NASCAR Betting Guide: Supermarket Heroes 500
In betting, the more information we have when making decisions, the better. There's always going to be variance, but more information allows us to cut into that variance and have stronger convictions in where the best value lies.
In theory, we should have that for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol. It's the series' fifth race in 15 days, and having so much recent data should give us a good indication of who will be fast on Sunday.
That's not reality, though.
The flip side of this race is that it will be just the second in 2020 utilizing the smaller spoilers on the car, and it's the first at a short, high-banked track. We haven't had any races at tracks anything like Bristol in 2020, and we haven't had any at tracks similar to Bristol with a short spoiler since 2018. Information is not nearly as abundant as you would think.
This should influence us from a betting perspective. When there's less information to work with, we can't be as certain about any one play. This amps up the importance of shopping for the best price, and it lowers the appeal in drivers with super short betting odds.
Thankfully, we've got some solid options at FanDuel Sportsbook with longer odds, allowing us to account for these imperfections. Which drivers stand out with where the odds stand right now? Let's check it out.
Brad Keselowski (+1300)
(UPDATE: Keselowski has since shifted to +1200.)
Generally, my betting model is not a huge Brad Keselowski fan. Keselowski rarely dominates races, instead, relying on late-race runs to snag his victories, and dominance is an easy way to make the model view you more favorably.
This weekend is different. Keselowski actually sits atop the model, and he was there even before adding in that he drew the pole position for the race. That got my attention.
The reason the model is vibing with Keselowski here is that he has both solid form and impressive history at Bristol. Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, giving him two top-fives and three top-10s in four races since the end of the COVID-19 layoff. He also led 82 laps and had a sixth-place average running position in Phoenix, the only other track to use the low-spoiler package in 2020.
Keselowski's recent finishes at Bristol are poor, but finishes can be deceiving. He had a top-six average running position and led 40 laps in both of last year's races, and he led 67 laps in the spring 2018 race. With the model being higher on Keselowski than it usually is (and higher on him than everyone else in the field), this is a good week to benefit if Keselowski has another one of his race-ending surges.
Ryan Blaney (+1600)
(UPDATE: Blaney has since shifted to +1200.)
Keselowski's teammate, Ryan Blaney, is the anti-Keselowski. He can dominate a race; he just occasionally has troubles closing the deal. That has been true at Bristol, as well.
Blaney has led 100 or more laps in three of the past four Bristol races. Despite that, he has just one career top-five at the track, in part because he wrecked while leading in the 2018 spring race. Blaney has posted a top-eight average running position in five straight Bristol races, so even with the lack of top-end finishes, you could argue this is one of his better tracks.
The form is in Blaney's corner, too. He had a fourth-place average running position in Thursday's race and finished third for both Charlotte races. Blaney's average running position has been fourth or better in three races this year, meaning he's contending for wins. He just hasn't gotten over the hump yet.
Overall, the Penske cars have dominated Bristol the past couple of years, and Blaney has been a big part of that dominance. He'll start fourth Sunday -- in the outside lane, which is the preferred groove -- and could lead a bunch of laps again. We should be willing to buy into positive regression on Blaney at 16/1.
Alex Bowman (+2200)
Speaking of positive regression, Alex Bowman has been beating down the doors of a win ever since the series returned from its layoff. He has led 256 laps and won three stages the past four races, but he has just one finish better than 18th to show for it. That could change here.
As mentioned before, it's hard to put a ton of stock in current form because we haven't been to any tracks like Bristol yet this year. You could try to use that as a way to discount Bowman's recent run. But speed is speed, and Bowman has had a top-eight average running position in five of the past seven races. Not many drivers in the field have been as hot as this guy.
With how hot Bowman has been, you'd have to assume his history at Bristol was wretched for him to check in at 22/1. That's not really the case, though. Bowman had top-10 finishes in both 2018 races at the track, including a top-five finish and a top-10 average running position in the fall race. He's not Kyle Busch (+350), but he's definitely not a slouch.
Once you combine the current form with the track history, Bowman is third in my model behind Keselowski and Kevin Harvick (+800). We should take the discount on Bowman at 22/1 and keep on riding him.
Matt DiBenedetto (+5000)
(UPDATE: DiBenedetto has since shifted to +2200.)
The glass slipper almost fit perfectly for Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol last year. Just a week after it was announced he would be out of his ride for 2020, DiBenedetto was leading at Bristol with less than 20 laps to go. It would have been one of the sport's bigger upsets had he been able to pull off the win. Eventually, Denny Hamlin (+850) snagged the lead with just 12 to go, relegating DiBenedetto to a second-place finish.
This is a great spot for redemption for DiBenedetto, though. He parlayed that outstanding run into a new job with Wood Brothers Racing, a satellite team of Penske. He's going to have some of the best equipment in the field, something that was very much not true for last year's race, and yet DiBenedetto still had a fifth-place average running position.
Thanks to a solid start to the season, DiBenedetto's team was in the top 12 in owner points entering this race, and he drew the ninth-place starting position. DiBenedetto and Aric Almirola (+4200) are the only drivers starting in that top 12 with odds longer than 22/1, and DiBenedetto is more than double that. Betting on DiBenedetto hasn't quite paid off yet this year, but at a track where he previously flirted with a checkered flag, that trend could turn around.