Texas Grand Prix Dark Horses

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With an extremely low line for the outright win, Chase Elliott (+235) skews the odds below him.

Martin Truex Jr. at +450 also lands well below the mark we typically think of as a good Return on Investment (ROI) for a winner in NASCAR. After all, anything can happen and on a new road course that is more than three miles long and made up of more than 20 turns, you should expect some long caution periods.

With that many corners, a late-race yellow will put everything into question as there will be ample opportunities to pass. There are just as many opportunities to make a mistake and that means solid road course racers have a chance to move up the order. There will also be a few big surprises.

If Elliott and/or Truex falters, that opens two to three spots in the top-three odds, which is where we are going to focus this week.

Last week we went all in on Alex Bowman after getting advice from NBC Sports analyst Steve Letarte. We’re glad we did as an early bet at +2200 went a long way toward replenishing the season’s kitty. This week’s enthusiastic pick is AJ Allmendinger at +2500 for the outright win. And for the record, he was at the top of both notecards this week.

With odds to win of 25/1, Allmendinger is worthy of an outright bet and he should be covered all the way down. His top-three odds at PointsBet Sportsbook are +700, top-five odds are +350, and he will even provide a return on top-10 at +125. In Group B, he is listed at +300 if he can beat Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, and Bowman. If he is the top Chevrolet driver, that is worth +1000.

Add all this together and a hypothetical $1 bet across all lines would net a return of $43.75. In a season with 10 unique winners – including Bell on the Daytona road course – there have been stranger outcomes. Allmendinger’s only Cup win to date came with JTG-Daugherty Racing at Watkins Glen in 2014.

Likewise, Austin Cindric deserves a lateral bet. At +2200 to win, +600 for a top-three, and +275 for a top-five, he has the talent and equipment to fill your coffer. He is basically even money for a top-10 at +105, so he can be skipped there and his Group matchup is a tough one because he is against William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Michael McDowell, but he deserves some significant juice.


McDowell’s outright odds of +7000 drag his other odds to a desirable level as well. He is certainly risky for the win and even a top-three (+1600), but a unit or two for a top-five at +750 or top-10 at +200 is worthwhile. McDowell has regularly been one of the top road specialists because he cut his teeth in the Trans Am series. He finished eighth in the O’Reilly 253 and was 10th on the Daytona road course last year.

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For more conventional longshots, we’re going to offer up Joey Logano and Busch.

Logano is not necessarily the first name that comes to mind on road courses, but he should be more-highly valued than +2000. That drags his top-three odds to +500 and he is listed at +235 for a top-five. He’s finished in the runner-up position in the last two road course events.

The elder Busch has fourth-place finishes in his last two road course races. In this week’s Best Bets column, we restated a betting strategy that relies on his winning once this year and at +3300 this is a good week to put him on the roster. But he’s a much better value for a +375 return to finish in the top five. While he has only one road course victory, he always seems to be hanging around the leaders.

At +250 for a top-five, it’s worth placing a modest bet on Bell. We don’t yet know if his victory in Week 2 of this season is predictive of his strength or if he’s more likely to finish 20-something like he did last year, but in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, he’s better than a coin toss.

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