NASCAR Betting Guide: Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard
For the first time since the end of the COVID-19 layoff, we're going to get practice before a NASCAR race. And it's for good reason.
This weekend, the Xfinity Series is going to run the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first time a NASCAR series has hit that course. To give teams time to adjust to a brand new layout, they're holding practice sessions on Friday at 1:30 pm Eastern and then again at 3 pm.
If you're new to NASCAR betting, practice data is huge. It's like knowing the velocity of Max Scherzer's warmup pitches before he hits the mound. It can occasionally lead us down bad paths, but more data is never a bad thing.
It also represents an inflection point for betting. Sportsbooks take in that data, too, and if a driver is pumping out massive speed on Friday, you can bet their odds will shorten significantly once betting re-opens post-practice. It's never a bad idea to throw in early-week bets, hoping to beat the books before they react to what they see on the track.
The starting order hasn't been set yet, but we do know the general range of where each driver will start. Who stands out as of now based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook? Let's take a look.
A.J. Allmendinger (+250)
Technically, this race is called the Pennzoil 150, but you could just as easily call it the Allmendinger v. Cindric 150. Austin Cindric (+140) and A.J. Allmendinger (+250) combined to win three of the four road-course races last year, and they had just one non-podium finish between the two of them (not counting when Allmendinger finished second behind Cindric in Watkins Glen but was later disqualified). There's a reason their odds are so short.
Cindric, specifically, never finished worse than third in the four races, and he finished on the podium in two of four road-course races the year before that, too. So, why side with Allmendinger here instead of Cindric?
It's truly all about the number. The implied odds of Cindric winning are 41.7%, and they're 28.6% for Allmendinger. On a track that neither driver has ever run before, it's hard to lay +140 on anybody. But we can still get access to The Big Two via Allmendinger at a more lenient number.
Allmendinger already has a win to his credit this year in the Xfinity Series, and he has been top-10 in all four races he has run. He also has a massive experience edge on Cindric with this being his age-38 season while Cindric is just 21. With the extra experience and the longer number on Allmendinger's side, we can afford to give him a slight edge between the two. Regardless, you have to account for the edge these two hold over the field when diagnosing the chances for all other drivers.
Noah Gragson (+1600)
The only drivers to finish in the top five in all four Xfinity road course races last year were Cindric and Tyler Reddick, who has since graduated to the Cup Series. But two other drivers achieved that in three of the four races. One was another Cup graduate in Christopher Bell. The other was Noah Gragson.
Gragson opened the year with a solid ninth-place run in Watkins Glen. He then topped that with three straight top-fives to close out the road-course schedule, and he had an average running position of 11th or better in all four races. He didn't luck his way into the quality runs.
Gragson showed skills on road courses in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, too, taking home a runner-up finish at Bowmanville in 2017, his age-18 season. The only guy to top him that day was Cindric.
We know the equipment is good because Gragson has consistently been in contention this year, and he has shown he's no slouch when forced to turn right. Gragson gets us a top-tier competitor who figures to at least be in contention toward the end of the race for 16/1, and it's hard to ask for more than that.
Justin Haley (+2900)
Going back to that 2017 Truck Series race in Bowmanville, Cindric and Gragson weren't the only now-Xfinity Series regulars to run well there. Justin Haley finished fourth that day. He apparently learned something, too, as he went on to win there the following year. Now, he'll get a shot to flash those skills one level up.
Similar to Gragson, Haley had quality runs last year in the Xfinity Series, too; he just got overshadowed by Cindric and Allmendinger. Haley had a pair of top-10 finishes, including a sixth-place run in Elkhart Lake. He's now a year older and has proven he can win in NASCAR's upper two series.
Haley has a win and four top-fives in this season, and he's driving for the same team as Allmendinger. Toss in his quality history on road courses, and he's worth a bet as a longshot here.
Brett Moffitt (+15000)
Sure. Why not?
Brett Moffitt's team is outside the top 12 in owner points, so he's going to start between 13th and 24th. That's a negative. And Moffitt's not in top-tier equipment like Cindric and Gragson. But he's another driver who has done well in the Truck Series on road courses.
The year that Haley won in Bowmanville, Moffitt finished third. He used the experience gained there to turn around and win the following year, leading 44 of 64 total laps in the process. He has never run a road course in the Xfinity Series, but he showed there that he's capable.
This is the first race at a new track, and things could get absolutely wild. That allows us to take some longshots. In Moffitt, we're getting someone who won on a road course in a lower series just last year and who has had at least some respectable runs this year. With a number this long, there are worse ideas than throwing a couple bucks on Moffitt and seeing what happens.