NASCAR Odds: Who Will Be the First Truck Series Winner at COTA?

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 07: Sheldon Creed, driver of the #2 GMS Racing Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series LiftKits4Less.com 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 07, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The truth is, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series doesn’t venture into the world of road-course racing very often — and it has never visited the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. 

That ends this weekend. 

Whenever the BetMGM NASCAR odds have a middle-of-the-pack odds ranking for the generic “any other driver” slot at +2500, you know this is a truck race you’re going to want to pay attention to because anything can happen. It’s anybody’s guess when you bet NASCAR online

In the past decade, the truck series has visited only two road courses — the Daytona road course (2020) and Bowmanville (2013-2019) in Canada. With the youth flowing through the series and the lack of history on road-course racing in this circuit, it’s a challenge to project who may do well.

But don’t worry, there are a few clues we can run with. Wink wink.

THE FAVORITES

Sheldon Creed (+225)

Creed won on the Daytona road course in 2020, and he won the Camping World Truck Series championship last year — and he’s even raced in the Xfinity Series at road courses at Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake. In his short career in the truck series, he has three top-10 finishes on these unique tracks. He also has 30 career top-10 finishes in the series and six wins, so he’s not just another road-course ringer.

He’s only 23 years old and an up-and-comer in NASCAR. Creed won at Darlington in the last race and is third in the truck series standings coming into this weekend.

OTHER THREATS: John Hunter Nemechek (+375), Ben Rhodes (+750), and last year’s most popular driver in the trucks, Zane Smith (+750), are next in line in the online odds. Rhodes was the winner at Daytona’s road course earlier this year when Creed took runner-up honors, and Nemechek — son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek — took third that day. 

THE DARK HORSE THREAT

Kaz Grala (+1400)

Grala is 22 years old and is an interesting study. He last raced in the truck series full time in 2017 and finished seventh in the standings as an 18-year old. That year he won at Daytona International Speedway on the high banks, then led off the 2018 season with a top-10 performance in the Xfinity Series restrictor-plate race at Daytona — still just a teenager.

Last season, he took seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series in the Daytona road course race. That explains the respect from the NASCAR betting powers that be at BetMGM.

In the Xfinity Series, he’s posted a top-10 performance at the Charlotte road course (2018), as well as top fives at the Eklhart Lake (Wisc.) road course (twice) while running with Richard Childress Racing (2019 and 2020). 

Bottom line? The man can wheel the car in the twists and turns of road-course racing. While veterans Matt Crafton (+1200) and Paul Menard (+1200) are hard to ignore, Grala is an interesting youngster to keep an eye on.

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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All America teams, covered FCS college football for HERO Sports … and is a veteran reporter of five spring Daytona Speedweeks (1997, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009). Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.

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