Another Surprise Winner
Last weekend produced what can only be described as one of the most chaotic, unpredictable, and exciting races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Admittedly, with a new track layout and new pavement, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 was bound to produce some unexpected results, but almost no one could have predicted how the race would end.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that William Byron won on the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but some might have missed how he did it. Byron was in the mix to win the race from the get-go, but it wasn’t until the latter stages that he really seemed like he could do it.
Over the last 14 laps, Byron seemed like a sitting duck, with Bubba Wallace looking like a serious threat to win the race. But Wallace couldn’t pull it off as he struggled to advance on the final lap. Most of that had to do with the tight battle between Wallace, Ross Chastain, and the rest of the field, who were battling for positions behind Wallace and were, as a result, unable to pull ahead.
This effectively helped Byron win the race, but the favorable conditions definitely don’t take away from his superb driving in Atlanta. By winning the race, Wallace became the fifth different driver in the Victory Lane of 2022, proving himself as a threat for all of the upcoming races.
Can Wallace Go Back-To-Back?
Yes, he definitely can. However, while Wallace drove well in Atlanta, we have our eyes set on another driver, who did not finish under the spotlight, but he caught our attention with his overall showing last weekend.
If you’re wondering who that mysterious driver might be, it won’t be difficult to figure out if you’ve been watching the race. Ask yourself, who had the most impressive performance in Atlanta? Hint: it’s Ross Chastain.
Chastain ended the 2022 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in second place, which is impressive on its own, but what’s even more incredible is how he managed to do it. Early on, Chastain looked like the man to beat, and we would even argue that he would have won had he not had the incident with his tire.
After leading Stage 1, Chastain suffered a blown tire, which sent his car into the outside wall. And he found himself several laps down after his crew earned him a penalty for improperly fueling his car. But despite all the setbacks, Chastain still ended the race in second!
He was a bit lucky that his car had suffered only minor damage, allowing him to continue racing, but we have to acknowledge that he fought his way into a runner-up finish despite the penalty and a blown tire. And that’s seriously impressive.
Obviously, his performance in Atlanta doesn’t guarantee Chastain another strong showing in Texas. But at the same time, he had shown incredible form so far this season.
Chastain’s runner-up finish last week marked his third consecutive top-three finish of the season. He started the year poorly, with a 40th-place finish at Daytona and a 29th-place finish in California. But he has since locked in a bronze medal from Las Vegas and now back-to-back runner-up finishes from Phoenix and Atlanta.
EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix Betting Prediction
We’re still a whole week away from the 2022 EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix, so we might need to wait a few more days before the online bookmakers start offering odds on the next NASCAR race. Still, even without knowing what the odds might show, it’s very difficult to look past Ross Chastain as our main man.
Following a shaky start to the season, Chastain has found some serious traction and is now arguably the hottest driver in the field. He has three back-to-back top-three finishes across Phoenix, Las Vegas, and now Atlanta, suggesting that it’s only a matter of time before he wins his first race of the season.
Chastain has only one start at COTA from May 2021, when he made his debut here. But despite having no previous experience on the track, he still finished fourth. Even more impressive is that he achieved that feat while starting from the 20th.
Another driver that deserves attention ahead of the next weekend’s race is the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott. He won at COTA last year and is one of the top rivers in the field – even though it would be hard to tell looking at past showings.
Admittedly, Elliott has had a very shaky start to the season and has yet to finish inside the top-five. Still, he has three top-10s from Daytona, Las Vegas, and Atlanta, where he places sixth. It marked his best finish of the season, so it might be fair to start believing Elliott has found his stride.
Still, we would like to see a bit more from the last year’s COTA winner before we can start believing he can actually compete for the top finish. Likewise, Kyle Larson deserves a lot of respect, but he has been up-and-down this season, so it’s hard to say how he’ll do next weekend.
Prediction: Ross Chastain to win
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.