NASCAR Betting Guide: Toyota/Save Mart 350
If you want to win an outright on a road course, you had better make sure the driver can beat Chase Elliott (+200 at FanDuel Sportsbook) and Martin Truex Jr. (+400). That's a short checklist, but it isn't an easy one.
After a win two weeks ago at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), Elliott has now won five of seven road-course races since the start of 2019. Truex was one of the exceptions, and he's the two-time defending champ at Sonoma, where this week's Toyota/Save Mart 350 will be held.
These two drivers are superpowers on these tracks. We need to account for that with our betting cards.
When I run my simulations for this event, I have Truex winning 16.2% of the time with Elliott at 14.2%. Unless I pull some questionable data tactics, it's hard to move those numbers higher than they are, and that's not high enough to bet them at FanDuel Sportsbook.
I know that -- in reality -- the win odds for those two drivers are higher than that. So, if I'm going to bet an outright on anybody this weekend, I need a whole lotta value on them to account for the missing odds with Truex and Elliott.
I do think we have that with one guy, and he's featured here today. But outside of him, it's a good week to look at alternative markets to try to guard yourself from the two juggernauts.
Who gives us betting value for Sunday in Sonoma after accounting for our big hurdles? Let's check it out.
Joey Logano to Win (+1600)
Joey Logano has proven the past year that he can push for wins on road courses. He just hasn't gotten over the hump yet. This number is underselling him a decent amount, allowing us to bet his outright even with Truex and Elliott lurking.
Logano enters Sunday having finished on the podium in four straight road-course races, if you count the Busch Clash at the Daytona roval. He has had a top-eight average running position in all three of the points-paying races in that time, so he's not lucking his way into good finishes; he's just running up front all day.
This isn't a small-sample surge for Logano, either. He won at Watkins Glen back in 2015 and was third in Sonoma in 2016. He's just not quite on the level of Truex and Elliott, but this number fully reflects that.
Logano also has the form we want. He has had a top-nine average running position in every race using the 750-horsepower package this year, the only driver who can claim such a feat. That stretch includes a win at Bristol and four top-five average running positions, one of which came at the Daytona roval.
Logano's win odds in my simulations are 8.6% compared to 5.9% implied at this number. Even after we lower him to allocate more win equity to Truex and Elliott, Logano still has wiggle room. My simulations are showing value on Logano to podium (+400) and finish top-10 (-175), as well, so you have multiple routes for betting him. But he's the one guy I feel confident in betting straight up versus Truex and Elliott this week.
Denny Hamlin to Podium (+275)
Part of the reason for being in on Logano was his form in the 750-horsepower package. The other guy who grades out like a gem there is Denny Hamlin. For Hamlin, I'll take the coward's way out and bet him to podium to give myself cushion against the top two guys.
Hamlin has had a top-four average running position in all but two races using the 750 package this year. One of the exceptions was at COTA, where Hamlin just didn't have it and finished 14th. But that's not an indictment on his road-course abilities.
Hamlin -- like Logano -- has a knack for being in the mix behind Truex and Elliott. He finished third at Daytona this year and second there last year. He has had a top-five average running position in three of seven road-course races since the start of 2019, and he has four top-five finishes in that same span.
My simulations have Hamlin's outright dead even with what's implied (9.1% simulated versus 9.1% implied at +1000). But the podium is a bit undervalued (28.3% simulated versus 26.7% implied). That makes this the preferred route to taking advantage of Hamlin's combination of current form and road-course history.
Chris Buescher to Finish Top 10 (+220)
Chris Buescher has one career top-10 finish on a road course. That seems less than ideal if you're betting him to do it at +220 this week. But this is shaping up to be Buescher's career year thus far, and he has been knocking on the doorstep on these tracks his entire career.
Buescher has four top-10s this year through 15 races. That's halfway to the eight he had last year, and that number was double his previous career high. Buescher is earning those finishes, too, with four top-12 average running positions. That's something he had done just three times the previous two years combined.
Even before this, Buescher was competitive on road courses. Buescher has two top-13 finishes in Watkins Glen and one in Sonoma. Those all came before he joined Roush-Fenway Racing, and Buescher hasn't been to Sonoma since joining his current team.
It's safe to say the RFR equipment has been an upgrade for Buescher. He has three top-13 finishes in four road-course races with RFR, including a fifth-place run last year in Daytona. That's why the "one top-10" stat is misleading; he has five other finishes just outside that mark, and he's constantly lurking now that he has feistier equipment.
Buescher will start 12th on Sunday, giving him easy access to the top-10. At +220, we should buy into a sneaky good history for Buescher on this track type.
Ryan Preece to Finish Top 10 (+500)
I tried betting Ryan Preece to finish inside the top 10 at COTA. It didn't work, so I'm sure you are all thrilled to see him here again.
But the logic behind betting Preece has only gotten stronger since, and his top-10 odds are even longer.
Although Preece didn't finish top-10, he had a good run at COTA. He had a 12th-place average running position and finished 15th. Nine drivers had a top-12 average running position at COTA. All the others have top-10 odds of +220 or shorter this week, and only four are longer than even money. Preece lengthened from +470 prior to COTA to +500 this week. That doesn't make a ton of sense.
It wasn't just COTA, either. Preece now has a top-15 average running position in two of the past three road-course races, and he had some impressive runs in the Xfinity Series, as well. We should take advantage of the lengthened number on Preece and bet him once again.