NASCAR Betting Guide: Xfinity Series Toyota 200 at Darlington
Betting the NASCAR Xfinity Series is a different beast than the Cup Series.
The Xfinity Series is -- if we're diluting things significantly -- the Triple-A of NASCAR. It's where younger drivers can develop their craft and try to earn themselves a ride at the next level.
The problem with that analogy is that Mike Trout isn't lacin' 'em up for the Salt Lake Bees, unless he's on a rehab assignment. If he were, you'd expect Pablo Sanchez-level numbers (as if Trout isn't on that plane already).
In the Xfinity Series, Cup Series regulars can run up to five races each year. This means looking at the entry list is a prerequisite for filling out a bet slip.
For Tuesday's race at Darlington, only one ringer is in the field. That one ringer just happens to be the Xfinity Series' all-time winningest driver, Kyle Busch.
FanDuel Sportsbook is very aware of Busch's record and has appropriately pinned him at -150 to win the race outright. That's an implied probability of 60%, which is absolutely nuts. But with Busch having won 20 of 42 Xfinity Series races the past five seasons, it's easy to understand.
That could make it difficult to bet this race. It's tough to swallow -150 on a driver to finish in one specific spot, but Busch's presence also makes it tougher to have confidence in other drivers in the field.
Thankfully, there are some major road blocks that could crowd Busch's path to victory.
Normally, that wouldn't be the world's biggest deterrent because Busch is so much better than the rest of the field. However, there's yet another complication that arises.
There's some bad weather in the forecast for Tuesday night. In order for a race to be official, drivers must complete either half of the scheduled distance or finish the second stage. In this instance, the halfway mark comes first after just 74 laps.
Now, the night could be a complete wash, in which case the makeup race is scheduled for Thursday. If that happens, the odds it runs the full distance shoot up, and Busch's starting position won't be as big of a concern. But the starting spot combined with the length of the race is enough to get us to buy into some drivers with odds longer than Busch's.
When we decide to deviate from Busch, whose odds stand out as being enticing? Let's check it out.
Austin Cindric (+1800)
Normally, these betting guides start with the driver we're recommending who has the shortest odds just to make things neat and orderly. But the value on Austin Cindric is so good that we've gotta start here.
Cindric has developed a reputation for being a road-course ace in the Xfinity Series, and it makes sense. He won two of the four road-course races last year, and he was top three in the other two. His other upper-level NASCAR win came in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series back in 2017 at Bowmanville, yet another road course.
His reputation there is deserved. But it also distracts from how good Cindric has gotten on ovals.
In the opening four races this year, Cindric has had a top-eight average running position each time, and he has converted that into finishes of second in Las Vegas and third in Fontana. Those are the two tracks most similar to Darlington that the Xfinity Series has run this year, which makes those finishes extra noteworthy.
Cindric was making strides on the intermediate tracks toward the end of 2019, as well, as he led at least 38 laps in both Texas and Homestead, leading to an average running position in the top six for both races. The sample on Cindric running well is increasing, as you would expect for a driver in his age-21 season.
We'll likely get favorable odds on Cindric until he reaches victory lane at a non-road course. With him starting seventh on Tuesday, now's a great time to start buying stock.
Brandon Jones (+1100)
You don't need to use Busch in order to get access to his Joe Gibbs Racing equipment. Instead, you can pivot to his teammate, Brandon Jones, who already has a win this year.
That win for Jones came in Phoenix, which isn't all that similar to Darlington. However, Jones was also a contender in Fontana, which is another track with heavy tire falloff like Darlington. There, Jones won the opening two stages and led 73 of 150 laps, but a cut tire with less than 50 to go ruined his day. If not for that, Jones could have won two of the opening four races, and we wouldn't be getting him at +1100.
One key advantage that Jones has over his non-Busch teammate, Harrison Burton (+850), is experience at Darlington. This will be Jones' fifth career race at Darlington whereas Burton has never raced here, even back in his ARCA and K&N days. With no practice and no qualifying, Burton's first laps on the track will be under green-flag conditions. Jones will also start up in 8th while Burton drew the 12th spot.
Jones' history at Darlington isn't all that favorable, but it's far from terrible. He finished seventh in last year's race, and only one of the drivers who finished ahead of him -- Chase Briscoe (+650) -- is also in this year's field. With his equipment, starting spot, and plus performance this year, there's plenty to like about Jones at this number.
Justin Allgaier (+1100)
If we're going to emphasize experience, we would be foolish to gloss over Justin Allgaier. This will be Allgaier's 10th career Xfinity Series race at Darlington, and even with no wins to his credit, there's a lot to like about him.
Allgaier is similar to Jones where even though the finishes were just middling, he was often finishing behind drivers who won't be in the field on Tuesday. Last year's top three finishers in the points standings all graduated to the Cup Series, leaving Allgaier as the only driver in the Championship Four who stuck around for 2020.
Last year, specifically, was a good race for Allgaier. He had a fifth-place average running position, the best of his career at Darlington and the best of any driver who is in the field for Tuesday's race. It was the sixth time in nine Darlington races that Allgaier has had an average running position of ninth or better and his second consecutive mark in the top six.
The finishes this year for Allgaier have been lackluster with just one top 10 to his name. With that said, he has had a top-10 average running position in each, including a fourth-place mark in Las Vegas. He sits fourth in my model entering the race, and the three drivers ahead of him (Busch, Briscoe, and Burton) are all +850 or shorter. Allgaier allows us to buy into experience without swallowing short odds, which is an ideal blend for this type of race.