NASCAR Betting Guide: Bass Pro Shops Night Race
Saturday night has the potential to be bananas.
The Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol is the first cutoff race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. After Saturday, four drivers will be eliminated, ending their championship pursuit.
The crazy thing about it? Only one of the 16 drivers has locked his spot in the next round, that being Christopher Bell. All other 15 spots are up for grabs, and only 15 points separate 10th and 15th in the standings.
Hold onto your butts.
We're going to see a lot of desperate drivers trying to earn their way in. But this is also the first time we've seen the Next-Gen car on the Bristol concrete. With Bristol being such a unique track, we don't have many direct comps earlier on the schedule, either.
There's a lot of volatility here. That's both a blessing and a curse for us as bettors as there's always a chance that sportsbooks don't properly account for this variance.
I do think there are some value spots we can snag in this week's NASCAR odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. And at least one of them relates to a central figure in the playoff race.
Let's dig into that now, and then we can circle back if more value arises after practice and qualifying Friday night.
Kyle Busch to Win Group 1 (+290)
(UPDATE: FanDuel no longer has this group bet posted post-qualifying.)
Before you bet this, check Kyle Busch's outright odds at your available sportsbooks. If you can find him at +800, he's a value there, and I'd prefer to bet him in that market.
But at FanDuel, this is the best route for Busch exposure.
Group 1 pits Busch against teammate (for now) Denny Hamlin along with Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. That's a stellar group with four of the six most likely winners by my model.
So, why wouldn't I just gun for the outright if I think Busch can beat these specific three?
It comes back to the volatility. If things get crazy, it's always possible Hamlin, Larson, or Elliott run into issues. It makes Busch's path to victory even more clear, and we have more of those paths available.
Of course, that could always happen to Busch, too, but that's a risk in all markets. Here we increase our paths to success without increasing our paths to failure.
I've got Busch winning this group 32.9% of the time. That's up from 25.6% implied. He's there both because he has torched Bristol throughout his career and due to what he has done on concrete and high-banked tracks this year. He checks every key box.
Busch is currently on the outside looking in for the next round of the playoffs. He needs a good run here, and he's capable of going out and winning the whole race. If you can't get him at +800 to win, this is the market where I'd get my exposure.
Erik Jones to Win (+5000)
(UPDATE: Jones has since shortened to +4400 to win. Friday's sessions lowered his win odds in my model to 1.3%, though, meaning I would not bet him at the new number.)
The playoffs don't matter for Erik Jones. He's out. But, as he showed at Darlington, that doesn't matter. I think he can pull it off again on Saturday.
Jones has historically been stellar at Bristol. He nearly got his first win here in 2017, leading 260 laps before ultimately finishing runner-up. It was one of four top-fives he had in eight starts here with Toyota.
His first Bristol concrete with Petty last year was good, too. There, he started 22nd due to the grid formula but worked his way forward to finish eighth. That was before the Next-Gen car made his Petty/GMS team more competitive relative to the field.
Jones has been solid on the high-banked tracks this year. His Darlington win falls in that bucket, and he had a 13th-place average running position and 10th-place finish in Dover.
My simulations have Jones winning 3.5% of the time, up from 2.0% implied. I'm also showing value in his podium odds (10.2% versus 5.9% implied at +1600) if you want a bit extra wiggle room, but Jones has the upside to get this done.
Chris Buescher to Finish Top 10 (+340)
(UPDATE: Buescher has since shortened to +300 to finish top 10. I am showing value at that number (29.0% for me versus 25.0% implied), though we can find more value in the top-10 bets added below.)
Similar to Jones, Chris Buescher found success at Bristol early in his career. He had a top-five finish here back in 2016 with Front Row Motorsports, his first full season in the sport. And, similar to Jones, high banking has been kind to him in 2022.
The big one was Dover, the other high-banked concrete track on the schedule. There, Buescher won the pole. He managed an eighth-place average running position and finished eighth, as well. It showed the potential of this car.
RFK Racing has trended up since then. At Richmond, another short track, Buescher threatened for a win before ultimately finishing third. In six paved races on tracks a mile or shorter, Buescher has three top-10 finishes.
My model has Buescher at 26.5% to finish top 10 against the 22.7% implied odds here. That's enough value for me to bet him.
Justin Haley to Finish Top 10 (+1100)
This number is down from +1500 earlier in the week, so as always, shop around to see if you can find a lingering longer number. But, even at +1100, I'm showing value on Justin Haley.
One of Haley's best runs the entire season came at Dover. Haley was fast in practice there, qualified 14th, had a 13th-place average running position, and finished 11th. it's not a top-10, but that's pretty solid. He also had a 14th-place average running position in the Bristol dirt race.
We saw Haley take advantage of chaos in the first Darlington race. He wasn't super fast there, but he was around at the end and finished third. That finish is fluky, but it shows the volatility involved in some of these races. Haley has held a pretty steady wheel this year, meaning he is someone who can churn out surprise finishes like that.
Haley's implied top-10 odds are 8.3%. I've got him around double that. Even if you didn't get in at the best number, this is still a quality bet by my model.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Brad Keselowski to Finish Top 10 (+300)
After adjusting for which drivers were in which group, Brad Keselowski had good speed Friday, and he backed it up with a good qualifying run. I think this number is too long on him.
Keselowski was a bit slower in his 10-lap average, but he could have had an off lap in there. He was 11th in single-lap speed and 9th in his five-lap average. He turned that into a 10th-place qualifying effort.
This is part of an upswing for RFK Racing on short tracks. As mentioned above, Buescher won the pole at Dover, and then both Buescher and Keselowski ran well at Richmond. Combining that with the Friday speed, I've got Keselowski at 30.2% to finish top 10, up from 25.0% implied.
Post-Qualifying Addition: AJ Allmendinger to Finish Top 10 (+300)
AJ Allmendinger was a smidge faster than Keselowski in practice, and I've got him as undervalued, too.
Allmendinger -- after adjusting for groups -- was seventh in both five-lap and 10-lap average. He carried that into qualifying and will start 13th.
Allmendinger has just one career Cup Series top-10 finish at Bristol, but he had a bunch of runs in the teens. He also picked up a win here in the Xfinity Series last year. I've got Dinger right around Keselowski's odds at 30.2% to finish top 10. You can find Allmendinger at +350 to finish top 10 elsewhere, so be sure to shop for the best line for betting it.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Cole Custer to Finish Top 10 (+950)
This seems to be an off line at FanDuel. Most books have Cole Custer closer to the Kez/Dinger range, but he's +950 here. It's a big value.
All of Stewart-Haas Racing was fast on Friday. That applies to Custer, too, who qualified 11th and had solid speed across the run.
It has been a nightmare year for Custer. But in Richmond, he had good a good car before running into power-steering issues. I've got Custer at 21.0% to finish top 10, up from 9.5% implied here.