NASCAR Betting Guide: Alsco Uniforms 500K
If we learned anything from last Wednesday -- the first time the NASCAR Cup Series doubled-up at a track over the course of a few days -- it was to buy low on drivers who were fast Sunday but didn't have the results to show for it.
Entering that race, two drivers had odds longer than 13/1 despite posting a top-10 average running position during the first race at the track. Those two drivers -- Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones -- both contended for the win Wednesday. Bowyer won the two opening stages, and Jones led 27 laps before finishing fifth. Neither guy got the win, but they were better than the market thought they'd be.
Now we get a chance to apply those lessons to the Alsco Uniforms 500K, the second Cup Series race at Charlotte this week. It's a different race from what we saw Sunday as this one will be about half the length, but speed is speed. If a driver was good Sunday, they're probably going to fly again in the do-over.
The starting order is set with the top 20 finishers from Sunday's race being inverted and the rest of the field starting where they finished. We know where they'll line up; we just have to predict where they'll finish.
Which drivers should we look to bet based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook? Let's check it out.
Alex Bowman (+650)
The betting markets on Alex Bowman aren't necessarily soft. After all, he has the fourth shortest odds in the field, and nobody is shorter than +550.
But Bowman may still be undervalued.
Bowman had a dominant car for most of Sunday's race, leading 164 laps and winning the opening two stages. His fourth-place average running position was second-best in the field behind Martin Truex Jr. (+550). However, Bowman slipped on a restart with just two laps left and fell back to a 19th-place finish.
Bowman's misfortune Sunday is his salvation on Wednesday. Because of the invert, Bowman will start second, ahead of most of the drivers pushing him for the win in the opener. A good number of the other drivers starting at the front don't have the speed to match Bowman, which could allow him to control at least the first stage, if not more.
We saw in Sunday's race the importance of track position, and only one person will have a better view of the green flag than Bowman. After adding Sunday's race into my model, Bowman is the top-ranked driver in the entire field, nudging me to bet him even at +650.
William Byron (+1800)
William Byron -- like Bowman -- benefits from misfortune on Sunday night. It just wasn't his own misfortune. Instead, it was his teammate's.
Byron originally finished 21st on Sunday, one spot behind the invert. Had he stayed there, he would have started 21st and had to claw his way through the field.
But then Jimmie Johnson (+850) got disqualified, bumping everybody behind him up one spot. So instead of starting 21st, Byron gets to be on the pole alongside Bowman. He owes Johnson a big ol' thank you card.
Outside of starting position and their roles within Hendrick Motorsports, Byron and Bowman share another similarity: their finishing position on Sunday doesn't reflect how good their cars were. Byron cut a tire with just a couple of laps left and went a lap down, leading to his poor finish.
But before that, Byron's car was flying. He had a seventh-place average running position for the race, his second straight top-eight mark at Charlotte. As Bowman, Johnson, and Chase Elliott (+550) showed on Sunday, the Hendrick cars have race-winning speed. Now, Byron gets clean air to boot.
With the way the field is lined up, it seems likely that either Byron or Bowman will jump out front and lead the opening portion of the race. It's not a bad idea to bet both at their current numbers and see if one of them can convert their favorable starting spots into a checkered flag.
Erik Jones (+2200)
In Sunday's race, 14 drivers had an average running position of 14th or better. Of those 14, only three have odds longer than 18/1 at FanDuel Sportsbook. Two are the Richard Childress Racing teammates of Tyler Reddick (+3200) and Austin Dillon (+4000). Those two are certainly at least on the table.
The other driver, though, is in more proven equipment and traditionally runs well on this track type. That's Erik Jones.
Jones drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, meaning he is teammates with Truex. Truex led 87 laps Sunday and was contending for the win the entire night. JGR hasn't looked as good yet in 2020 as they did in 2019, but they're not completely off by any means. That bodes well for Jones, who is the highest-starting driver in the Gibbs camp (and also has the longest odds of the group).
Jones had a solid car on Sunday night with an 11th-place average running position. He finished sixth in both the second and third stages and was running in the top five at times. That race gave him a top-11 average running position in all three races since the end of the COVID-19 layoff.
As mentioned, this is also a good track type for Jones. He has three top-fives in his past four races in Texas -- leading at least 30 laps in two of those -- and he finished seventh at Charlotte in 2017, his age-21 season. Jones is a bet on talent in plus equipment at 22/1, and with how solid his car was Sunday, we should feel comfortable giving him a sniff.
Aric Almirola (+7000)
Aric Almirola was in the betting guide for the Coca-Cola 600, too, and that clearly didn't work out. He spun in qualifying, started dead last, and was mired in traffic all night long. Womp womp.
But now, we get him at 70/1 and starting up in sixth. That'll work.
Almirola was in a similar spot for last Wednesday's race at Darlington. There, he started ninth, ran up front the entire night, and had a seventh-place average running position. It was his third top-10 average running position and third top-10 finish this year. With the speed in the Stewart-Haas Racing cars, if you give him track position, he's often able to maintain it.
The question around Almirola is still about his upside, so it's wise to do some market shopping here. For example, he's 14/1 for a top-five and +190 for a top 10 at DraftKings Sportsbook, and if you can get him at those numbers, you should take full advantage.
But for race outrights themselves, this number seems to account for the major questions around Almirola. Just this past fall, he had a fourth-place average running position in Texas and finished second, so a win is within his range of outcomes. With better circumstances on his hands tonight, we can back Almirola at this number and feel pretty good about it.