NASCAR

NASCAR Betting Guide: Hollywood Casino 400

William Byron showed last week that he can contend for wins despite no longer being in the playoffs. Does that make him a betting value at Kansas for the Hollywood Casino 400?

All good things must come to an end. Today, friends, we bid adieu to our profitable partner for the past few weeks.

The value on Kyle Larson outrights is gone.

The past two weeks, we've been able to bet Larson at longer numbers than the market at FanDuel Sportsbook. And the best number was the right number in both circumstances as Larson won each race.

It seems they've had enough of that. Larson's outright odds are down to +260 this week for the Hollywood Casino 400. He's still the favorite to win in my simulations, but his 27.9% odds there are almost exactly in line with his 27.8% implied odds.

Mourn. Shed a tear. Take some time if you must. It's only fair after losing such a comforting outlet.

That doesn't mean all hope is lost for this week. Sure, Larson does suck up a healthy portion of the win odds, which makes the outright margins thinner this week. But there are still some spots that show value.

Which bets should we make based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook? Let's run through that now and wipe those lost Larson tears with some winning betslips.

William Byron to Win (+1200)

Outside of the slimmest of margins on Larson, my simulations are showing outright value on just two drivers this week: William Byron and Brad Keselowski. Both have their flaws and red flags, but it seems as if the numbers are fully accounting for that.

With Byron, the flaw is that he's no longer in the playoffs. We tend to see those drivers dominate these races as they've got the most on the line and may get more room for error from competitors.

That didn't impact Byron last week, though. There, he was the one guy in the field who could keep pace with Larson. Byron had a second-place average running position and finished there after leading 55 laps.

Byron has shown he can handle the two key characteristics of Kansas: low tire falloff and reduced banking. The banking is similar in Homestead, where Byron won earlier this year. The low tire falloff overlaps with last week in Texas and his fourth-place finish in Charlotte.

Thanks to those races, my simulations have Byron winning 9.1% of the time, a good chunk above his implied odds of 7.7%. He ranks fourth in my model's projected average running position, allowing us to bet Byron despite his flaws.

Brad Keselowski to Win (+1900)

Between the two, Keselowski has more red flags. He's on his way out of Team Penske, and it has seemingly led to a performance dip in the second half of the year.

It just feels like this number takes the downgrade too far.

Before I adjust for Keselowski's circumstances, he ranks third in my model's projected average running position, trailing just Larson and Denny Hamlin (+650). He sits there thanks to a blend of good speed on the 1.5-mile tracks this year and good history in Kansas.

Keselowski is a two-time Kansas winner, including one in the current rules package in 2019. Since then, he has finished within the top four three times, including a podium finish here in the spring after leading 72 laps.

Keselowski had a runner-up earlier in the year in Las Vegas, another 1.5-mile track with reduced banking and low tire wear. Since the announcement he'd be leaving Team Penske at the end of the year, Keselowski has finished seventh and fourth at 1.5-mile tracks, which doesn't exactly scream upside. But it also means he's not totally out to lunch.

With Keselowski, we're still getting a good driver, and he's still in the playoff hunt. Even if Team Penske is freezing him out of meetings, they're not going to give him a lemon and pass up a shot at a championship. As such, I think it's time to reverse course a bit, bet Keselowski at this number, and hope he still has the equipment to pull off an upset.

Tyler Reddick Over Kevin Harvick (-106)

Both Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick have seen their performance improve as the season has gone along. This seems like a pretty tight matchup entering Texas, but I'm having a hard time saying no to highly flexible financial exposure to Reddick.

Reddick's speed on these tracks lately has been undeniable. He has had a top-10 average running position and a top-10 finish in 5 straight races on 1.5-mile tracks. That includes last week in Texas when he was up front the entire day but faded a bit to finish ninth.

That's the concern with Reddick: that he won't convert the speed into a top-end finish. For Harvick, it's the opposite; he's still crafty despite reduced speed this year.

For the full season, this matchup is tied, 4-4, across 8 races on 1.5-mile tracks. But Reddick has held the edge in the more recent races, and he's a perfect stylistic fit for Kansas given its banking similarities to his playground in Homestead. That's enough for me to take the dive and bet Reddick at -106 in what should be a fun matchup.

Alex Bowman Over Christopher Bell (+102)

Christopher Bell's speed last week in Texas was super impressive. It was easily the best he has looked at a 1.5-mile track this year.

The broader picture, though, tells us that Alex Bowman is undervalued here.

Across the 8 races at 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman holds the head-to-head edge, 6-2. In both of the exceptions, Bowman was caught up in an incident -- something we shouldn't hold against him.

Bowman has a nice history in Kansas, as well. He nearly won here back in 2019 and finished third in last year's playoff race. Bell's best finish on a 1.5-mile track with banking similar to Kansas was a seventh-place run at Las Vegas this spring. As such, even with last week's impressive speed for Bell, we should still prefer Bowman -- especially if we're getting plus money to do so.