NASCAR Betting Guide: Pennzoil 400
At long last, we've got data that matters.
Fontana and Las Vegas may not be similar tracks. Fontana is a half mile bigger and features more tire degradation than we'll see in Vegas.
But the two races before that were at the LA Coliseum and Daytona, two spots where our takeaways for betting were almost non-existent. So, it may be imperfect, but whew, buddy, is it nice to have something.
And lucky for us, some of the action we saw on track isn't fully accounted for in the opening betting markets for the Pennzoil 400. There are drivers who showed life last week who grade out as values in my model even though Fontana is just a small portion of that equation. It should up our confidence in buying into what the numbers are saying.
Let's run through where I'm seeing value now based on the NASCAR Cup Series betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. Then, we can circle back later in the week after practice and add to the card if more value pops up.
Austin Dillon to Finish Top 10 (+250)
It was Austin Dillon's teammate, Kyle Busch, who stole the show in Fontana. But that means Richard Childress Racing has speed, and Dillon wasn't too shabby himself.
Dillon started that race in 28th, so he was mired deep in the pack. But he worked his way forward and wound up with a 9th-place finish and 16th-place average running position. It won't blow you away, but it certainly wasn't bad.
Dillon was solid on the 1.5-mile tracks last year. He had just 2 top-10s in 7 races, but he was 10th and 11th in the 2 Vegas races, and both of his top-10 runs came during the playoffs.
Vegas has generally been a decent track for Dillon as he has 2 career top-5s and has finished 13th or better in 4 straight. I've got his top-10 odds at 33.8%, up from 28.6% implied at this number.
Austin Cindric to Finish Top 10 (+470)
Things weren't as rosy for this Austin last week, and he didn't have a single top-10 finish on this track type last year. But I'm still showing decent value on Austin Cindric to snag a top-10.
My model puts Cindric's top-10 odds at 24.5%, up from 17.5% implied. That may seem odd given how last year went, but Cindric had better speed than the finishes indicate.
In that seven-race sample, Cindric had a top-13 average running position three times. One of those came in the playoff Las Vegas race, though he had an issue and finished eight laps down.
The other aspect with Cindric is that he is almost a lock to qualify well. In the 7-race sample, he started 11th or better all but once, and he was top-5 on 3 occasions, including both Vegas races. This means if you want to bet Cindric, you should do it now before cars are on track.
Although Fords struggled last week, Cindric's Team Penske teammates were the exceptions. I'm fine buying into that speed and Cindric's talent to bet him as value top-10 option.
Ty Gibbs to Finish Top 10 (+470)
Given the value equipment plays in my model, it's tough to get a driver at Joe Gibbs Racing to have top-10 odds lower than 17.5%. So this is in part due to equipment. But I also still buy into Ty Gibbs' talent, and it creates a pretty significant gap between my model and the market here.
The talent angle on Gibbs stems from what he did in the Xfinity Series. In seven races on 1.5-mile tracks there last year, he had only one finish worse than fourth, including a win in Las Vegas. His three average running positions in Vegas across two years were fifth, fifth, and third, so he knows how to get around this spot.
Gibbs didn't have the same success in the Cup Series at 23XI Racing, but it's understandable. He was thrust into the car with little warning, and the Cup cars are very different from the Xfinity car he was using to race for a championship (which he eventually won). I think the Xfinity data is the more relevant info for projecting Gibbs.
As a result, I've got Gibbs' top-10 odds higher than 30%, so I'm likely too high. I'm also showing value on him to win at +8000. But I don't think we should forget how sick this kid's talent is and how fast his car can be. Plus, with the market where it's at, I've got plenty of wiggle room to be too high on Gibbs and still be above the implied mark.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to Finish Top 10 (+650)
With Ricky Stenhouse Jr., I think there's an argument to waiting until after qualifying to bet him. Stenhouse was largely slow in qualifying last year, so there's a decent shot his odds lengthen Saturday. But I've got a big enough edge where I'd rather bet him now just to be safe.
My model has Stenhouse's top-10 odds at 27.5%, up from 13.3% implied. Similar to Gibbs, this is a big gap, but I think it's for good reason.
Despite the poor qualifying last year, Stenhouse still squeaked out two top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks (a 28.5% rate). He had a top-14 average running position three times, one of which was here in Las Vegas. That was all while generally starting deep in the field.
Stenhouse has a propensity for wrecking, and his team isn't the fastest in the garage. But after a 12th-place average running position in Fontana (and a 12th-place finish), we should have enough faith in him to say the market is likely too low here.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Kyle Larson to Win (+850)
I'm honestly kinda shocked to show value on Kyle Larson after the speed he showed in practice Saturday. But no complaints; I'll take it.
I've got Larson's win odds up to 13.8% post-qualifying, highest in the field and above his implied odds of 10.5%. Larson was second behind teammate William Byron in both five- and 10-lap average, and he qualified sixth despite a slip in the final round.
Larson has always been a threat on the 1.5-mile tracks, and he had great speed last week after an electrical issue. I didn't think I'd be able to bet Larson this week, so this is a mighty fine surprise.
Post-Qualifying Addition: Alex Bowman to Win (+2400)
Alex Bowman was a slim value for me before practice and qualifying. He lengthened after qualifying 11th, and it gives me a big enough edge where I'll buy in.
I've got Bowman's win odds at 5.2%, up from 4.0% implied. He won this race last year, and he had a super sporty run last year in Kansas (Vegas' sister track), as well. Given the speed at Hendrick Motorsports, that's not a surprise.
Bowman also had good speed last week, boasting a seventh-place average running position. Bowman's never the sexiest guy to bet, but I think that's playing a factor in keeping his outright a value here.