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NASCAR Preview: 2021 O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 Picks

Last week Michael McDowell kicked off the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. It was McDowell’s first win of his career which includes over 300 Cup Series starts. This week we head back to Daytona and you might think McDowell would have gained some ground with oddsmakers since race two of the season is once again at Daytona.

There’s the rub for McDowell, this Sunday’s O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 is on the Daytona road course and not the 2.5-mile superspeedway. That puts Chase Elliott as the solid favorite at +175 with Martin Truex Jr trailing at +450.

Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, has won five road course races in a Cup Series car and Truex has won four.

As for McDowell, +8000, he’s not a bad road course racer. Last year he placed 10th on the course. And, in the Xfinity series, McDowell has a road course win. But that’s not good enough to become the favorite this weekend even if you are the 2021 Daytona 500 winner! Here are the top-five favorites at +800 and under according to Intertops.

Chase Elliott +175

Martin Truex Jr +450

Ryan Blaney +600

Kyle Busch +750

AJ Allmendinger +800

Like last week, all three NASCAR manufactures are represented with the top-five favorite drivers listed above. Elliott and AJ Allmendinger are in Chevrolet. Truex and Kyle Busch both drive a Toyota and Ryan Blaney drives a Ford.

2021 O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 Preview

Track: Daytona International Speedway Daytona, Florida

Type: 3.61-mile road course

Race Distance: 70 laps / 252.7 miles

TV/Radio: Fox / MRN

2021 O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 Predictions

Chase Elliott +175

I’ve tried to talk myself out of this pic but can’t. Elliott has proven to be the best road course racer among active Cup Series drivers with five wins under his belt. His well-placed road course checkered flags last season helped propel him to the Cup Series Championship. Elliott, along with Ryan Blaney, was one turn away from winning the 2021 Busch Clash on the same track two weeks ago.

Ryan Blaney +600

Ryan Blaney was leading the Clash two weeks ago coming into the final turn before Chase Elliott bumped him causing both drivers to lose the race. Blaney showed his road-course skills during that race and has not been shabby on them in the past. Other than Elliott and Truex, he’s the only other driver to win on a road course race in the last nine road course races.

Kevin Harvick +1000

Harvick has not been at his best on road courses the last few times he’s raced on that style of course. That was until the Busch Clash two weeks ago where he finished in the fourth spot. It would have been a worse run if Elliott and Blaney had not shuffled things up right at the end but Harvick was in a position to take advantage of their mistake. In the Cup Series, Harvick has two road course wins and 22 top-ten finishes.

Others to Consider: One driver that could be the dark horse is Erik Jones at +5000. Jones has finished 8 th or better in eight of his last ten road course starts. AJ Allmendinger is always towards the top of the favorites list when it comes to road courses. He has one Cup Series and two Xfinity Series road course wins.

2021 O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 Odds

Bet on NASCAR props at BetOnline this weekend.

Chase Elliott +175

Martin Truex Jr +450

Ryan Blaney +600

Kyle Busch +750

AJ Allmendinger +800

Denny Hamlin +900

Kevin Harvick +1000

William Byron +1600

Joey Logano +1800

Alex Bowman +1800

Brad Keselowski +2000

Kurt Busch +2000

Chase Briscoe +3000

Kyle Larson +4000

Matt Dibenedetto +4000

Erik Jones +5000

Christopher Bell +5000

Aric Almirola +6000

Cole Custer +6000

Tyler Reddick +8000

Michael McDowell +8000

Chris Buescher +10000

Ross Chastain +10000

Anthony Alfredo +12500

Ryan Newman +12500

Bubba Wallace +12500

Austin Dillon +12500

Justin Haley +25000

Ricky Stenhouse Jr +25000

James Davison +75000

Ryan Preece +75000

Josh Bilicki +80000

Daniel Suarez +80000

Ty Dillon +100000

Joey Gase +150000

Timmy Hill +200000

Quinn Houff +250000

Corey Lajoie +250000

BJ McLeod +250000

Cody Ware +250000

About the Author

Kent Whitaker is an award-winning author, culinary writer and sports writer. Whitaker's books range from BBQ, Grilling, Tailgating and additional culinary titles to WWII history books, books about NASCAR and racing and titles for kids.

Whitaker, known as “the Deck Chef,” has a culinary, history and journalism background. He credits this for his cookbook writing style. “My books are people based. I interview, gather recipes from real people and sources – and combine the recipes with back-stories. My cookbooks are slices of culinary history.”

Whitaker can also be found on TV, Radio, Print, and as a celebrity spokesperson. He has appeared on radio and TV including Food Network. He’s the Emeril Live Barbecue Contest winner and columnist for the National Barbecue News.

Whitaker has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, ARCA Racing, The NFL, SEC Football, Professional Golf and more. His books include:

·      Great American Grilling – Ultimate Backyard Barbecue and Tailgating

·      The Gulf Coast Seafood Cookbook

·      Smoke in the Mountains - The Art of Appalachian Barbecue

·      Checkered Flag Cooking - Tailgating Stock Car Racing

·      The Hometown Cookbook Series; The Tennessee Hometown Cookbook, as well as Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama, and Florida.

·      The USS Alabama - The History of the Mighty A

·      Talladega Superspeedway

·      Bullets and Bread - Feeding the Greats and Grunts of WWII

·      Big Mo's Tennis Ball Hunt

·       Why Are the Mountains Smokey?

Kent has worked with several brands as spokesperson. Companies include Check Mark, ALPO, TimberTech, Vermont Castings, Pabst Blue Ribbon, E.H. Campbell Trading, Big Show Foods, and others. Whitaker, and his wife Allyson, hosted a NASCAR and racing themed show on ESPN Radio for several years. That show has morphed into a weekly short format tailgate show heard on over 50 affiliates nationwide.

Kent is also a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and severed on the National Staff as an AUXCHEF/AUX Food Service Specialist and National Branch Chief.

Kent and his wife Allyson live in Tennessee and have one ARMY Strong son, Macee. You can visit him online at www.thedeckchef.com and Twitter/Instagram @thekentwhitaker.