NASCAR Odds, Expert Picks, Predictions for Chicago: Back This Longshot Road Course Ace (Sunday, July 2)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Cindric
The NASCAR Cup Series runs its first-ever street course race on the streets of downtown Chicago on Sunday.
With no drivers ever having turned a lap on this course until practice on Saturday, practice is going to be our biggest reference point when evaluating drivers heading into today's NASCAR race, the Grant Park 220 (5 p.m. ET, NBC).
Several drivers stood out in practice, but by digging a bit deeper, we can find some hidden value down the board.
Add in each driver's road course history, and I'm surprised we can find one extremely undervalued road course ace out there for the Chicago street race.
NASCAR Odds, Picks for Chicago Street Race
There were several incidents in the practice session that hampered the ability of a few drivers to turn some laps. One such driver was Team Penske's Austin Cindric.
The second-year driver hit the wall on his 12th practice lap, but after rewatching practice, I noticed something important.
Cindric was quick to get up to speed, landing inside the top 10 after a handful of laps before pulling the car in for some adjustments.
All of Cindric's laps after that were compromised, either by pitting, out laps, or as up-to-speed laps until he hit the wall.
However, if we use a FLAGS-style metric for each driver's first six practice laps, Cindric was easily inside the top 10. In fact, looking at the six drivers from Caesars Sportsbook's Group C, Cindric was actually the second-quickest in the FLAGS metric on that first stint.
Here's the full group with odds and first stint FLAGS rank from laps 4-6 in parenthesis (with outlying laps removed):
- Christopher Bell +210 (4)
- Daniel Suarez +210 (20)
- Michael McDowell +400 (13)
- Chris Buescher +550 (31)
- Joey Logano +550 (24)
- Austin Cindric +1200 (7)
It's clear watching practice back, Cindric got up to speed early. Unfortunately for him, his practice session ended early. Therefore, comparing Cindric's fastest lap time to everyone else's is an exercise in futility because almost every single driver got quicker as the session went on.
Cindric never had the opportunity to post quicker practice times, and thus, they're looking much worse than he was.
We also know Cindric is a road course ace, with several top-10 finishes and even leading a handful of laps on merit at road courses in his Cup career.
With 220 miles, plus the potential for chaos, I think we need to back the 12-1 longshot who has a road course background, and who got up to speed as quickly, or quicker than everyone else in his group.
My model has fair value on Cindric at +950 thanks to his poor qualifying effort, so with some wiggle room for error, I'm fine backing Cindric down to 10-1.
The Bet: Austin Cindric to Win Group C +1200 | Bet to: +1000