Alejandro Alvarez | NASCAR Digital Media

COTA 101: Inaugural race, betting odds, weekend outlook

The NASCAR Cup Series races around the corners at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) for the first time in the series’ history Sunday in the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Before you enjoy a piece of history, take some time to scroll through the details and information you should know.

LAYOUT, PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

Located just outside of Austin, Texas, the Circuit of The Americas has hosted races in nearly every major series in the world. NASCAR Cup Series drivers will take on the 3.41-mile “long course” layout, featuring 20 turns.

The practice session is scheduled for Saturday at 10:05 a.m. ET (FS2), with qualifying on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET (FS1, PRN) before the race.

Which drivers are slated to compete this weekend? Check out the intriguing COTA entry list.

RELATED: Full COTA weekend schedule | See COTA layout for Sunday

BETTING ODDS, FAMILIAR FACES

Seeing Chase Elliott (9-4 odds to win) atop the BetMGM betting odds list for COTA is no surprise — and neither is seeing his usual road-course rivals, Martin Truex Jr. (9-2) and Denny Hamlin (8-1), just slightly behind.

But with a new track and weather potentially coming into play, there is a chance for the underdogs to steal the show.

Fresh off a win at Dover International Speedway, Alex Bowman (20-1) again presents strong value after finishing three of the last four road-course races inside the top 10. Further down the charts, AJ Allmendinger (28-1) and Kurt Busch (30-1) also make a solid case for bettors.

Aside from Truex and Elliott, Ryan Blaney (16-1) and Christopher Bell (20-1) are the only other Cup Series drivers with a road-course win in the last 10 road races.

RELATED: Who has won previous inaugural races?

RULES PACKAGE

The usual road-course package returns this weekend, featuring a significantly shorter rear spoiler and front splitter. Cars are fitted with a tapered-spacer engine, targeting around 750 horsepower and emphasizing lower downforce due to aerodynamic changes.

GOODYEAR TIRES, RAINY FORECAST

Though both practice and qualifying sessions should aid teams in dialing in their cars for the weekend, many will look to combine familiar aspects of previous road courses to plan ahead. The Circuit of The Americas combines high-speed straights often seen at Watkins Glen International with the technical turns of Sonoma Raceway and will test race strategy throughout the entire afternoon.

Cup Series teams will have three sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for practice, one set for qualifying and six sets for the race (five new sets plus one transferred from practice or qualifying).

With this weekend’s forecast showing rain on the radar,  the wet weather radials are expected to be in play at some point during the afternoon. Differing from the standard radials, wet weather tires will be treaded and have white lettering in the place of yellow.

RELATED: Procedures for rain tires in event of wet weather at COTA

SEASON TRENDS, WEEKEND STORY LINES

— Through 13 races, there have been 10 different winners with Truex (three wins) and Bowman (two) being the only repeat winners so far this season.

— Four different organizations have reached Victory Lane in 2021, but Stewart-Haas Racing has yet to join them after winning 10 races a season ago.

— Elliott won four of the last five road-course races, only ending the streak after Bell’s 2021 win at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.

— The race winner started in the top 10 in eight of the last 10 road-course races, and seven of the last eight road-course winners were 26 or younger.

Source: Racing Insights

RELATED: COTA Preview Show, what to expect

FANTASY

Another week means another chance to beat the competition and show off your NASCAR instincts. Take control of your very own team each week with NASCAR Fantasy Live — it’s free to play. Learn everything you need to know at fantasygames.nascar.com

The 2021 fantasy points leaders are Hamlin (574), William Byron (473) and Truex (472).

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available – as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

New for this season, NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more – and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.