NASCAR Betting Guide: Quaker State 400
Yet again, our dilemma returns for betting outrights in the NASCAR Cup Series.
If you wanna win, you gotta beat Kyle Larson. And, buddy, that ain't easy.
The first time they were in Atlanta this year, Larson led 269 of 325 laps. He lost the lead late to Ryan Blaney, but we've seen Larson close the deal plenty of times since. He's a massive obstacle.
Unfortunately, we can't just bet Larson himself. He's at 20.9% win odds in my simulations (nobody else is higher than 8.8%), but his implied odds at +260 at FanDuel Sportsbook are 27.8%. I can't get there myself, meaning if I want to bet an outright, I'm inherently betting against someone I expect to win one-fifth of the time.
That means we'll have to be selective. Luckily, there are two drivers I think have plenty of juice here and could potentially rip the checkered flag out of Larson's grips.
William Byron to Win (+1400)
If someone's going to knock off Larson, it's likely to be one of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. They've combined to win seven of the past eight races, and it has been someone other than Larson in four of those.
None of those wins were by William Byron. But Byron did win earlier in the year, and it came at a key track.
Byron's win came in Homestead all the way back in February. The reason that matters for this week is that both Homestead and Atlanta feature heavy tire falloff and the 550-horsepower package. Byron also had a seventh-place average running position in the first Atlanta race, which isn't too shabby.
Byron ranks second behind Larson in aggregate average running position in the 550-horsepower package on non-drafting tracks, and he remains second if we narrow that to the three races with heavy tire falloff (Homestead, Kansas, and Atlanta). That's why my simulations have Byron winning 8.0% of the time this week, up from his implied odds of 6.7%. Keeping things in the Hendrick Motorsports stable should help us sleep easier as we look to fade Larson.
Tyler Reddick to Win (+8500)
I'm not a huge fan of betting longshots on 1.5-mile tracks where speed is such a big factor. It narrows the pool of drivers who can realistically contend, meaning drivers with long odds are likely there for a reason.
But Tyler Reddick is similar to Byron in that he has already beaten Larson on a similar track this year.
That for Reddick -- like Byron -- came in Homestead. There, Reddick was patient for the entire race, ensuring his equipment remained unscathed. Then he ratcheted up the intensity over the final stage, worked his way forward, and finished runner-up behind Byron. Larson was fourth in that race.
Reddick ran well in Kansas, too. He had a 10th-place average running position and finished seventh. That Kansas run kick-started a stretch where Reddick now has three top-11 average running positions in the past four races utilizing the 550-horsepower package.
Reddick never won in Atlanta in either the Xfinity Series or Camping World Truck Series, but it does seem to fit within his typical strengths. His implied odds are 1.2%, but my simulations have him winning 2.2% of the time. That may not seem like much, but it's enough where I'll take a swipe and see what happens.
Ryan Blaney Over Chase Elliott (+104)
Here, we're betting against Hendrick, which seems not great, Bob. But Blaney showed in March that he can take down Goliath on the right tracks, and this seems to be one of them.
Overall, the Cup Series has run three races at 1.5-mile tracks with heavy tire falloff. Blaney has the win in Atlanta, but he also had a better average running position than Chase Elliott in Kansas. Blaney leads Elliott in aggregate average running position in the 550-horsepower package (11.1 vs. 13.0), at 1.5-mile tracks (10.4 vs. 11.4), and at heavy-falloff 1.5-mile tracks (9.7 vs. 14.0). A good chunk of that is due to engine issues Elliott had in the first Atlanta race, but he also had average running positions of 12th or worse in Vegas, Homestead, and both Pocono races.
Elliott's upside means he's more likely to win than Blaney. He's at 8.2% there versus Blaney's mark of 7.7%. But Blaney has consistently shown speed at tracks similar to Atlanta, so in a head-to-head environment, Blaney's the guy we should side with.