The offshore markets are asleep at the wheel, pardon the pun, when it comes to putting up odds for this weekend’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America in Elkhart Lane, Wisconsin. The Truck Series and the Xfinity Series are both in action this week, but the Cup Series is not, as the drivers enjoy a weekend off before the last couple races of the playoff push.
This is the third road course event in four weeks and the first two were won by Austin Cindric. We’ll see if he can keep the magic going at Road America.
Odds from the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and below the comment box for mobile viewers.
Doing a 180
Well, actually, a 182.16. That is the official distance of this run at Road America. The asphalt road course has 14 turns and is one of the longest circuits in all of motor sports at 4.048 miles in length. There are still three stages for this race, but the first two stages are only 10 laps. Of course, only 10 laps means over 40 miles on this track.
Formerly sponsored by Johnsonville and Sargento, this race is not about food at all anymore with the CTECH Manufacturing sponsorship.
This is a relatively new race to the circuit, with the inaugural race won by Carl Edwards back in 2010. Road course ringers are generally present and there are a lot of lesser-known drivers in this race since it tends to coincide with a week off for the Cup Series or they are somewhere else in the country.
Tyler Reddick has rattled off six straight top-five finishes, including last week’s win at Bristol that widened his lead in the standings. He now has four wins and leads by 54 points over Christopher Bell. Bell was 14th last week in Thunder Valley and third-place Cole Custer finished 22nd and is almost 140 points off of the lead.
The 14th-place finish for Bell snapped a string of six finishes of third or better. Custer has four straight results outside of the top 10, which is definitely new territory for him after winning five races earlier in the season. Justin Allgaier is 20 points behind Custer for third, but Allgaier has yet to win a race and hasn’t even won a stage since the lone stop at Pocono.
Credit to Cindric, who won both road course races and then finished a solid fifth last week at Bristol, including the fastest qualifying time. He’s really developing a lot of confidence as second-year points driver in the Xfinity Series.
There are three races left in the regular season and the playoff race is basically decided. Barring a weird outcome, like a Jeremy Clements repeat of 2017 when he won here at Road America, the final 12 are set. Somebody outside the top 12 would need to pick up a win. Clements easily has the best chance of anybody. He was actually fourth last week at Bristol. Gray Gaulding, who is 13th in points, was sixth.
Continuing a Trend?
There have been nine installments of this race and nine different winners. Edwards, Reed Sorenson, Nelson Piquet Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Brendan Gaughan, Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Clements, and Allgaier are the nine winners. This race has needed overtime finishes four times, but has not required extra laps over the last two years. Allgaier won last year. Clements and Allmendinger are also in the field.
The Xfinity Series drivers as a whole deserve some love for their performances on road courses this season. We know Cindric is a stud on them, but even guys with tremendous oval success like Bell and Reddick have run really well on the road courses. Chase Briscoe won the first stage at Mid-Ohio. The absence of Cup Series guys for the most part does help, and we haven’t seen as many road course ringers, but the future of NASCAR looks strong with some of its top prospects.
Expect the Unexpected
Road America is a real interesting place. When Clements won in 2017, he had not finished higher than seventh in a pervious race. He never finished higher than 16th after that. That sounds pretty familiar to this season. Clements just had that season-best fourth-place finish at Bristol. Allgaier’s win made more sense, as it was his fourth of the season last year.
McDowell’s win came in his only Xfinity Series start of the season. Menard, a Wisconsin native who also won on the Milwaukee Mile way back in 2006, has three career Xfinity Series wins. It was his first Road America start since 2010 and he hasn’t run in this race since. It was Gaughan’s first win. He got his second later that year. He doesn’t have any additional wins.
That makes this race a challenging handicap in a lot of respects.
The Handicap and the Picks
It is hard to argue with Cindric, but the 7/4 price tag, which we will likely see offshore as well, is pretty low for a race with this type of uncertainty. Matt DiBenedetto is riding a high from last week’s excellent Cup Series run, but this will be his first Xfinity Series start since 2016. MDB was fourth at Sonoma earlier this year and sixth at Watkins Glen. Still a 5/2 price isn’t good enough.
Bell is 6/1 after finishing 23rd last year. He’s run a lot better than expected on the road course tracks, with seconds at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. At 6/1, he’s likely worth a shot, since that is a rare price for a driver of his capabilities. Allmendinger has won here and is 8/1, but he hasn’t run many races this season. That said, he led the most laps at Watkins Glen before getting black-flagged and was third at Mid-Ohio. The price just might be big enough to take a shot.
Allgaier, Custer, Briscoe, and Reddick all have big numbers, but Allgaier is the only one I’d consider at 12/1. Perhaps lightning can strike twice for Clements, but he’s 100/1 for a reason.
Ultimately, I’d look to Bell, Allmendinger, and Allgaier for fractions of a unit.