Early odds list Kyle Larson as heavy PointsBet favorite for Michigan

NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Qualifying
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Kyle Larson is the heavy favorite at PointsBet Sportsbook for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Larson swept Victory Lane at Michigan in 2017, which combined with a win the previous season, gave him three consecutive. In his last appearance on this track, he finished third in 2019. Larson opened the week with a line of +300. In 2017, Larson also won on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway, which is designed to be similar to the Michigan track. From summer 2016 through spring 2018, he amassed a six-race streak of finishes third or better at those two tracks.

One way to view American odds is to move the decimal point two positions to the left. That will let a bettor know what they will make on a $1 bet. The return on investment for +300 odds is $3.00. For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a line of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Chase Elliott is ranked a distant second at +800. Elliott began his Michigan career with three consecutive second-place finishes in 2016 and 2017. In his second race on this track that season, Elliott finished eighth, and while he has not yet cracked the top five again, six of his last seven efforts at Michigan ended in results of seventh through ninth.

With a current streak of four Michigan top fives, Martin Truex Jr. is ranked third at +850. In the past two seasons, Truex has three third-place results and a fourth. Since winning his third and most recent race at Darlington Raceway earlier this season, he has only one other top-five on an oval – a third at Atlanta Motor Speedway in that track’s second race.

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch share the fourth-place ranking this week with a line of +900.

This is the first time Harvick has been listed under 10/1 in the last six weeks. The reason for this is simple. If Harvick is going to earn his first victory of 2021, Michigan is the best place to do so. He enters the weekend with three straight victories on this track and four in his last five attempts.

Busch has been practically perfect on 2-mile tracks in regard to recent top fives. Dating back to the beginning of 2018, he’s earned eight top fives and a sixth at Michigan and Auto Club. In 2017, he swept the top 10 on these two tracks.

The remainder of the field is listed at 10/1 or greater.

Denny Hamlin lost the points’ lead to Larson last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course after contact with Chase Briscoe with two laps remaining. Hamlin is ranked sixth this week with odds of +1000. He finished second in two of the last three Michigan races and was sixth in the other event.

Two other drivers of note both finished among the top five in the first race of last year’s Michigan doubleheader before crashing in Race 2.

Brad Keselowski finished second with Ryan Blaney fourth on Saturday. As the two battled for the lead the following day, they crashed on Lap 95 and failed to finish. Keselowski is listed at +1400 this week with Blaney at +1500.

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Dan Beaver handicaps NASCAR races for NBC Sports Edge.

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at goprn.com. …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.