Predictions for the XPEL 225 – NASCAR Truck Series (March 26, 2022)
Last week’s unique style of racing at Atlanta didn’t lead to much success among my top picks. Corey Heim scored a surprising victory, but Ben Rhodes and Zane Smith finished top five. Both drivers were among my top picks for Atlanta.
Atlanta offered superspeedway style racing, but we’ll do a 180 as we head to COTA. This will be the first time the Truck Series races on a road course in 2022.
Which driver has what it takes to win at COTA? Check out my top picks for the 2022 XPEL 225.
Kyle Busch (-140)
A few weeks ago, I picked Kyle Busch to win at Las Vegas in the Truck Series. Surprisingly, Busch didn’t have the best truck, finishing second to Chandler Smith. It’s tough to pick Busch, but he doesn’t present much value. At the same time, he holds a significant advantage over the field.
Surprisingly, Busch has never raced in the Truck Series on a road course. However, we have plenty of data from the Cup and Xfinity Series. Busch raced in the Xfinity Series at COTA in 2021 and put together a dominant performance.
- Starting Position: 1st
- Finishing Position: 1st
- Laps Led: 35 of 46
It wasn’t much of a fight as Busch cruised to victory at COTA. Busch was among the top contenders in the Cup Series race at COTA, but he had to make an extra pit stop, leading to a 10th-place finish.
Busch has four wins and nine top-five finishes in 17 road course starts in the Xfinity Series. That represents his best comparison for the Truck Series.
He is always in contention in the Truck Series, no matter the track. There’s no reason to believe we won’t see the same at COTA.
Kaz Grala (+1200)
There are a few drivers that only race on road courses. I included Miguel Paludo among my top Xfinity Series picks for COTA because he is a road course expert. Kaz Grala is the top road course ace in the Truck Series.
Since racing full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2018, Grala has almost exclusively appeared in superspeedway and road course races. Last season, he only made three starts in the Truck Series. Check out his finishes.
- Daytona Road Course: 8th
- COTA: 2nd
- Watkins Glen: 12th
Unsurprisingly, his three starts came on road courses. He didn’t lead any laps at the Daytona Road Course or Watkins Glen but was among the top contenders at COTA.
Grala’s 11 laps led were the second-most, trailing Sheldon Creed’s 14. Grala finished top 10 in both stages but didn’t have anything for Todd Gilliland. Gilliland won’t be in this year’s race, which opens the door for Grala.
He’ll return to a familiar ride, driving the No. 02 truck for Young Motorsports. That’s the same truck he drove in his three Truck Series starts in 2021.
Grala has what it takes to win on a road course. Will COTA be the one?
Zane Smith (+1600)
We’ve talked about two drivers that only make select starts in the Truck Series. Now, let’s talk about a Truck Series regular in Zane Smith. Smith has been great this season, scoring a pair of top-five finishes. It would’ve been three top-five finishes, but a post-race penalty disqualified him at Las Vegas.
Smith has been among the best Truck Series drivers in 2022. Can he keep up his success? He has four starts on road courses in the Truck Series. Here are his results.
- Daytona Road Course (2020): 13th
- Daytona Road Course (2021): 40th
- COTA (2021): 8th
- Watkins Glen (2021): 6th
His last-place finish at the Daytona Road Course came after he was in a crash. Aside from that, we’ve seen him produce solid numbers on road courses. His 2022 success gives me confidence in his ability to improve upon those finishes.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Smith drives for Front Row Motorsports. Todd Gilliland dominated COTA in this truck, winning last year’s race by over seven seconds.
I can’t say Smith will do that, but he has a great chance to contend for the win. He could become the first Truck Series driver with two wins in 2022.
Ben Rhodes (+1600)
Ben Rhodes is knocking on the door of his first win of the 2022 season. The 2021 Truck Series champion has a pair of runner-up finishes and has led laps in all three races. He should extend that streak at COTA.
Rhodes didn’t do much in his lone start at COTA. He started 11th and finished 10th. However, we’ve seen him exhibit speed on road courses in the Truck Series. Check out his performance in the 2021 Daytona Road Course race.
- Starting Position: 1st
- Finishing Position: 1st
- Laps Led: 13 of 51
He went toe-to-toe with Sheldon Creed and John Hunter Nemechek. The trio combined to lead 44 of the 51 laps. Rhodes passed Creed, leading the final seven laps to score his first career road course victory.
Rhodes hasn’t replicated his victory, but he has two top-five finishes and four top 10s in eight road course races. That should give you confidence in his chances to have a good performance on Saturday.
It’s only a matter of time before Rhodes starts his title defense with a victory. His two second-place finishes show he’s on the edge of victory.
Who Will Win the 2022 XPEL 225?
I want to pick against Kyle Busch, but I can’t do it. Busch has such a significant advantage in the Truck Series. He had a ton of success at COTA in the Xfinity Series and Cup Series. That should carry over to the Truck Series.
If you’d like more value, Zane Smith is a great pick. He has been running great and drives the same truck that won this race last season.
The top NASCAR sportsbooks give you the best odds for the Truck Series race at COTA. Make sure you tune into the race Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on FS1.