Denny Hamlin, coming off a win last Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, continues to dominate the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs entering the Round of 12.
With Hamlin adopting a protagonist persona, industry insiders are beginning to see a lane for him to finally capture the elusive circuit title.
After entering Victory Lane last Sunday, Hamlin was greeted with jeers from the spectators.
“Everybody likes a winner, right?” Hamlin joked after climbing out of his No. 11 Toyota, egging on the crowd. “Hey, I beat your favorite driver … All of them.”
In three playoff outings, Hamlin led 177 laps at Darlington Raceway, 63 at Kansas Speedway and 142 at Bristol.
In the playoff standings, Hamlin, with 3032 points, ranks third, four points behind co-leaders William Byron and Martin Truex Jr.
Below, we’ll preview the top storylines heading into Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, go over the odds, and give our best bets for the 30th race on the NASCAR calendar.
DraftKings Sportsbook on Tuesday favored Hamlin and Kyle Larson at +450 to win Sunday.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2023
2023 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Storylines
- Michael McDowell, who struggled at Darlington and Kansas, was among the four eliminated from playoff contention after a P6 at Bristol. “Those first two races just killed us,” he said. Still, winning a race and qualifying for the Round of 16 proved successful for Front Row Motorsports as the series ventures to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, the Round of 12 opener.
- Ty Gibbs looks like a future Cup contender. The all-but-certain rookie of the year earned a P5 at Bristol. “I just need a bit more experience,” he said. One of the things that will make Gibbs a champion is he realizes what he needs to do to get better.
- Kevin Harvick and Joey Lagano. Two frustrated past Cup Series champions who failed to qualify for the Round of 12. It will be interesting to see how the two veterans race the rest of the postseason.
🗣️ “That’s really about how we ran all year, right? Barely made the playoffs.”@KevinHarvick was understandably frustrated following an uncharacteristic Bristol race that saw him finish 29th, 5 laps down, and eliminated from the #NASCARPlayoffs.
💭 “We never had a chance.” pic.twitter.com/kWPTv6Kf8l
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) September 17, 2023
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Driver Odds
Here is an early look at the drivers’ odds for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 At Texas Motor Speedway, according to DraftKings Sportsbook:
|Driver||NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Odds||Play|
|Kyle Larson (Round of 12)||+450|
|Denny Hamlin (Round of 12)||+450|
|William Byron (Round of 12)||+700|
|Tyler Reddick (Round of 12)||+800|
|Martin Truex Jr. (Round of 12)||+800|
|Christopher Bell (Round of 12)||+1100|
|Ryan Blaney (Round of 12)||+1200|
|Kyle Busch (Round of 12)||+1200|
|Brad Keselowski (Round of 12)||+1400|
|Chris Buescher (Round of 12)||+1500|
|Bubba Wallace (Round of 12)||+1800|
|Ross Chastain (Round of 12)||+2200|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||+15000|
*Odds current at time of publication
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Predictions and Picks
Here are our best NASCAR bets for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway:
Kyle Larson (+450)
After starting last at Bristol, Larson rallied and earned a runner-up finish. With three consecutive top-four finishes, including a win, is there a hotter playoff driver?
Denny Hamlin (+450)
With six top-three finishes, including two wins and three P2s, Hamlin told NBC Sports his No. 11 Toyota team has “got it all put together.” Is this the season Hamlin claims his first Cup title?
Martin Truex Jr. (+800)
The 2017 Cup titleholder will be racing for Sherry Pollex, his former longtime girlfriend who died Sunday after a nine-year cancer fight.
The NASCAR family mourns the loss of Sherry Pollex, who fought tirelessly with her philanthropic efforts to combat cancer.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2023