NASCAR Cup Series Cash or Pass picks are for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.
With the 2020 season coming down to its final three races, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the middle race in the Round of 8. The playoff contenders will have a chance to join Joey Logano, the Kansas winner from last week, in locking a spot in the championship race with a win.
The fast 1.5-miler has provided some playoff fireworks in recent years. Last season, Kevin Harvick claimed a spot in the Championship 4 with a win at Texas, and he’ll be looking to do the same this year, with what could be his tenth win of the season. Looking at the race from an odds standpoint, here are the drivers who should be good bets to win and, and the ones to stay away from as NASCAR Cup Series cash in or pass on fantasy picks.
Brad Keselowski (+1400)
For a playoff driver, Keselowski provides tremendous value at +1400, as he sits sixth out of the eight contenders in terms of odds (ahead of just Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch). Looking at last season alone, bettors would likely stay away from the Team Penske driver, as he finished 36th and 39th in his two starts at the track. Those results likely also brought his odds down slightly.
Admittedly, his 17.4 average finish in his last ten starts at the track aren’t great, but with a spot in the championship on the line, Keselowski will likely be very aggressive. Another factor to consider: Austin Dillon won the spring Texas race by staying out on old tires and holding everyone off.
Keselowski is almost always the last car to pit on a long green-flag run. He may be able to use the same strategy that Dillon used earlier this season and visit victory lane.
Kurt Busch (+2000)
Look, Busch is a longshot to make the championship race. Heck, it’s surprising he got this far. However, Texas has traditionally been a very strong track for the veteran, as he’s recorded seven straight top-tens (nine in his last ten starts at the track). The Chip Ganassi driver is also in a situation where he has to win at either Texas or Martinsville to advance to the championship race.
Given Busch’s typical struggles at Martinsville (though they haven’t been as pronounced recently), he’ll likely be going all-out for a victory at Texas. He’s going to be one to keep an eye on, and at +2000, he provides great value.
Aric Almirola (+2800)
Every year, it seems like there’s a driver who finds himself in a position to win late in the playoffs despite not still being in contention. Last year at Texas, Almirola was that driver, as he led for a large portion of the race before eventually finishing second to teammate Kevin Harvick.
Almirola was recently eliminated in the Round of 12, but has four straight top-tens at the track and could be a bit of a sleeper in a field full of hungry drivers.
Denny Hamlin (+500)
For whatever reason, Hamlin has a very difficult time at Texas. He did win here in the spring of 2019, but in nine other races at the track since 2015, he’s recorded just two top-ten finishes, and six finishes of 25th or worse.
Even with as well as Hamlin has run this year, his trends at the track don’t appear to be promising toward his chances this weekend, and him having the second-best odds on the track doesn’t help either.
Chase Elliott (+1000)
Talking about Hamlin’s recent trends, Elliott’s should probably come up as well. Though he hasn’t necessarily been bad at Texas, he hasn’t finished better than sixth at the track in the past four years and has three straight finishes of 12th or worse.
This feels more like a ‘manage the points situation and keep yourself in a position to advance’ race for Elliott than a ‘let’s get up front, lead a bunch of laps, and dominate’ race.’ Would it be shocking if he was able to maintain an early track position and finish near the front? No. But it would be surprising if he won? Mildly.
Erik Jones (+1800)
Betting on Jones is going to be extremely tempting, especially as he’s finished in the top-ten in six straight starts at Texas. That being said, Jones hasn’t shown great speed at 1.5-mile tracks this season.
He also has his 2021 ride officially lined up now, as he announced he’ll be moving to the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 ride next year, meaning he isn’t ‘racing for a job’ anymore. This may not be a huge factor, but it could lead to less aggressiveness, and ultimately a mediocre finish.
Tyler Reddick (+3300)
While Austin Dillon took the spotlight in the spring by pulling off a shocking upset and winning at Texas, Reddick wasn’t too shabby himself. As Dillon’s teammate, the rookie completed a one-two finish for RCR and very nearly grabbed the win for himself.
Obviously picking a guy like Reddick is a huge longshot, but with +3300 odds, it’s hard to say that it’s not worth a low-risk bet.
Jimmie Johnson (+4000)
If you want to throw one last bet out on Jimmie Johnson, this would be the race to do it. It’s going to be extremely difficult for a non-playoff driver to win at either Martinsville or Phoenix, and Johnson has performed well at Texas over the years, including wins in 2015 and 2017.
His performance has dropped off recently, with just one top-ten in his last six starts, but surely the No. 48 will receive his share of bettors backing him.