NASCAR Betting Guide: The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum
After a couple of months off, it'd be fun to dive back into the waters of NASCAR betting head first. We've been starved for action since Phoenix, and with the NFL on break for a week, we need something to fill the void.
Unfortunately, this isn't the time to do that.
Sunday night's Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is just the second time the Cup Series has run this stadium course. It's a super unique setup, meaning in addition to a lack of track history, there aren't many tracks we can lean on as comps.
Volatility can be a good thing because it means bookmakers are also working with minimal information. But with a full 36-race schedule to come later, I'm okay taking it easy this week.
The way I'm betting The Clash is to have a couple of non-short outrights with drivers who I think are undervalued, putting well less than my typical outright bet size on the line. That way, I can still have some entertainment value while capitalizing on a sport where I think I have an edge without overextending in an unknown.
Unfortunately, two prime candidates to target here -- Ryan Blaney and Chase Briscoe -- saw their odds shorten after they opened in FanDuel Sportsbook's betting odds for The Clash. Blaney shortened to +1000 from +1200, and Briscoe plummeted to +2500 from +5000. I'm no longer showing value on Briscoe at that number, and the value on Blaney is thin enough where I'm no longer taking it. If you can find those guys back at somewhere near where they opened, I'm in.
So, that naturally whittles our list down a bit. But there are still two drivers who check the above boxes and have betting odds longer than I think they should have.
Let's dig into who those drivers are and why I'm fine with betting them despite the unknowns around the event.
William Byron to Win (+1500)
William Byron started 2022 hot before sputtering a bit through the summer months. I'm willing to chalk that up to variance and buy into Byron as he enters his age-25 season.
The one track type where Byron didn't really slump was the short, flat tracks. His aggregate average running position in those 7 races -- 8.7 -- was a full position better than he had on any other track type. He won in Martinsville, had a great run in the first Richmond race, and rallied for solid finishes in the final two races of the year at Martinsville and Phoenix.
In last year's Clash, Byron was slow in practice but qualified well, ran well in his heat, and finished sixth. I don't care much about that given how small the sample is, but he did at least show something there.
My model puts Byron's win odds at 7.3%, up from 6.3% implied. Unless you can still get Blaney at +1200, I'm fine betting Byron as the one driver with short-ish odds showing value.
Ty Gibbs to Win (+7500)
As always, longshots are longshots for a reason. It's a steep learning curve going from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and that's why Ty Gibbs is +7500.
But I think that's too long, in large part due to assumed differences between the way I'm modeling Gibbs versus how sportsbooks are doing it.
Based on this number for Gibbs and the Daytona 500 odds for Noah Gragson, I think books are using last year's Cup performances as the baseline for these two drivers. Both ran almost half the races, and neither ran super well in that time.
I think that's a mistake, personally. Both drivers were contending for the Xfinity Series championship in a very different car. That's where the bulk of their focus was. Gragson said flat out he wasn't driving hard in Cup so that he wouldn't have to miss any Xfinity races due to injury.
For Gibbs, he was thrust into the 23XI ride with literally hours notice after Kurt Busch's concussion. He then had to play catch-up with that car while, again, competing for a championship in a different series.
So, for both Gibbs and Gragson, rather than using their 2022 Cup Series data, I'm using their Xfinity Series data and using my typical adjustment from one series to the next. When I do that and put Gibbs on arguably the best team in the garage, it's hard to get him out to +7500 to win.
Right now, I've got Gibbs' win odds at 2.4%, up from 1.3% implied. He's not a likely winner, but it would mean his odds should be closer to +4000 than +7500. In NASCAR, that's a pretty big edge.
I could be overestimating Gibbs, and I could be flawed in how I'm modeling him and Gragson. But I think the data from last year is tainted, and it's making these guys look less skilled than they are. As a result, I'm willing to bet Gibbs at this number here, and I wouldn't shocked if we're talking about Gragson as being undervalued in other markets in the very near future.