As our NASCAR picks predicted, Toyota dominated in the Poconos, and the Cook Out 400 odds see more Ws ahead for their cars, with Martin Truex Jr. listed as the favorite at Richmond Raceway.
Truex still leads the NASCAR Cup Series odds, and has been heating up this summer, posting six Top-5 finishes (including two wins) in the past eight races.
He's won at Richmond Raceway three times since 2019 — can he make it four? Find out with our Cook Out 400 odds and betting picks for this afternoon's NASCAR race.
Odds to win 2023 Cook Out 400
|Martin Truex Jr.||+450|
Odds courtesy as of July 25, 2023.
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Cook Out 400 field
Truex is on one of the NASCAR's season's bigger heaters. Despite eyesore results in Chicago (32nd) and Atlanta (29th), he's bagged Top-5 finishes in six of eight races, with five of those in the Top 3, and two of them wins.
He has three victories at Richmond since 2019, and his worst finish there over that span is 11th. In terms of both current form and track performance, he's a worthy favorite.
Nipping at his heels is two-time Richmond winner Kyle Larson, who took first in this year's spring Virginia stop. Like Truex, with the exception of a couple outliers, Larson's been a Top-5 magnet this summer, but looking for his first victory since April.
Whoever wins this race, the sportsbooks are predicting a tight fight at the front. DraftKings is pricing a buffet of seven drivers at +900 or lower. The odds distribution from there is fairly linear and not very clustered, with a quartet of drivers closing the board at super-longshot odds of +100,000.
This isn't shaping up to be one of those "it's anyone's race" situations.
Cook Out 400 picks and predictions
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Cook Out 400 favorites
Martin Truex Jr. (+450)
He has to be one of the favorites, right? That’s why he dropped from +1,100 this spring to where he is now. That’s okay though. Truex has eight Top-5 finishes at Richmond in his last 10 tries including four Top-2’s in his last eight.
He was fourth in the 2022 spring race after leading 80 laps and scoring a stage win while being seventh last summer. He had the race essentially won this spring but a late race caution flew, ending any shot of doing so. That's because he had no tires left to change, which dropped him from first to 11th in the end. Truex did end up being third in Martinsville and won Dover and Loudon. He has six Top-5 finishes in the last eight weeks, too.
Kyle Larson (+550)
He has just two combined Top-5 finishes in his last nine Richmond starts. Both were in the last two spring races which includes a fifth-place run in 2022 and a win after leading 93 laps this year. He led a ton of laps in Phoenix, and also won at Martinsville to give him short-track finishes of fourth (Phoenix), first (Richmond), first (Martinsville), 32nd (Dover), and third (Loudon) respectively. He’s accumulated the second-most points scored on short tracks this season, too.
Denny Hamlin (+600)
He was runner-up in both races in 2021, including leading 207 laps in the spring and 197 more circuits in the fall. Hamlin won the 2022 spring race and fourth in the summer to tally 11 Top-6 finishes in his last 14 Richmond starts. The only reason that it's not 12-for-14 is the fact that he had troubles on pit lane this spring. Hamlin won the second stage and led 71 laps, but that final penalty was a dagger. He was fourth in Martinsville, fifth at Dover, and seventh in Loudon for his last three finishes on 1-mile-or-shorter tracks. He enters coming off of a win in Pocono too.
Cook Out 400 sleepers
Chase Briscoe (+10,000)
Not much past stats to go off of, but he won Phoenix last year and was fourth there last November, and seventh this spring. SHR seems to be at their best on short tracks this season, with Briscoe being seventh (Phoenix), 12th (Richmond), fifth (Martinsville), 30th (Dover), and 10th at Loudon respectively. NASCAR has Briscoe ranked third (114 points) for most points accumulated on short tracks this season, too.
Ryan Preece (+10,000)
Won the pole at Martinsville, was 12th in Phoenix, 18th here, 17th in Dover, and the only reason he didn't finish better than 15th in Martinsville was an issue on pit road that cost him track position.
Cook Out 400 fades
Kyle Busch (+800)
He had nine straight Top-9 results including a top two in nearly half of his last 14 Richmond starts before this spring race. Then came a struggle in 14th. In fact, Busch calls short tracks his team’s weakness right now, so I'd fade him. He has one Top-5 finish in his last nine Richmond starts.
