New Track at Texas Should Impact NASCAR O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Martin Green

Thursday, April 6, 2017 3:48 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017 3:48 PM UTC

The NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Fort Worth for Sunday's O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, and the big story is not the drivers but the Texas Motor Speedway track. SBR's handicapper has two racers in particular he likes on the new surface.

Fort Worth's Texas Motor Speedway was old and creaking and rain delayed action every year, so the owners took the decision to repave it. That is expected to totally alter the racing and it is made all the more extreme because not only did Texas Motor Speedway repave its track, it also reconfigured it.

Officials decided it represented the perfect opportunity to reduce the banking to make the cars slow down a little, so banking has been decreased in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 degrees to 20. The banking on Turns 3 and 4 remains the same, so the racing surface is now uneven. It is also wider in the opening turns, having been extended from 60 feet to 80 feet.

To confuse matters even further, no testing has been done on this newly-paved track. Normally after a repave, tire supplier Goodyear goes in and runs tests on the new surface to check the tire compound and help reduce tire wear when the race gets underway. But there was not time for it to do that at Texas Motor Speedway.

So the drivers are racing on an unknown, untested track, and really that means all the drivers’ stats can pretty much be thrown out the window. It might be worthwhile then to apply caution when betting on this race, as it is difficult to predict the outcome given the lack of historical data on offer. In short, you might want to think about keeping your stakes relatively low.

The lines are out and it is looking extremely close. Bet365 has Kevin Harvick as the +600 favorite, followed by Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson at +700, then Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr all at +750. Harvick is the outright favorite at +600 to win the NASCAR Cup, so it makes sense that he is favorite for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, but there is little value at those odds.

Instead, the best options look to be either Busch or Keselowski. Busch is the defending champion of this race, a two-time winner here, and he has secured five straight Top-5 finishes at this track. He is in great shape right now and has finished no lower than eighth in his last three races. He was second last week and has the momentum to go one better here. He has said he hates repaves and his tone was skeptical when discussing this race with the media, but his pedigree here is beyond doubt and he is highly likely to be in the mix this coming weekend. You can go each-way at a sportsbook like Bet365 and get paid a quarter of the odds if he finishes in the top four, and that looks interesting at +700 as you would cover yourself and still make a profit if he finishes second, third or fourth.

The same is true of Keselowski, who has been on fire this year. He consistently has one of the fastest cars in the field each week under Team Penske, and there is no reason why that will not be the case in Fort Worth. Keselowski won in Atlanta and Martinsville and has already secured Top-5 finishes at California, Phoenix and Las Vegas. The new track at Texas is most similar to Kentucky, and Keselowski was dominant in Kentucky in 2016. He qualified in second and led for 75 laps on his way to winning it, so that should stand him in good stead to win this one -- or at least finish in the Top 4.

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