Echo Park Automotive Grand Prix Value Picks

by | Last updated Mar 20, 2024 | nascar

Race: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix
Date: Sunday, March 24, 2024
Track: Circuit of the Americas
Time: 3:30 pm ET
Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

As predicted, Denny Hamlin came away as the top dog at Bristol this past weekend, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson to round out your top 5 finishers. It was a pretty solid win for Hamlin, coming to the checkered flag 1.083 seconds ahead of his teammate. It was a hard-fought race for many drivers after tires really ruled the storyline throughout the afternoon. I mentioned in the preview last week that tire management would be critical, but I don’t think any of us expected the fallout from the tires we saw on Sunday. Generally, the concrete surface at Bristol definitely creates an element of strategy that the drivers have to utilize to successfully navigate the race, but for some reason, drivers couldn’t get through 40 to 45 laps without their tires going completely to the cords. That was definitely an unusual scenario. There are a couple of things that may have caused this to happen. NASCAR has been utilizing a traction compound (PJ1) on the bottom of these tracks, but they chose a different resin for some reason this weekend. On the flip side, the track was 10-15 degrees cooler than the last time these guys ran on it in the Fall race of 2023. Whatever the case, it destroyed the tires and made running the top line nearly impossible as well.

That showed the experience of the veteran drivers, with the top 3 spots being ruled by the older guys. They were able to navigate the troubles better than the rookie drivers or even some of the younger guns. For Hamlin, Bristol is almost a home track and a place near and dear to him, as he grew up in Chesterfield and has had similar success at both Martinsville and Richmond. Hamlin also had more success this weekend with pit stops over Truex, giving him enough edge to win. Truex mentioned in post-race interviews that he had to use much more tire in the last run trying to catch Hamlin after losing time in the pits. The top 5 drivers were the only drivers remaining on the lead lap when the race came to a close. This was the first time since Dover 2004 that only five drivers or fewer finished on the lead lap. It was certainly not a great day for a lot of the field. William Byron had a considerable defeat after hitting the wall on lap 21 and ending his day eight laps down. Luckily, he’s already locked into the playoffs, but points mean a great deal. For Hamlin, he’s now locked himself into the championship and is free to collect points and take the weight of qualifying for the playoffs off his shoulders.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

This weekend, the drivers are headed to the first road course of the season. Circuit of the Americas is next up for the drivers and teams. This track proves to be an enjoyable one to watch as a spectator and a fun one to drive if you ask many of these guys. It’s a pretty length road course at 3.41 miles, actually the longest of any that are included in the Cup Series circuit. It provides a lot of different technical turns, including 11 left turns, nine right turns, and a total of 133 feet of elevation. For the teams, this is an absolute challenge because NASCAR has only been racing here since 2021. They’ve decided to allow an extended practice this week, which will definitely help many of these guys who are still working on how to get the best speed out of these cars through a very technical course. The challenge will be not only getting the best speed but also learning how to use the brakes in the heavy braking zones without coming in too hot and hitting the guys in front of and around you. That is always a fun thing to watch.

Wager on who wins plus driver vs. driver matchup bets at Bovada!

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner at COTA, as mentioned, we’ve only experienced a total of 3 races here with the NASCAR Cup Series. Of those three races, Chase Elliott has only run in 2, but he has a win and another top 5 finish, leaving him with the best average finish of all drivers. Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick also have wins here. In 3 races, Chastain has 3 top 5 finishes. That should definitely be on your radar, while some other drivers might give us some pause. Those who seem to be week in and week out strong finishers have struggled consistently at COTA. Kyle Larson, for example, has an average finish of 15th after three races, with only 1 top-5 finish. Last week’s winner, Denny Hamlin, also is someone that struggles here with an average finish of 16th and no finishes inside the top 10 since running here in 2021. We should also take note of the drivers that typically run well on road courses, whereas they may not run quite as well on the traditional ovals. Let’s take a look at your potential winners with betting odds from Bovada heading into this weekend’s race:

  • Winner: Chase Elliott +700
  • Mid-Range Pick: AJ Allmendinger +1600
  • Dark Horse: Erik Jones 20000

Allmendinger doesn’t have the best COTA averages, but with a top-10 finish and a slew of road course successes, Allmendinger is never one to count out. His excitement is also infectious when it comes to these types of tracks. Don’t count him out. Erik Jones has been a mid-pack runner at COTA with an average finish of about 17 place. He’s been having a decent year so far, and this weekend will hopefully give him another solid finish. If I had to guess, Chase Elliott is going to be the guy to beat. He’s looking for some redemption as we head into COTA. Elliott is a seven time road course winner and won this race in 2021 in the rain. He’s very well versed in navigating technical tracks, and I anticipate this weekend will be no exception. Although he didn’t race last year, I don’t think that’s going to hinder his ability to get to victory lane. Due to his success at all road courses, including COTA, Elliott will be tough to beat. He’s also looking to add to his points and secure his spot in the playoffs. There’s no better place for him than a road course to be in contention for the win. Let’s take a look at where Elliott and the rest of the drivers are sitting in the points after a tumultuous run at Bristol:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Ty Gibbs
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Chase Elliott
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Christopher Bell
  9. Tyler Reddick
  10. William Byron
  11. Daniel Suarez
  12. Alex Bowman
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Chris Buescher
  15. John H. Nemechek
  16. Kyle Busch

There were definitely some big losers after Bristol. Busch lost five positions, Byron lost six positions, and Reddick dropped four spots. Some of the biggest winners after Bristol were Ty Gibbs, gaining three spots, along with both Elliott and Hamlin. Keselowski gained the most with nine spots, and I think that he’s going to be a contender this weekend as well. Keselowski tends to race hard on the road courses and has had some good success through the years. His experience will likely pay off. Nemechek will have some experience to gain, but he made up some ground and got himself back into the top 16 after Bristol. Although he’s never raced at COTA in the Cup Series, he will be looking to stay out of trouble and have a solid finish. This weekend will undoubtedly give us some exciting racing. COTA is a very technical track and a place that provides a lot of “hold your breath” moments. The drivers will be battling the length of the track along with the turns and braking zones through 68 total laps. Stay tuned for an exciting Sunday afternoon of racing at our first road course of the season!