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NASCAR at COTA betting preview: Chase Elliott is the obvious favorite heading into the inaugural race

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EchoPark Texas Grand Prix

2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Welcome to NASCAR's first race weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.

All three of NASCAR's top series are racing at the 3.41-mile road course for the first time this weekend. The Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series race on Saturday, while the Cup Series hits the track on Sunday. 

The Austin track has hosted Formula 1 races since 2012 but had never hosted a NASCAR race because of a provision that was in Texas Motor Speedway's contract that prevented NASCAR races from being run nearby. That provision is gone, and now COTA is hosting one of six road course races on the Cup Series schedule in 2021.

The new race doesn't mean a new favorite, however. Defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is the overwhelming favorite at +225. Elliott has scored five of his 11 career Cup Series wins on road courses and had won four consecutive road course races before Christopher Bell won at Daytona in the second weekend of the 2021 season.

Unlike most races this season, you may want to wait until right before the race on Sunday before you bet it. Sunday's Cup Series race is the first since the Daytona 500 with practice and qualifying. You'll get a good idea on Saturday of who has speed around the rolling road course and qualifying at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday will set the starting lineup for the race.

Without further ado, here's what you need to know to bet the race. As always, our odds are provided by BetMGM.

The favorites

Chase Elliott, +225

Martin Truex Jr., +450

Denny Hamlin, +800

Ryan Blaney, +1000

Kyle Larson, +1000

You're not going to get much value betting Elliott. While it's not a surprise at all that he's the favorite, it is slightly surprising that his odds are half of Truex's. Both Hamlin and Elliott are looking for their first wins of the season. Larson is looking for his first road course win and Blaney's only win came at the Charlotte Roval in 2018 after Truex and Jimmie Johnson crashed in the final chicane. 

Good mid-tier value

Brad Keselowski, +1800

Christopher Bell, +2000

Bell feels like a must-bet if you're going to be putting money down on multiple drivers. It's not too often you can find the most recent road course winner at +2000, especially at a track where no one has raced. Keselowski has four top fives and six top 10s in 10 starts at Watkins Glen and is one of the top drivers in the Cup Series. You don't find him with odds this high that often. 

Don’t bet this driver

Matt DiBenedetto, +6600

DiBenedetto has two top-10 finishes in 15 starts at the four road courses that have already been on the Cup Series schedule (Charlotte, Daytona, Sonoma, Watkins Glen). There's nothing in his Cup Series road course history that suggests he'll be contending for the win. 

Looking for a long shot?

Chase Briscoe, +12500

You can do far worse than betting Briscoe this weekend. There are signs that Stewart-Haas Racing is finding speed outside of Kevin Harvick's team. And Briscoe has been very good on road courses in his Xfinity Series career. He scored wins at both Indianapolis and Charlotte in 2020. 

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