NASCAR Betting Guide: NASCAR All-Star Race
Normally, betting a driver at +350 to win in a wacky format would be fairly idiotic. It's 22.2% implied odds in a situation and a rules package in which we don't know how things will play out. That's a lot of uncertainty to take on.
But Kyle Larson's 2021 has been far from normal.
Larson enters Sunday's All-Star Race having won two straight races and three total, and he'll start Sunday's race on the pole. That doesn't matter a ton due to the three inverts that'll occur during the race, but we have no doubts that he's the guy to beat.
And he honestly might still present some value.
Let's run through why Larson brings appeal -- even at +350 at FanDuel Sportsbook -- and then discuss some other bets that stand out for Sunday's race.
Kyle Larson to Win (+350)
Even though Larson's win odds are crazy short, my win simulations are actually showing the slightest bit of value here. And it's possible my numbers are underselling him.
As mentioned, the implied odds at +350 are 22.2%. My simulations have him winning 22.3% of the time, the only driver higher than 9.3% for the event. So, it's short, but it's fully justified.
The reason the numbers love him is what he has done in the 550-horsepower package this year. He has had a top-five average running position in all five non-drafting races, including a first-place mark twice. It's worth noting that this is a modified version of that package with even less horsepower, but those races are likely our best corollaries for what to expect on Sunday.
Two factors not directly baked into my numbers that will play a key role this week are restarts and passing on the 550 tracks. With a minimum of five starts or restarts across 100 laps, restarts will be more important than usual. You'll also need to be able to pass due to the inverts. It just so happens that Larson grades out well in both departments, based on the numbers at Motorsports Analytics. If we bump up drivers in those categories from the baseline, Larson will look even better than he does straight up.
Larson has been the driver to beat all season long, and he's clearly that again on Sunday. His skills should allow him to benefit from the format rather than be hindered by it. So even at such a short number, it's far from a bad idea to ride with Larson and hope the dominance continues.
Brad Keselowski to Win (+1800)
Admittedly, my simulations are not as keen on Brad Keselowski, and they don't like him at this number. His simulated odds are 4.0% compared to 5.3% implied at +1800. A couple underlying factors push me to go against that, though, and bet him to win.
The first is that we have seen Keselowski run well on similar tracks. Both Las Vegas and Kansas feature reduced tire wear (similar to Texas), and Keselowski's average running position was fourth at both tracks. He converted both of those runs into podium finishes.
Second, Keselowski has been the best restarter in the sport this year, gaining a whopping 29 spots across 31 restarts inside the top 14 in races using the choose rule, per Motorsports Analytics. The increased restart volume is huge for Keselowski's outlook.
Finally, if the modified package does skew the action more toward pack racing, Keselowski will know how to get the job done. He won in Talladega earlier in the year and is among the best drafters in the sport. I'm not assuming that will happen (otherwise I wouldn't be as high on Larson), but it's something that's within the range of outcomes.
Keselowski lacks consistency, but he's got the upside necessary to pull off a win. If you're looking for someone with somewhat longer odds to pull off an upset, Keselowski might be the one to get the job done.
William Byron to Podium (+320)
You've got a couple routes for getting exposure to William Byron (+1300 to win). My simulations do show value in his outright (9.1% simulated versus 7.1% implied), and he's the highest-ranked driver in Group 2 for me, making his +260 odds to win it enticing. But the best value seems to lie here in Byron to podium.
The implied odds at +320 are 23.8%; my sims have Byron finishing in the top three 28.3% of the time. He's up there thanks to a third-place average running position in Charlotte two weeks ago, a win in Homestead, and a top-seven average running position in both Atlanta and Vegas. He has been outstanding in the 550-horsepower package this year, but the markets still seem skeptical.
Your view of Byron depends on your view of Larson. If you think Larson is overvalued, then betting Byron's outright is less daunting. If you -- like me -- think Larson is deserving of the short odds, then a podium bet provides you a workaround (as does the group betting). Either way, I'd try to find some way to get action on Byron, and the podium bet is the one that stands out most to me.
Austin Dillon Over Christopher Bell (+104)
Austin Dillon and Christopher Bell have similar flaws for this race: they're not great restarters. That means we can focus more on raw speed, and weirdly enough, that should put us on Dillon.
Across the three non-drafting races with the 550-horsepower package, Dillon has had the better average running position than Bell three times. That includes two weeks ago in Charlotte when Dillon had an eighth-place average running position and finished sixth.
Dillon also seems to love this track type. He is a former winner in Charlotte, and he got the win at this same track last year thanks to some nifty pit strategy late in the race. He followed that up with a 10th-place average running position in the fall.
My model pings Dillon's projected average finish at 10.07, two spots better than Bell's at 12.31. We should take the plus money and bet Dillon at a track he clearly likes.