O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona Picks and Predictions

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Updated: February 17, 2021

Martin Truex Jr., along with Chase Elliott, have combined to win eight of the last nine NASCAR Cup Series races on road courses, making it no surprise the two are heavily favored this weekend.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

The Cup Series is staying at Daytona International Speedway… but this time we’re making NASCAR picks for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253—Sunday’s 3.61-mile road course.

We all thought that the Daytona ROVAL experiment last year would be just a one-year deal. They needed a quick replacement for Watkins Glen and in came a wild idea—race on the road course at DIS for the first time ever and do so without any practice or qualifying.

It actually paid off well and now, due to Fontana being canceled in 2021, NASCAR needed another filler—and in comes this race as they can do a Daytona 2-step to start off the year.

So Covers Experts’ Auto Racing Advisor is here to break down the field with his O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 betting picks and predictions, with the green flag dropping at 2:30 p.m. ET.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 favorites: Elliott, Truex—then everybody else. 

Chase Elliott (+225) and Martin Truex Jr. (+400)

Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. enter as this weekend’s favorites…and for good reason. The duo has combined to win eight of the last nine points-paying races on road courses in NASCAR’s premier division—and took two of the top three finishing spots in last August’s race here (with Elliott winning).

Elliott also finished runner-up in last Tuesday’s Busch Clash, while Truex crashed while leading with the arguably fastest car.

Ryan Blaney (+1,200)

He was the driver to win that one road race over the last nine that Elliott and Truex didn’t claim, and he was one turn away from a Clash win last week.

Denny Hamlin (+1,200)

He was the runner-up last August and he had likely the third or fourth-fastest car last Tuesday night.

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O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 long-shot picks: Allmendinger the ringer

AJ Allmendinger (+1,300)

This is a strong road course ringer. Allmendinger’s lone Cup win came back in 2014 at Watkins Glen but in the Xfinity Series he’s won the last two years on the Charlotte ROVAL, was runner-up last year at Road America and fourth on the Indy road course—while also being runner-up at the Glen in 2018 and third at Mid-Ohio in 2019. Watch out for him on Sunday.

Erik Jones (+6,600)

Worth a look here. Jones, has five Top-8 finishes in his last eight road course starts. The only three finishes not in the top 10 were on the Charlotte ROVAL – in his first two years of racing on it – and 11th at Daytona last year. That’s worth noting because he was actually third on the ROVAL a year ago too.

Michael McDowell (+6,600)

Can he start 2-for-2 in 2021? The Daytona 500 champion also finished 10th in last year’s road course race—and has been known as a good road course racer.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 fades: Tread lightly with Busch 

Kyle Busch (+1,200)

He ran well last August, before an issue took him out, and he does have nine Top-7 finishes in his last 14 road course starts—including four wins overall. But on ROVAL’s, he’s not been so hot: Busch was 32nd, 37th and 30th, respectively, at Charlotte on their ROVAL and 37th in this race last year.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 head-to-head pick

Check back later for an O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 head-to-head pick when the markets are live!

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 race preview

With this being the second race of the year, you’d expect this not to hold a ton of weight yet—but it certainly will. See, with the Busch Clash taking place last week on this very course, mixed with a grand total of seven road course races on the 2021 schedule, this race really does mean a lot.

You have to have your road course program put together in order to succeed now in NASCAR. Gone are the days of just getting by on them. A few years ago, we only had two annual stops on road courses: One in Sonoma and the other in Watkins Glen. Then, the addition of the Charlotte ROVAL came. Now, we’ve gone from 2/36 races 7/36 being on road courses…in a span of five years.

This will also mark the first of 28 races this season that will not feature any practice or qualifying.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 key stat

As mentioned above, Elliott and Truex Jr. won eight of the last nine road courses. But they have also accounted for four straight road wins. The only one that they didn’t win was at the ROVAL in Charlotte in 2018—where Truex was leading on the final lap, heading into the final turn, but was crashed by Jimmie Johnson.

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