William Byron (+900)
He used strategy and strategy only to lead 122 laps in his only Top-5 in 10 Richmond starts last spring. Again, he didn’t have a Top-5 car that day in terms of speed and chances to win.
This past spring, he did. He led a race-high 117 laps, finishing first and third in the two stages before being spun by Christopher Bell on a late-race restart. Prior to the late caution, he was going to finish second. After, he was going to win. Then came Bell's bumper...Byron won Phoenix and was fourth in Dover.
My only concern is he has one Top-5 finish over the last seven weeks, which is also why he dropped from +400 this spring to +900 now. He’s also only had one Top-5 finish in 12 Richmond starts and that’s including his pair of Xfinity Series starts. He’s led 117 or more laps in each of the last two spring races but has never led a lap here in the return trip.
Chase Elliott (+1,600)
If you need some fades up top, there are two HMS drivers to punt on. Elliott didn't race this spring, but his car finished second. That's part of the luck of pit strategy to get Josh Berry there. Elliott has finished only 10th, 11th, and 12th on short tracks this season and Richmond isn't one of his better tracks.
Cook Out 400 prop pick
Kevin Harvick Top-5 finish
I like this one a lot, with two straight fourth-place finishes on the season and coming to a track where he not only won last year, but was second and fifth in the last two spring races. Getting this for + money is very attractive.
Harvick has nine Top-8 finishes in his last 10 Richmond tries to go along with 20 straight Top-10 finishes on a like track at Phoenix, as well. He should have won Phoenix this past spring; he was leading inside of 10 to go, but a late caution and a final round of pit stops derailed him down to fifth.
Pick: Kevin Harvick Top-5 finish (+115 at DraftKings)
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Richmond Raceway track analysis
This will be the 134th race in the history of NASCAR and the Cup Series at Richmond, but once again this year, both races will take place under daytime conditions again instead of at night. By doing so, it creates a slicker track under the sunny skies than it does at night.
The spring race was Joe Gibbs Racing vs. Hendrick Motorsports, with late-race cautions helping HMS reach victory lane. I expect a similar instance this time around as the same drivers were favorites in both races last year, so why not this time around too?
The Toyotas are the heavy favorites, with them sweeping the action at Richmond in 2018 and 2019 to go along with nine trips to victory lane in the last 16 starts on the .75-mile D-Shaped Virginia oval, including the spring 2022. JGR went 1-2-3-4 across the finish line in Sept. 2019 as their top feat. They had some of the fastest race cars here this past April too, but bad luck took them out of contention via Denny Hamlin’s pit road woes and Martin Truex Jr. not having a set of tires left for the final pit stops. Those two drivers have won the last two races on the season and two of the last four races on this very track.
In regards to the Ford camp, they’ve struggled to lead laps on short tracks this season. They led 37 of 317 laps in Phoenix this spring, just one lap here (out of 400) this past April, eight of 400 in Dover, and 16 of 301 in Loudon.
It’s also a track that doesn’t lend a helping hand to sleeper values. That’s because Richmond doesn’t typically allow for smaller teams to prevail. Just look at the recent winners. Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas Racing have won each of the last 10 including 14 of the last 15 overall.
Richmond has also been a championship precursor lately. Three of the four Championship 4 drivers were in the Top 6 last Fall. All four of them were in the Top 6 in the 2021 Fall race, and half were in the Top five in the 2021 spring race. In 2020, three of the four were in the Top 5 in the Fall race (only race of 2020 at Richmond). For 2019, they went 1-2-3-7 in the fall race and 1-4-5-8 in the spring. In 2018, they went 1-2-3-14 in the Fall race and 1-4-5-14 in the spring. This past spring, the Championship 4 from last year went 3-4-7. Chase Elliott missed the race, but his car went P2.
Cook Out 400 trends
- Strategy is key here and Denny Hamlin scored no stage points in his 2022 spring race win while Kevin Harvick had no points in Stage 1 and was fourth in the second stage of this race last year. Since 2018, someone has swept both stages here but didn’t win three times.