NASCAR Betting Guide: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500

Chase Elliott had a dominant car in the two Charlotte races this year and doesn't carry short odds heading to a similar track in Texas. Who else should we consider betting for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500?

With just two races left before the championship in the NASCAR Cup Series, things are gonna be hot this weekend.

Joey Logano (+850 at FanDuel Sportsbook) has already locked himself in, meaning there are just three spots left to be filled. Kevin Harvick (+260) is likely to get a spot on points, forcing everyone else to scramble behind him. The stakes couldn't be much higher.

As discussed last week, this does influence the way we bet outrights. A non-playoff driver hasn't won in the round of eight since 2017, so while someone no longer in contention could get the checkered flag, the non-outright market may be their best zone.

The good thing is that we know what to expect this weekend. This is the 11th race of the season on a 1.5-mile track and the fifth at a high-banked 1.5-mile track. If drivers were fast at those other spots, they're likely to be fast this weekend.

With all of this in mind, which bets should we make based on the current odds? Let's check it out.

Chase Elliott (+1200)

The top three on the odds board this week -- Harvick, Denny Hamlin (+550), and Joey Logano (+850) -- all have merit. Harvick leads my model, Hamlin has been mowing people down all year, and Logano is coming off a win on another 1.5-mile track. But with Chase Elliott being +1200, it seems like our best value is in this second tier.

Elliott has been crazy fast the entire playoffs. He has had a top-eight average running position in all seven races, and he had a top-five mark in both the races at 1.5-mile tracks.

What makes those 1.5-miler runs more impressive is that that hasn't been Elliott's strength this year. Both those races were at flatter tracks, and Hendrick Motorsports as an organization has been lackluster on those types of spots this year. Texas has higher banking, which should fit right in Elliott's wheelhouse.

Elliott should have won the first Charlotte race if not for questionable pit strategy late, and he did come through in the second race there that same week. Elliott added a sixth-place average running position in Atlanta to boot.

The current form section of my model looks at only 1.5-mile tracks, and it has Elliott right at the top with Harvick. You can justify betting any of the top three, but Elliott is the better route for getting exposure to the favorites.

Martin Truex Jr. (+1200)

The guy ranked third in my model straight up is Martin Truex Jr. He's another guy who seems to benefit when the banking goes up.

In total, Truex has led 269 laps this year on 1.5-mile tracks. But 62.1% of those have come in the four races at the tracks with higher banking. He had a third-place average running in both the first Charlotte race and Atlanta and led at least 65 laps in each. He just hasn't pulled through with a win yet.

Truex has never won in Texas, and he has just four top-fives in 30 career races. It's not a plus track for him. However, he traditionally mops up in Charlotte, and this track type has suited him well this season. It seems as if we should bet on the broader trend rather than the track-specific data and back Truex at a favorable number.

Alex Bowman (+3200)

Among the remaining playoff drivers, Alex Bowman has the longest outright odds yet again. It's understandable for sure. But his performance recently and his speed on tracks like this both show he's a worthy bet at +3200.

Bowman had just one top-10 all season long on 1.5-mile tracks prior to the playoffs. But he has cranked out back-to-back top-fives when it has mattered, and he had a top-seven average running position in both races. The current form is good.

Truthfully, those runs shouldn't be a surprise. Bowman has had speed on this track type all year; he just hadn't converted it into good finishes.

Take Charlotte as an example. He led 164 laps in the first race and 51 in the second. However, he ran into issues both times and finished poorly. An inability to convert on good runs is definitely a concern, but those concerns are more than accounted for at this number.

Bowman's starting fifth, giving him easy access to the front of the field. He has had the speed all year long, and he's finally cashing in with great finishes. Bowman gives you access to semi-long odds without deviating from the playoff field, so he's worth a look if you want to have some fun.

Ryan Blaney to Finish Top Three (+300)

Ryan Blaney (+1300 to win) isn't in the playoffs, which does impact his outright appeal. But he has been too good on tracks like this for the season to completely omit from our betslip.

Blaney, specifically, almost won at this very track earlier in the year. He led 150 laps and had a fifth-place average running position. As has been the case with Blaney most of the season, factors outside of his control kept him out of victory lane, but we know he'll have speed.

The seventh-place finish for Blaney in Texas was actually his worst on this track type in 2020. He was third in both Charlotte races and fourth in Atlanta. His four top-fives at 1.5-mile tracks is tied for third in the sport behind Harvick and Hamlin. Although Blaney hasn't had great finishes in the two playoff races, he did have a fifth-place average running position last week, justifying betting Blaney to sit on the podium at +300.

Chris Buescher to Finish Top 10 (+850)

Chris Buescher (+20000 to win) isn't going to win at a track like this. The speeds are too high for that to happen. But he can absolutely pull off a top 10, making this number seem way too long.

Buescher already has a pair of top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks this year. All other drivers with multiple top-10 runs on this track type are +410 or shorter to crack the top 10 this week, and yet Buescher is more than double that.

Importantly, those top-10s check a couple of boxes. His top-10 run in Charlotte means he can run well when the banking is high, and his top-10 recently in Las Vegas means his form isn't dipping.

With Buescher, you're not going to be able to exhale until the final lap because he's likely to be right on the fringe of the top 10 if he can make things work. But that lack of oxygen can be worth it if you hit on a number this long for a market so relaxed.