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NASCAR at COTA 2021: Odds, TV Schedule, Live Stream and Drivers

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2021

Kyle Busch drives his car past the viewing tower during practice for Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The NASCAR Cup Series will make its debut at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.

The 3.4-mile course has been used by the IndyCar Series and Formula 1, but most of the NASCAR competitors have no experience there.

Sunday's trip to Texas is one of a few unique challenges added to the 2021 schedule. The Cup Series already competed on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Because of the unfamiliarity with the COTA track, the Cup Series drivers will compete for starting spots in a qualifying session Sunday morning.

For most of the season, the starting lineups have been set by a formula that takes into account the past week's results and the points standings. This was put into effect to shorten the time at the track because of COVID-19 protocols.

Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. are the two favorites to win the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix because of their road course prowess. Every other driver is listed at +1000 or above to take the checkered flag first.

                    

EchoPark Grand Prix Information

Date: Sunday, May 23

Start Time: 2:30 p.m. ET 

TV: FS1

Live Stream: FoxSports.com and Fox Sports app

                   

Odds

Chase Elliott: +250 (bet $100 to win $250) 

Martin Truex Jr.: +450

Denny Hamlin: +1000

Kyle Busch: +1200

Kyle Larson: +1400

Ryan Blaney: +1600

Kevin Harvick: +1600

William Byron: +1800

Joey Logano: +1800

Christopher Bell: +2000

Alex Bowman: +2000

Brad Keselowski: +2000

Via DraftKings Sportsbook.

                 

Preview

The easiest way to gauge which drivers will be successful at COTA is looking at past results on the other NASCAR road courses.

Elliott has become a road course ace with two victories in the past two seasons at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and a 2020 triumph on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

Truex, who leads the Cup Series in wins with three, turned in top-10 finishes on the Daytona and Charlotte road courses in 2019 and finished 12th on Daytona's road course this season.

But even the most experienced road course drivers could have trouble navigating COTA because it is the first series trip to the course.

Denny Hamlin's crew chief, Chris Gabehart, outlined how difficult it will be for teams on Sunday, per NASCAR.com's Zack Albert"Gosh, the unknowns. There's just so many things that you've got to keep track of at this track, and none of us have been there to do it, so we're just guessing at some of them, at that."

In addition to dealing with the unknowns, the drivers and teams may have to deal with inclement weather. According to the AccuWeather forecast, there is a 61 percent chance of rain Sunday.

With all of the variables in play, there is a chance that an unlikely driver takes first, especially if that driver qualifies well. The Cup Series drivers have one practice session Saturday before Sunday morning's qualifying.

A somewhat similar situation played out at the Daytona road course in February, when Christopher Bell won as a long shot over Joey Logano and Hamlin.

At +2000, Bell is worth a look as an outright winner because he should come into Sunday's race with some confidence on a road course.

Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric, who is driving on a part-time basis in the Cup Series, could turn in a surprise victory at +2200. Cindric won at Road America and the Daytona road course on the Xfinity Series circuit in 2020 and took second at Daytona in February.

                    

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from NASCAR.com.

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