Been a while, my friends, but we are back on track this weekend with F1’s Turkish Grand Prix and NASCAR turning left and right at the Charlotte Roval. Both tracks have seen some wild finishes for races in the past few years and are some of my favorites in the world of racing.
As always, before we dive into this weekend, let’s take a look at our last picks, just about a month ago. Unfortunately for the F1 picks, which largely hinged on the performance of Lewis Hamilton, this happened:
Kinda hard to drive with another car on top of your car.
- Valtteri Bottas to win sprint qualifying +185: WIN
- Lewis Hamilton to win the Italian Grand Prix: LOSS
- Ferrari first to retire +900: LOSS
- Mercedes double top six -110: LOSS
- Winning margin over eight seconds -110: LOSS
- Denny Hamlin top five -110: WIN
- Denny Hamlin top three +200: WIN
- Joey Logano top five even money: WIN
- Joey Logano top three +230: LOSS
- Joey Logano to win +700: LOSS
- Romain Grosjean head to head over Alexander Rossi +100: LOSS
We had a lot of plays. We went bold. We went big. It paid off in some spots, a +200 and +185 winner over the weekend, but losing four of five F1 bets in a crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton undoubtedly hurt us. Onward we march.
F1’s return to Turkey comes on a weekend they were actually scheduled to be in Japan, at the legendary Suzuka Circuit, but that whole “global pandemic” thing had other ideas.
After being gifted a race win in Russia after Lando Norris slid off the track on slick tires in the rain, Lewis Hamilton will start from somewhere in the middle of the pack for the Turkish Grand Prix. Hamilton is serving a 10-place grid penalty as Mercedes has put a new internal combustion engine (or ICE) in his car, his fourth of the season, and F1 only allows for three before enforcing grid penalties.
As stated, with the fresh ICE, Lewis will start somewhere in the middle of the pack, but is even money to qualify fastest, and has been consistently quicker than his rivals in practice running so far on Friday. Based on results alone, I think you have to jump at Lewis at even money to top Saturday morning’s qualifying.
By the same rationale, I love Hamilton to record the fastest lap in the race at +165. Starting from midfield, and looking for every championship point possible, Mercedes and Lewis will be eager to get down a quick race lap to not lose any ground on Max Verstappen and Red Bull this weekend.
Another quick runner in Friday’s practice was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who’s 1:23.97 lap time was just 16 hundredths of a second slower than Lewis Hamilton’s best. With some engine upgrades to the Ferrari and the car showing legitimate pace, I’m on Charles Leclerc to finish on the podium at +165.
Onto some NASCAR, and when NASCAR turns both left and right, Chase Elliott is naturally going to be a race favorite, currently going at +225. Elliott is a road course expert, with seven wins in his last 15 road races since 2018, including last October’s Charlotte Roval race.
While I can’t say that Elliott won’t win, this weekend is also a good chance for Kyle Larson to return to his winning form, and claw back at Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Cup Series championship race. I like Larson at +450 to win, and Larson top three -110. Larson has won two, and finished in the top three of four of his last five road races since moving to the #5 Hendrick Motorsports car.
If you want a longshot who’s always in the mix at road courses, AJ Allmendinger is +1800 to win, and was the winner of NASCAR’s last road race, at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. At a similar (albeit much larger) oval/road course combo at Daytona this year, Allmendinger made his way from 34th at the race start all the way to 7th place across the finish line.
Looking at some other playoff battles, there are four drivers who are “on the bubble” of the NASCAR playoffs, just below the playoff cutline and desperate for a good race at the Roval: Kevin Harvick -9, Christopher Bell -28, William Byron -44, and Alex Bowman -52.
For those unaware of NASCAR’s playoff system, this week’s race in Charlotte cuts down the playoff field from twelve to eight. Only drivers in the playoffs are eligible for the season championship, and those aforementioned drivers need to get within the top eight to stay alive in the chase.
So let’s play some head-to-heads with playoff implications! I like Bowman head-to-head over Harvick at -120, road course aficionado AJ Allmendinger head-to-head over Christopher Bell at +115, and Denny Hamlin head-to-head over William Byron -120.
Big Sunday ahead. If you’re a football guy NASCAR is great second screen material. Let’s go racin’.
Oh! Almost forgot: As has become customary since football season’s start, I close with a college football play: UConn -3 over UMass. Who said football was supposed to be “good” anyways?