On Sunday the Cup Series makes its first visit of the season to Kansas Speedway. This is the second race of on a 1.5-mile tri-oval track. The number of races at this track type has fallen over the past few years. However 1.5-mile tri-ovals remain the most common track type on the Cup Series schedule. This year the Cup Series will run six races at the four 1.5-mile tri-ovals of Las Vegas (2), Kansas (2), Charlotte (1), and Texas (1). Last year the Cup Series also ran six races on this track type. This means we have quite a bit of data on the Gen 7 car that we can use to project this race. So lets get right into it.
Bet on Team Trackhouse
I’m high on Trackhouse this week. How to bet on Chastain and Suarez will vary by what books you have available to you though.
The best value comes courtesy of BetFred, where you can bet Trackhouse as the winning team at +1200. Had I waited for BetFred to post the team odds this is the bet I would have taken for a full unit.
If you don’t have access to BetFred there is still value on the Trackhouse boys. Chastain at +1400 at the Kambi books and DraftKings is reasonable. If you happen to have access to HardRock Suarez at +4000 is also good. I have .72 on Ross at +1500 (which is/was available at BetFred, though since if you have access to BetFred I would prefer the Trackhouse +1200) and .28 on Suarez at +4000. I wouldn’t bet Chastain under +1400 or Suarez under +4000 though.
Now let’s look at why I’m high on these two.
Yesterday I published my charts showing how each driver has performed in the Gen 7 car in the seven races across the four 1.5-mile tri-oval tracks. The two most important categories to me are percentage of laps led and percentage of fastest laps. If we look at the percentage of laps led (focusing only on those laps a driver completed) Ross is fourth (7.05%) in fastest laps. He is third (16.25%) in laps led.
If we take out Texas, the track that has the lowest correlation with Kansas Ross gets even stronger. Looking at just the three races at Las Vegas, the two at Kansas, and one race at Charlotte Ross becomes the leader with 8.1% of his laps being the fastest lap run. He also moves up a spot to second (19.64%) in laps led.
Looking at my incident adjusted speed metric Chastain has also been very strong at the 1.5-mile tri-ovals. His worst incident adjusted speed was 11th at the second Kansas race last year. He has also had an average running position under 10 at every race, with the exception of Texas, where his average running position was 10.1.
If we look at the drivers who surround Ross in all of these statistics his odds are an outlier. In percentage of laps led at Kansas, Vegas, and Charlotte Larson is slightly ahead of him. Although Ross has a lead in absolute number of laps led due to incidents reducing the number of laps Larson has run. The drivers immediately behind him are Byron, Elliott, Bell, and Reddick. Elliott is priced at +1000-1100 depending on the book. The other four are all priced well under +1000. This makes Ross at +1400-1500 stick out.
The reason to have concerns
The biggest issue I foresee with Ross is him having pissed off so many drivers. His aggressive driving also has the potential to piss off more drivers on Sunday. If he hadn’t turned Poole into Larson last Sunday at Dover there is a real shot that Ross wins that race. But with his car junked by Ross, when the final laps started ticking down Larson aggressively blocked Ross while he was chasing down Truex, giving Truex space to pull away. It was space that Ross could never get back.
Going back to the charts from yesterday, we can see that Suarez has been quietly recording solid performances at the 1.5-mile tri-ovals. Suarez is eighth in percentage of fastest laps run at 5.92%. He is ninth in percentage of laps led at 3.91%.
As with Chastain, if we eliminate Texas from the data set the numbers for Suarez only get better. In fastest laps run Suarez jumps to fifth at 7.25%. In laps led he moves up to eighth at 4.76%. The drivers on either side of him in percentage of laps led are Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney. Again as with Chastain, the odds on these drivers are priced significantly shorter than Suarez.
The reason to have concerns
The biggest potential concern for Suarez is that his percentage of laps led is lower than his percentage of fastest laps. This is rare among the other contenders. It means he is running fast laps, but they are either due to off cycle pit stops or because he has space while running further back. Nevertheless, Suarez has shown he can lead and can put down fast laps, so he is a legitimate threat to win.
In 2022 Trackhouse had a breakout year. Although neither Chastain or Suarez won on an intermediate track, both put up consistently strong performances. Trackhouse has come out strong again to start 2023. The books haven’t adjusted, either because they are expecting a back slide or because the public isn’t putting action on the #1 or #99 team. Either way, this means there is value to be had on Chastain and Suarez.