NASCAR Betting Guide: Goodyear 400
Entering Darlington, my key question for the NASCAR Cup Series is a simple one:
How much longer does Ross Chastain need to dominate before we accept he’s legit?
To an extent, bookmakers are giving Chastain respect. He’s +1200 to win the Goodyear 400 at NASCAR odds, which amounts to 7.7% implied win odds. That’s certainly not nothing!
But with how well Chastain has run this year, I still think it’s underselling him.
That makes Chastain a key focal point for betting Sunday’s race prior to Saturday’s on-track time. Let’s run through what makes Chastain such an interesting bet and then run through some others who stand out entering the weekend.
Ross Chastain to Win (+1200)
(UPDATE: Chastain has since lengthened to +1300. Obviously, it's not ideal to have a number move against us. It is a bit curious, though, given Chastain qualified eighth and was eighth in five-lap average during the lone practice session. My simulations did sour a bit on him, as well, with others rising, but he's still at 8.5% to win versus 7.1% implied at the new number. Despite the poor movement, I'd be comfortable betting him at +1300.)
You know what Chastain has done this year. He has won twice (on a road course and a superspeedway), and he has run well pretty much everywhere else.
We should expect that to continue this week.
The justification for the optimism comes from last year’s fall Darlington race. There, Chastain started 23rd but quickly worked his way forward. He got points in the first stage and was third at the end of the second stage.
Chastain went on to finish that race in third and held a ninth-place average running position. It came a year after Chastain was runner-up at this track in the Xfinity Series, as well, showing it wasn’t a one-race fluke. Chastain can get around this place when his equipment is good enough.
We’ve gotten confirmation of that this year, as well. As a result, my win simulations have Chastain in victory lane 9.4% of the time, up from the implied mark of 7.7%. That’s the biggest gap of any driver in the field. It may feel like you’re buying high, but with sportsbooks being relatively slow to buy into Chastain, it’s still a quality bet right now.
Tyler Reddick to Win (+2000)
(UPDATE: Reddick has since shortened to +1700 to win.)
Unlike Chastain, we don’t have strong finishes to support backing Tyler Reddick. His best Cup Series finish at Darlington is seventh. But he has shown speed during the races, enough to where he’s a value, as well.
In last year's two Darlington races, Reddick finished 12th and 18th. It's about as mediocre as you can get.
Reddick's speed was better than that, though. He won points in three of four stages, including a third-place finish in the opening stage in the spring. His average running position was inside the top 10 both races. He just wasn't there at the end.
There are two reasons that should be enough to entice us. First, Reddick ran well here in the Xfinity Series, finishing on the podium in two of four races, including a 2019 race in which he led nearly half the laps.
Second, this track fits Reddick's style perfectly. He loves to ride the wall and can maintain speed even after the tires lose grip. Darlington tends to suit dirt racers well, meaning this should be a spot where Reddick contends.
Due to the 2021 speed and Reddick's runs this year, my sims have him at 5.5% to win the race, up from 4.8% implied odds. We're getting a big enough discount here where I don't need to see quality finishes before I take a bite at the outright.
Joey Logano to Finish Top 10 (-110)
(UPDATE: Logano has since shortened to -190 to finish top 10.)
For whatever reason, the hold in the top-10 market this week is much lower than usual. It's roughly half what it was for Richmond about a month ago. It has led to my numbers showing at least one percentage point of value on four different drivers:
- Kyle Larson at -300 (79.1% for me versus 75.0% implied)
- Chase Elliott at -190 (68.4% for me versus 65.5% implied)
- Alex Bowman at -120 (57.0% for me versus 54.6% implied)
- Joey Logano at -110 (60.1% for me versus 52.4% implied)
I'm going to pick off Logano here because he is both the longest odds and the biggest value, but all four of those drivers are in play. Bask in the discount the book is giving you for this race.
My numbers always tend to over-estimate Logano, but that's moreso in outrights than other markets. Here, his consistency is the selling point rather than the thing that pushes him too far upward.
In 5 Darlington races the past 2 seasons, Logano has 3 top-10 finishes (a 60% clip). His worst average running position in that bunch was 12th, and he was top-10 in the other 4. It's worth noting, though, that the three 2020 races were run with a higher-downforce package while the 2021 races were in a lower-downforce package.
Logano has also been solid in relevant races this year with a top-10 average running position in Fontana, Richmond, and Bristol (all tracks that were slick, whether due to tire falloff or dirt).
In other words, Logano's constantly lurking. It may not be enough to get him a win, but it can get him top-10s. We've got plenty of cushion to be off the mark and still have value, as well, making Logano my favorite bet in a pretty favorable market for this week.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Tyler Reddick to Podium (+550)
Reddick's outright odds did shorten from when we discussed them earlier in the week (+2000 to +1700 after qualifying). People caught onto the speed he showed in practice. But he's still undervalued in the podium market.
After qualifying, I've got Reddick to podium 18.7% of the time versus 15.4% implied at this number. That's bigger than the gap in his outright (6.3% now versus 5.6% at +1700), making this the better-value route to betting Reddick.
If you've already bet Reddick's outright, I'd keep a lower unit size than you'd usually put on a +550 bet just so that you're not over-exposed to a single driver. But I'd still bet it in that scenario, and this is a great value spot if you haven't yet bought into Reddick.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Larson to Win Group 1 (+240)
My numbers are actually showing a bit of value on Kyle Larson's outright down at +500. That's how much they like him.
But betting him to win this group gives me much more flexibility at a very reasonable price.
Larson was already high in my model entering the weekend with win odds around 14.7%. But he ranked sixth in five-lap averages during practice and fifth in 10-lap average before qualifying second. He had the speed we expected.
The rest of this group is Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott. Hamlin and Elliott will start in the rear of the field with Truex starting fourth. Truex didn't have the same speed in practice as Larson. It's worth noting that older drivers' practice times aren't as predictive as those of younger drivers, so it shouldn't cross Truex off, but I'd rather a driver be fast than slow to be sure.
If you want to bet Larson's outright at +500, I say go for it. It's not a bad bet by any means. I just prefer this as my Larson exposure route when it's on the table.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Chase Elliott Over Denny Hamlin (-110)
My numbers were high on Elliott entering the week due to his quality current form. Then, he wrecked during practice on Saturday sending him to the back to start. It hurt his top-10 odds in my model and took away value there.
This is the one spot where we can still get exposure to him, though.
Hamlin will be starting in the back alongside Elliott after changing out the rear piece in his car on Saturday. It's his primary car still while Elliott is in a backup, so that part favors Hamlin, but they'll at least start side-by-side.
The one thing Elliott did do prior to the wreck was prove he could handle the Next-Gen car at this track. He was seventh in five-lap average and fourth in 10-lap while Hamlin was outside the top 10 in both metrics. There's value in that, even if it was in a different car.
As mentioned, Elliott does get penalized in my numbers for starting in the back. But so does Hamlin. And my numbers were high on Elliott for a reason coming in. That puts me on Elliott here even with the risk of his being in a backup car.