NASCAR Betting Guide: Goodyear 400
There are some big unknowns for this week in Darlington. Namely, we have no idea how this track is going to race.
Last year's trips to Darlington were in the 550-horsepower package. The track is closest in length to the 1.5-mile tracks, which also run the 550 package.
But this time around, they're running the 750-horsepower package. A different group of drivers tends to run up front in that setting than in the 550 package, so this is a big deviation.
The tough part is we don't know how hard we can lean on the 750 package results, either. Darlington is much faster than spots like Phoenix, Richmond, and Martinsville, and Bristol was run on dirt.
If you're looking for direct comps, you're not going to find them.
To me, this leads to an approach where we value drivers who are good in both packages, specifically on the tracks with heavy tire wear. If Darlington is a blend between the two packages, finding well-rounded drivers would help us be in contention no matter which direction it skews. The tire wear angle is huge given that's the main characteristic that stands out here.
Once we make that our focus, which drivers stand out based on their current odds at FanDuel Sportsbook? Let's check it out.
Martin Truex Jr. to Win (+700)
As always, make sure you check Martin Truex Jr.'s number at each book available to you. He's +750 at FoxBet and +800 at DraftKings. Go snag him there if those numbers are at your disposal.
If, hypothetically, you can bet Truex only at +700, there's still value in him, though.
Truex is the poster boy of the "good in both packages" theory. In the 750-horsepower package, he has won two of four oval races, and he led more than 100 laps in the two races he didn't win. Truex finished third in Homestead, one of the 550 races with heavy tire wear.
Although it was in a different package, Truex nearly won at Darlington last year, too. He was running down Chase Elliott (+1000) late in the race, but the two tangled fighting for the lead, pushing Truex down to a 22nd-place finish. He led 196 laps in that race, nearly securing his first Darlington win since 2015.
Thanks to his well-rounded showings, Truex ranks second in my win simulations behind only Denny Hamlin (+500). Truex's odds there are 14.0% compared to 12.5% implied at this number. Again, hunt for a better number than +700 on Truex, but the sims say his odds should be +614.
William Byron to Win (+1600) or Podium (+450)
Outside of Truex, we're going to look for some safety. Kyle Larson (+400) is going to be a force in this race, and we need to find ways to still spin a profit if he does what he's capable of. With Truex, the outright is fine because of how much the simulations like him. With William Byron, we're going to pair his outright with a podium bet, as well.
The sims, luckily, do show value in both numbers. The bigger edge is actually in him to podium (21.6% versus 18.2% implied) than to win (6.6% versus 5.9% implied), so if you were to pick one, the podium is actually the better route.
The reason we can go at the win, too, despite Larson's presence is what Byron has done this year. He beat Larson in another track where Larson mops up -- Homestead -- which is also one of our heavy tire-wear tracks. His average running position there was fourth. In the other three races with heavy tire wear (Atlanta, Bristol, and Richmond), Byron's average running positions have been 7th, 5th, and 8th, respectively.
Byron proved last year that he can get around this track, picking up a fifth-place finish on a 10th-place average running position during the playoff race. It seems like Byron is making the leap to superstardom in his age-23 season, so we might not get him at +1600 for long. That helps nudge us over the edge to taking both the outright and the podium here.
Alex Bowman to Podium (+600) or Finish Top 10 (-130)
You can find Alex Bowman outrights as long as +2200 in spots. He's a value there (4.4% implied versus 5.5% in my sims). As with Byron, though, the biggest edge here is in the non-outright markets.
Specifically, Bowman is a tremendous bet to find the podium. He's at 14.3% implied versus 18.2% in my simulations. It may seem tough to lay -130 on him to finish top-10, but once again, it's a value bet at 56.5% implied versus 61.1% in my simulations.
The reason my model loves Bowman is similar to why it likes Truex: he can do well in both packages. He won in Richmond (a high tire-wear race in the 750 package) and finished third in Atlanta (heavy tire wear with the 550 package). Bowman popping at tracks with heavy tire wear is nothing new, either. He won in Fontana last year and was runner-up in the first Darlington race. When things get slick, Bowman tends to ascend.
That runner-up isn't Bowman's lone plus run at Darlington, either. He had a top-eight average running position in all three races here last year. At this point, we should just start auto-betting Bowman at tracks with heavy tire wear. Darlington is the first place you think of there, making almost any market viable for him on Sunday.
Joey Logano to Win Group Two (+350)
This bet is a good way to hedge in case Darlington skews heavily toward the 750 tracks. Joey Logano has been tremendous there this year with a win in Bristol, podiums in Phoenix and Martinsville, and no finishes worse than sixth. He was also runner-up at the Daytona road course in this package, though that's more of a cherry on top that we're not going to count in his favor for this track, specifically.
Because of that, Logano ranks second in this group in my model's projected average running position. Here's each driver's standing there plus their odds to win the group.
|Group Two||Projected ARP||Odds|
Basically, things are even across the board with a slight lean toward Logano and Elliott. Even if we treated everyone as being on equal footing, Logano's odds to win would be +300. At minimum, we're getting that much of an edge here, and there's the potential for even more.
Darlington has never been Logano's best track, which is why I'm wary of betting him for an outright or podium. But he was runner-up (behind Brad Keselowski) here in 2018, the last time they ran a high-horsepower package at the track. If you want exposure to Logano via the 750-horsepower narrative, this seems to be the best route for doing so.
Christopher Bell Over Ryan Blaney (-102)
This one's more about fading Ryan Blaney than it is riding Christopher Bell. Whatever your logic, Bell grades out well here.
Blaney is typically a darling in this piece, but there are some tracks where he just doesn't have it. Darlington is one of them. He has never finished better than 13th here. Even last year -- when his form was solid -- his best finish in three races was 16th.
Bell was just middling at this track in the Xfinity Series, and he didn't blow anyone's doors off last year in the Cup Series. But he has been good in the 750 package this year with three top-10s, including a fourth at Richmond, and this team won with Erik Jones at Darlington in 2019. Bell would likely need something to go wrong to finish behind Blaney, allowing us to plug this one in at -102.