NASCAR Betting Guide: Quaker State 400
With one trip to the reconfigured Atlanta in the books, we know what to expect this weekend. And it's largely in line with what we thought the track would look like going in.
This spring's NASCAR Cup Series race in Atlanta very much acted like the blend of a superspeedway and a 1.5-mile track. There was drafting and chaos, but equipment still seemed to matter a bit, and the wrecks weren't quite as plentiful. That seemed to be NASCAR's goal, so we shouldn't be surprised that's how it played out.
This week for the Quaker State 400, temperatures will be higher, which will put a higher emphasis on handling. That -- if anything -- would push the needle a bit more toward a 1.5-mile track, though I'm not expecting a ton of movement there. We can play things pretty similar to the first trip.
Doing so does leave some value on the board for pre-qualifying bets.
My model is treating this race as 70% superspeedway, 30% 1.5-mile track. Some lower-end cars can compete, but we should still expect the top teams to be the primary competitors for the checkered flag.
Which values emerge with this mindset? Let's dig in now based on NASCAR odds at FanDuel Sportsbook for Atlanta.
Christopher Bell to Win (+2000)
Outside of Kyle Busch, the Toyotas didn't qualify all that well in the first Atlanta race. Thus, you could hold off on betting them in hopes of getting a better number after Saturday's qualifying session. It's an approach I'd love to take with Busch, himself, who's showing as a slim value right now.
But with Christopher Bell, I'd rather not wait.
My model has Bell winning 6.6% of the time, up from his implied odds of 4.8%. That's a big gap that we don't see too often. If I were to miss out on it in hopes of a better post-qualifying number, I'd beat myself up. So we'll just lock this in now.
Bell grades out well because he has constantly been running up front at pack races since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. In seven races, he has had a top-12 average running position in all but one.
On the 1.5-mile tracks, Bell has consecutive top-fives in Kansas and Charlotte, and he was 10th in Vegas, as well. He's got the equipment to hang if it skews toward a 1.5-miler, and he has shown a propensity for being in the hunt at superspeedways. I'll take that at +2000 for sure.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Podium (+1100)
A spot that's a blend of a 1.5-mile track and a superspeedway should set up perfectly for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. We saw the fruits of that marriage in the first Atlanta race.
There, Stenhouse was top five in the first stage and led 22 laps. He would have led more had he not wrecked while leading during the second stage.
That came after Stenhouse was also top-five in both Daytona stages and led 16 laps there.
JTG-Daugherty Racing has had the speed to run well on the 1.5-mile tracks, too. Stenhouse has had a top-8 finish in 2 of 3 races at 1.5-mile tracks, and he had a top-14 average running position in all of them.
This track was effectively made for him.
My model has Stenhouse on the podium 11.3% of the time, up from his implied odds of 8.3%. The data here backs up the narrative that Atlanta should suit Stenhouse well, and I'll happily buy in because of that.
Ty Dillon to Finish Top 10 (+650)
Of Ty Dillon's seven career top-10 finishes in the Cup Series, five have come on superspeedways. That's on top of a pair of 11th-place finishes, one each at Daytona and Talladega. He could do it again this week.
One of those 11th-place finishes came this year in Daytona. That was Dillon's first race with Petty/GMS, arguably the best equipment he has had his entire career, based on the success of his teammate, Erik Jones.
Dillon hasn't come close to duplicating Jones' success, so there is a clear gap between the two. But it means that Dillon's equipment shouldn't hold him back at a track that suits his style.
We didn't get to see that in the first Atlanta race. There, Dillon -- despite starting 18th -- didn't run a single lap in the top 15 and crashed out on lap 101. It was superbly underwhelming.
He did, though, crank out a 13th-place finish at Charlotte thanks to weaving his way through plenty of chaos. My model has Dillon in the top 10 19.1% of the time, up from his implied odds of 13.3%. It's a leap of faith, but Dillon's history says it's not one that's too outlandish.
Weekend Addition: Kyle Busch to Win (+1300)
As mentioned in the Bell blurb, I was hoping Kyle Busch would lengthen after qualifying. Even with qualifying rained out, he did, to +1300 from +1200. That's enough for me to buy in.
My simulations have Busch winning 7.7% of the time, up from his implied odds of 7.1%. That's pretty thin value, but I do buy into the logic here.
Busch constantly runs up front at superspeedways. He led 21 laps in the first Atlanta race this year before a crash, and he has had a top-9 average running position in 3 of 7 other pack races since the start of last year.
In the past, Busch hadn't converted that into good finishes. He has this year, though, with a sixth in Daytona despite a beat-up car and a third in Talladega. I think the Toyotas overall are undervalued today, so I'll happily add Busch to the previous bet on Bell.
Weekend Addition: Joey Logano Over Tyler Reddick (-118)
I would shop around on this because you can find a better number (down to -110) elsewhere. But if -118 is the best you can get, there's still an edge to betting Joey Logano over Tyler Reddick.
The more this race skews toward a superspeedway, the more things favor Logano. In 15 drafting races since the start of 2019, Logano has 9 top-9 average running positions. Some of those have ended in crunched fenders, but that's just the nature of the beast.
Reddick has 12 superspeedway races in that time. Only 3 have resulted in finishes better than 20th, and his best average running position is 13th.
If this were a strict 1.5-mile track, Reddick would hold the edge. He also did have success on this track type in the Xfinity Series. But Logano's one of the best in the draft, and we should favor him by a decent chunk here as a result.