NASCAR Betting Guide: Ambetter 301

Chase Elliott has won three races the past 2.5 months and was strong at short, flat tracks earlier in the year. Can he notch a series-leading fourth win at New Hampshire?

In general, we should be reluctant to buy into a heater when placing our bets.

If a performer is pumping out elite-level results, the odds are high that they're due for regression. It takes a decently large sample to prove you're several standard deviations above the field, and we're not going to get that in a stretch considered a heater.

So, if you find yourself gravitating toward a bet that relies on an outlier-ish span, it's fair to take a second and consider if it's actually a good bet.

Even with that consideration, I'm having a hard time not loving Chase Elliott this week at New Hampshire.

Elliott won last week in Atlanta, giving him three wins since the start of May. He's now the favorite to win the Cup Series championship at FanDuel Sportsbook.

I still think he's undervalued.

Let's lay out the logic behind continuing to buy Elliott for this week's Ambetter 301 and then dive into other bets that stand out at FanDuel. I'll circle back and add more here when more markets are added and after qualifying on Saturday.

Chase Elliott to Win (+900)

(UPDATE: Elliott has since shortened to +700 to win. However, thanks to strong runs in practice and qualifying, my model has his win odds up to 15.1%. That means there's still value on the new number if you didn't dive in earlier.)

The implied odds here are 10.0%. My simulations have Elliott winning 12.5% of the time, second in the field behind just Ryan Blaney (13.3%). I don't think we're overvaluing the recent wins.

Let's just toss the wins out entirely and focus on the three races earlier in the year on short, flat tracks. In those, Elliott's average running positions were 4th, 10th, and 4th, respectively. The only drivers with a better aggregate average running position across those three races were Blaney and William Byron (both at 5.0 versus Elliott's mark of 6.0). Byron's form has sputtered a bit of late, which is why I'm not as high on him. But Blaney and Elliott have continued to push for wins.

The one concern with Elliott is that Hendrick Motorsports did struggle mightily at Gateway, another flat track. However, Elliott bounced back at Nashville and won the race, and the banking is low there, as well.

Once you toss in the early-season runs on the flat tracks, I feel comfortable not pushing him down too much due to Gateway. Elliott led 53 laps in New Hampshire last year, so in this instance, I'm more than okay buying high on the sport's most popular driver.

Chris Buescher to Finish Top 10 (+370)

There's a group of three drivers with +370 odds to finish in the top 10 that my model thinks are undervalued: Chris Buescher, Erik Jones, and Austin Dillon. The highest-ranked guy of that group is Buescher, so I'm going to lock him in now.

Buescher did notch a top-10 finish earlier this year in Phoenix. That was a bit fluky as his average running position was 18th, but he did have strong runs at other correlated tracks. Buescher had a top-15 average running position in Richmond, Martinsville, and Nashville, as well.

I don't think we should fully ignore Buescher's recent strength on road courses, either. New Hampshire requires heavy off-throttle time and will likely feature shifting, two key staples of road courses. Buescher nearly won Sonoma and was solid all weekend en route to a sixth-place finish at Road America.

The reason to lock Buescher in now is that he has had plenty of speed in qualifying recently. He has started inside the top seven in Martinsville, Dover, Sonoma, and Road America, meaning there's a good chance his odds are lower than this after qualifying Saturday. I've got Buescher at 27.1% to finish top 10, far enough above his 21.3% implied odds for me to jump in.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Aric Almirola to Finish Top 10 (-110)

Aric Almirola won this race last year. That'll typically lead to a big odds inflation. I don't think we're seeing that here, though, and I'm showing value on his top-10 market.

My numbers have Almirola at 55.2% to finish top 10 versus 52.4% implied. Almirola qualified seventh and was top-10 in both single-lap speed and five-lap average on Saturday.

Almirola showed great speed at both Gateway and Martinsville, two other flat tracks, and he converted for top-10 finishes there. He was 12th in Phoenix, as well, so he has been at least competitive all year. I think he's being undervalued despite the flashy run in this race last year.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Brad Keselowski to Finish Top 10 (+370)

We talked about Brad Keselowski's teammate/employee, Chris Buescher, earlier in the week. I've got Buescher up to 34.7% now, and you can still get him at +370 now. But if you want to add, Keselowski is a value, too.

My numbers have been low on Keselowski all year, and they're still relatively low even after he showed speed on Saturday. I have Keselowski at 29.4% to finish top 10. That's not super optimistic! And yet it's showing value over his implied odds of 21.3%.

I'm not opposed to this. As mentioned with Buescher, this team found something on road courses that seemed to translate to New Hampshire. Both teams were top-10 in single-lap speed, and Buescher was 8th in 10-lap average while Keselowski was 14th. I prefer Buescher between the two, but I'm more than okay with adding Keselowski on top.