The long shots keep coming through. The Best Bets article did not predict the specific long shot winner for the second week in a row at Bristol (it did have Brad Keselowski at +10,000), but the strategy was once again correct. The Next Gen car is a mess and it gets messier every week. Long live the long shot. As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas, which gets underway Sunday, September 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
A 500 mile race in the Next Gen car. What could go wrong? On one hand, there will be plenty of mechanical failures on Sunday, but 500 miles provides ample time for some top-tier drivers to overcome unfortunate events. Still, the random volatility multiplied by the excessive amount of laps opens Victory Lane up to a possible long shot. On the other hand, 500 miles at Texas requires luck and a very strong car that could only be built by the top-tier teams. Bubba Wallace won a 400 mile race at Kansas, but he belongs to a top-tier team.
The key at Texas is to avoid chasing a Hail Mary and find good equipment that is undervalued. The devaluation could be for a number of reasons, but it does not perfectly reflect the speed and handling of the car.
Race Winner — AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500
These aren’t the longest odds, but they are very enticing given the circumstance. Busch has suffered two engine failures in three weeks. It could happen again and that’s a reason for depressed odds. His engine could also be fine, and if that’s the case, +900 is too long.
The Toyotas have been the best cars this season — when not blowing up. Busch has not lost a step. In fact, he had the best car at Texas in the All-Star race in the spring. Not only will Busch have the setup, but he’s racing for wins. He’s out of the playoffs and out of this car in two months. The speed and motivation should make Busch a favorite at Texas.
These odds seem very long for a driver with multiple wins this season. Is the No. 22 Penske Ford the best car right now? No, but who cares? Was Chris Buescher’s car the best when he won or was Bubba Wallace the best the week before that? Erik Jones, anyone? There have been 20 winners this season counting the All-Star race. Logano is absolutely fast enough and to get him at +2000 is shocking, but it once again reveals how wide open — for better or for worse — the 2022 season is with Next Gen jalopy.
Set Bristol to the side and Logano has been a top-3 driver, if not the best driver, at the traditional ovals over the last two months. At Michigan, Logano earned a 0.83 Dietrich Data score (my own comprehensive metric that synthesizes a driver’s complete race — 1.00 is a perfect score). He followed that race with a 1.00 at Richmond, a 0.89 at Darlington and a 0.89 at Kansas. This metric reflects speed and skill. Aside from luck, those are the two factors that most heavily influence winning or not.
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Head 2 Head Matchups
It is rare for DraftKings to offer a significant underdog in a matchup. Buescher won last week, so DraftKings Sportsbook wants to play off of that notoriety. Buescher should not be able to compete in Texas. It is his home track, but the Penske cars are stronger than the RFK cars at the intermediate tracks — Blaney won the Texas All-Star race.
That being said. It’s 2022. Buescher can run a normal race and Blaney can suffer a mechanical failure, tire failure, spin, wreck or run into someone else’s wreck. Anything can happen in 2022. This is simply a bet against Blaney at attractive odds.
Texas is not interesting but it is unique. This is an extreme one-groove track. Setup is critical to success, and for the most part, more important than driver skill. The new Texas (differing banking at opposite ends of the track — 2017 to present) is a challenge for the top teams. Kyle Larson never had much of a shot driving Chip Ganassi equipment at this unconventional intermediate track. That changed after his suspension when he signed with Hendrick Motorsports. In his first race at Texas after the suspension, he won (All-Star Race 2021). In his next race at Texas, he won again and led 256 laps in that fall race. Bell is having a good season, but so is Larson and Texas has become a great track for him now that he is in exceptional equipment.
Kyle Busch +100 over Chase Elliott
In the last seven Texas races, Busch has two wins and six top-10 finishes. In those seven races, Busch has the highest average driver rating. Before the two engine failures and a penalty that set up a spin at Kansas, Busch was a top-5 driver at the traditional ovals dating back to early May.
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