NASCAR Betting Guide: Dixie Vodka 400

Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race is going to have a different feel to it than recent races at Homestead.

From 2002 on, Homestead has hosted the final race of each Cup Series season, and from 2014 on, it has served as the championship race. In each of those championship races, one of the four drivers eligible for the championship wound up winning the race outright.

This week, it's just another regular-season race, and only one trophy is on the line. The pool of drivers who could conceivably win is bigger than it was with nobody giving way to make sure they don't wreck one of the championship contenders.

The track itself is also going to be different. Whereas those races took place in November, this is June in Florida. It's gonna be hot, leading to slick conditions that may not be as present in November. So not only will the drivers play this one differently, but it'll almost drive as if it's a new track entirely.

That's going to cause some complications from a betting perspective as we'll have to put less weight on track history than usual. Even with that being said, we can still spot some pretty solid values right now at FanDuel Sportsbook.

With the starting order set, which drivers should we look to bet for the Dixie Vodka 400? Let's check it out.

Kevin Harvick (+470)

As we've discussed several times since the end of the COVID-19 layoff, I'm hesitant to bet drivers at super short numbers. We don't have data from practice, meaning our level of confidence in each driver needs to go down a hair.

But Kevin Harvick is just too damn good.

Entering last Sunday's race in Atlanta, Harvick had the eighth-best mark any driver has had in my model since the start of last year. That's even with no practice data, which makes it borderline insane how well he graded out. He went on to lead 151 laps and win the race.

Harvick isn't quite as good in the model this week. Instead of being eighth-best, he's 10th. What a slouch.

Since the start of last year, nine drivers have had a model rating within half a position either way of where Harvick is at entering Sunday. Of those nine drivers, five have won the race, and another finished runner-up. Harvick had a third-place average running position and led 92 laps in Las Vegas, the only other race at a lower-banked, 1.5-mile track this year. We can have a good amount of confidence in him, justifying betting him at a short number.

Denny Hamlin (+1000)

Both Chase Elliott (+800) and Joey Logano (+850) have strong profiles entering this race with Logano being second in my model and Elliott in fourth. If you have an inclination toward them, they're worth a long look. But Denny Hamlin is also interesting at an even better number.

Hamlin has been stout since the end of the COVID-19 layoff with a win, a runner-up, and four top-fives in seven races. In one of the races where he didn't get a top-five, he led 131 laps before a late unforced error ruined his chances at a win.

If you look at Las Vegas, Hamlin's going to appear unattractive. He had a 21st-place average running position in that race and was non-competitive for the duration. But it's important to remember that was one week after he won the Daytona 500. He also ran well at tracks like this down the stretch last year, posting a sixth-place average running position in Homestead and waxing the field in a win at Kansas.

The reason Hamlin's odds are longer likely stems from the overall struggles of Joe Gibbs Racing to start the year. It's a valid concern. But Hamlin has good history at this track and on this track type, and he has flashed race-winning upside of late. There's a lot to like here for 10/1.

Alex Bowman (+2200)

As mentioned with Harvick and Hamlin, our best indicator of what to expect this weekend likely comes from Las Vegas due to its similarities to Homestead. If we're going to make that connection, we have to love this number on Alex Bowman.

Bowman nearly won that Vegas race. He was chasing down Ryan Blaney (+1100) with only a few laps left before a caution bunched up the field. Bowman and Blaney pitted, but a bunch of other cars stayed out, allowing Logano to get the win. If things had broken differently, Bowman very easily could have gone to victory lane.

He did win in Fontana, and Bowman has been knocking on the door of another win for a while since. He was runner-up in the first Darlington race and won three of five stages between the two Charlotte races. He has had the speed; they just haven't been able to put a full race together.

This was an elite track type for Bowman in 2019. He almost got his first career win in Kansas and then did convert shortly after that in Chicago. With how strong Hendrick Motorsports has been this year, Bowman is cheap, high-quality access to them at 22/1.

Erik Jones (+5000)

As mentioned at the top, we shouldn't put a ton of stock into track history this weekend. The track is going to race differently, and our sample is small as the Cup Series comes here just once per season.

But ignoring Erik Jones at 50/1 is still tough to do.

Jones was able to push his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates for the win here last year even though he was no longer in contention for the championship. He started 16th, dug his way through the field, and took home a third-place finish. You don't often get guys who finished third in the most recent race at a track for odds this long, but Jones is giving us a window this weekend.

It's easy to understand why Jones' odds are this long. His lone two top-fives for the season came at tracks in Bristol and Darlington where the early-season woes of Joe Gibbs Racing weren't as apparent. Outside of Martin Truex Jr. (+470), they all struggled in Las Vegas, so an adjustment of expectations is necessary.

With that being said, Jones could benefit from a hot, slick track on Sunday, as evidenced by his long history of strong runs in Darlington. He's also in elite equipment and has proven himself capable of winning in the Cup Series not all that long ago. If you want to gamble on a longshot, Jones is easily your best outlet.