NASCAR Betting Guide: Federated Auto Parts 400

Martin Truex Jr. has won two of the past four Richmond races and had great speed last week in Darlington. Should we bet him to win the Federated Auto Parts 400?

This is not the week to bet longshots.

Usually, when I run my simulations, there'll be at least one longer-shot who shows a bit of value. For example, last week, both Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman had better simulated odds than their implied odds at +2400 and +2100, respectively. If you wanted to have some fun, you could justify taking looks there.

This week, nobody longer than +1300 is showing even a smidge of value. It's a race where we want to live at the top.

Luckily, we've got options there who are undervalued even with short odds. If you want to check out under-the-radar options, that's where matchup and group bets come into play.

So, who exactly is grading out well based on the odds at NASCAR odds? Let's take a look.

Martin Truex Jr. to Win (+550)

The top of the board depends on some price-shopping. At FanDuel, Denny Hamlin is +600. I can justify him there. However, he's +650 at DraftKings, meaning FanDuel isn't the spot to bet Hamlin.

It is, though, a great place to snag his teammate, Martin Truex Jr.

My win simulations technically favor Hamlin, putting him in victory lane 17.0% of the time compared to Truex at 15.9%. However, I think my numbers are underrating Truex. He had to work his way through the field roughly 97 times in Darlington and still could have won the race had he not sped on pit road late. He still managed to finish fourth, but some of the underlying numbers there make him look more middling.

Even with the sims (in my estimation) underselling Truex, they're still showing slight value (15.9% versus 15.4% implied). It makes sense, too. Truex won at both Phoenix and Martinsville this year (short, flat tracks like Richmond), and he has led 100-plus laps in 7 of the past 9 Richmond races. He won two of those -- both in 2019.

If you can find Hamlin at longer than +600, I'm fine going there. But +550 is a mighty fair number for such a good driver in Truex, so I'll go slightly against the simulations and make Truex my preferred option based on the odds at FanDuel.

Kevin Harvick to Win (+1300)

I honestly cannot recall the last time I bet Kevin Harvick to win. It was clear early on that 2021 was going to be rough, and it's hard to correct course in-season with how grueling the schedule is.

I'm on board this week, though.

Harvick's projected average running position in my model is the third-best it has been all season. One of the others was early in the season before the lack of speed became fully evident.

Recently, though, things have ticked back up. Harvick's best average running position of the entire year came in New Hampshire, the last race we saw at a short, flat track. Harvick also led 66 laps, more than he has led the rest of the year combined. It's also encouraging that his teammate, Aric Almirola (+3100 to win), is the guy who won the race.

Richmond isn't Harvick's best track. He hasn't won there since 2013, and he has been outside the top five in three straight. He did have a seventh-place average running position in the spring, though, and he has led at least 30 laps in 3 of the past 5 Richmond races. This is a spot where I will trust the sims and take the Harvick outright.

Christopher Bell to Win Group Three (+230)

Group three is a spicy one, featuring Christopher Bell, William Byron, Alex Bowman, and Ryan Blaney. But based on past races on short, flat tracks, we should still feel good about betting Bell to top them all.

The Cup Series has run four races on short, flat tracks thus far. Here's each driver's aggregate average running position in those races along with their odds to win the group.

Group ThreeAgg. ARPOdds to Win Group
Christopher Bell8.8+230
William Byron10.3+250
Alex Bowman12.5+250
Ryan Blaney6.3+300

Based on that, you'd want to bet Blaney at +300. But Blaney's 11th-place finish here in the spring was his first time ever notching a top-15 in Richmond, making this easily his worst track on the schedule.

Bell has no such issues. He turned an eighth-place average running position into a fourth-place finish. That was behind Bowman, who won the race, but Bell has finished ahead of Bowman in all other races on short, flat tracks.

My model ranks Bell 8th in projected average running position while the other three are all 10th or lower. It's the most favorably it has viewed Bell all year, so we should take advantage and bet him to win this group.

Joey Logano Over Kyle Busch (-110)

It wouldn't be a full betting card for me at a 750-horsepower track without putting some money on Joey Logano. Logano runs great at Richmond, so you could bet him outright at +950. I just think this is the best market for him.

The reasoning is that Logano has beaten up on Kyle Busch at this track type all year long. In the four races at short, flat tracks, Logano's worst finish is sixth; Busch's best finish is eighth.

If we expand that to all oval tracks to use the 750-horsepower package, Logano has topped Busch in eight of nine races. The lone exception was the first Darlington race, and even there, Logano had a better average running position.

It's clear that Logano's team has emphasized the 750-horsepower package this year while Busch's has skewed heavily toward the 550 races. The odds aren't accounting for that, so we should profit off of the oversight.