAL, it was a race that Kevin Harvick would probably like to forget. He ultimately threw away his spot in the Round of 8 by locking up the brakes and smashing his car into the wall on a late restart. A ticked-off Harvick is never fun for the other drivers to race against, but it does set up a nice spot for NASCAR betting picks.

🔊 Listen to the Burnt Rubber Racing podcast for more NASCAR betting picks and analysis!

Since the Texas Motor Speedway repave and reconfiguration in 2017, Harvick has bagged three wins, six top-5’s and seven top-10’s in eight points races. Since 2018, he leads the NASCAR Cup Series in both average finish (5.5) and driver rating (116.0) at Texas. Meanwhile, William Byron was also eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs last week. His six Cup Series starts at Texas to date pale in comparison to Harvick’s success. His best finish of sixth represents one of only two top-10 results. A play on Harvick in this head-to-head is heavily supported by track-specific stats.

Best Finish in Group C: Kurt Busch (+290)

NASCAR betting picks involving veteran Kurt Busch has been a staple of this column throughout the second half of the season. The four-driver groups are a wager where Busch has done very well. There’s no reason to expect anything different in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. Busch ran well in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas this summer, scoring a top-10 finish. When it comes to actual points-paying races since the 2017 track renovations, Busch has been as consistent as anyone. He has finished inside the top-10 in all eight races. While he hasn’t had a finish better than seventh, that could be all it takes to win Group C this week.

Joining Busch in this group are a pair of Hendrick Motorsports drivers in William Byron (+240) and Alex Bowman (+290), as well as Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski (+260). None of the three come anywhere close to matching Busch’s stats at Texas. Byron holds the next best average finish over the last six races at just 16.5. Since the 2017 track reconfiguration, Byron, Bowman and Keselowski have combined for eight top-10 finishes in the eight races run. That matches Busch’s number of top-10’s over that same span. Add in the motivation of trying to score one last win for Chip Ganassi before he leaves NASCAR at the end of the year and the No. 1 team is a solid bet in Group C.

Best Finish in Group F: Cody Ware (+150)

If you listened to the Burnt Rubber Racing podcast this week, you knew this was coming. NASCAR betting Group F honestly deserves an article all its own. After sizing up the stats and considering the line move in his favor, I am officially going in on favorite Cody Ware to win Group F. The son of the Rick Ware Racing team owner, Cody figures to have a slight equipment advantage over second choice, Josh Bilicki, in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500. Looking back on other races this season that ran under the high downforce package, Ware’s No. 51 Chevrolet has outperformed Bilicki’s No. 52 Ford on a consistent basis.

While Ware has yet to run a NASCAR Cup Series points race at Texas, he did finish 11th in the All-Star Open earlier this summer. That finish was ahead of Bilicki, StarCom Racing’s Quin Houff and MBM Motorsports driver Timmy Hill. Look no further than Houff’s pit stop at TMS last year for an idea of the quality of driver in the No. 00. While Hill is a former NASCAR iRacing winner at Texas from a year ago, the No. 13 Toyota is the lesser-used MBM car. His real-life average finish of 35.25 in four starts ranks behind both Houff and Bilicki. It truly comes down to the two Rick Ware drivers in this NASCAR betting group. Ware’s odds have dropped from 2-1 earlier in the week. We have no choice but to follow the money and side with the best equipment of the foursome.

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