NASCAR Betting Guide: Wurth 400
Outside of Talladega, finding value on outrights early in the week has been tough recently.
We had a string of races where the realistic contenders were easy to predict, and it led to short odds my model couldn't quite catch up to. So, we had to stand pat and wait to add win bets later.
This week is different, as there are two decent values in the NASCAR Cup Series betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. We just have to decide when to bet them.
Rain is in the forecast this weekend at Dover, meaning there's a good chance practice and qualifying get rained out. If that happens, a metric will set the starting order for the weekend, meaning some fast cars may not start out front.
My model won't care too much about that because the primary function of qualifying is that it's an indicator of speed. But it could alter betting markets if drivers further back see their odds lengthen.
So, we have to decide: should we fire on these bets now or wait until Saturday to see if we can get a better number?
Let's dig into the spots where I show value and weigh the proper approach for this week.
Kyle Larson to Win (+500)
(UPDATE: Larson has since shortened to +490 to win despite qualifying being rained out, forcing him to start 18th. I still have value on Larson at +490, so he's a viable bet if you didn't get on board at +500.)
The reason the rain discussion is pertinent is that Kyle Larson would start 19th if qualifying were rained out. Given he's the favorite, that could shake up the odds board.
I, personally, bet Larson earlier in the week when he was +600 elsewhere. If you can still get that number, I'd fire now as he has shortened to +550 or +500 most spots. If the best you can get is +500, I'd hold off for now but be sure to grab it eventually.
The reason I'd be itchy to add Larson is that I'm showing good value even at +500. My model has Larson's win odds above 20%, and the implied odds here are 16.7%. That's a huge number that my model doesn't get to often.
It gets there on Larson for two reasons. First, Larson's form is absurd. He won at Martinsville and was a threat to win in Richmond and Phoenix. Those races used a different aero package than Dover will use, but he was also elite in the same package at Las Vegas. Basically, Larson and his teammates have been the class of the field thus far.
Second, this is one of Larson's best tracks. He won here in 2019 with Chip Ganassi Racing. He has six podium finishes in 14 career races, only one of which has come since he joined Hendrick Motorsports. In that one, Larson had a first-place average running position but finished second after teammate Alex Bowman beat him off pit road late.
So, you get a sicko-tier driver at one of his best tracks. That's a convergence that can get your win odds up to 20%.
Again, the only question here is when to bet Larson. So, again, if you can get him longer than +500 now, I'd take it. If not, I'd stand pat and see if we can get a longer number on Saturday. If he stays at +500, I'd still add him then. This is all about what the market does, not about how our view of Larson would shift.
Kevin Harvick to Win (+1100); Harvick to Finish Top 10 (-160)
(UPDATE: Harvick has since shortened to +900 to win and -185 to finish top 10. I'm no longer showing value at those numbers, so if you can't get Harvick at his original odds, I'd pass.)
Other than the Hendrick cars, the other guy entering with elite form is Kevin Harvick. Again, that came in a different aero package, but I still think Harvick is undervalued here.
My model has Harvick with the second-highest win odds behind Larson, sitting at 10.4%. His implied odds are 8.3%, giving us a big enough gap to budge.
Harvick was on his way to victory in Phoenix after having passed Larson before a late caution ruined his fun. He also had good speed in Richmond and Martinsville even though Martinsville has never been his best track.
He enters this race with eight straight top-10s in Dover with only one of those finishes being worse than sixth. That run came last year, which is concerning because it overlaps with when Stewart-Haas Racing's overall form dipped. But with the good speed Harvick showed at Bristol later in the year, I don't want to overweigh that one race too much.
Because Harvick has a low incident rate and is viewed so well by my model, I also have value on him to finish top 10, even at -160. So I'd ladder this bet, putting enough on the top-10 where you'll profit as long as he's there, and putting some on the outright to give you upside should he win. Harvick would start just outside the top 10 if qualifying were rained out, so these are bets I'd be fine adding right now.
Brad Keselowski to Finish Top 10 (+140)
(UPDATE: Keselowski has since shortened to +105 to finish top 10. After Keselowski showed quality speed in practice, my model has him up to 62.5% to finish top 10. He's still a good bet even at +105.)
The guy who's doing a rain dance, hoping things get washed out Saturday, is Brad Keselowski. He'd start fourth in that situation. As such, Keselowski's the one we should be most eager to add now.
I do show some outright value on Keselowski with his win odds at 3.2% by my model versus 2.8% implied at +3500. But the bigger value is in the top-10 market.
There, I have Keselowski at 44.9% to finish top 10, up from 41.7% implied. Similar to Larson and Harvick, Keselowski has had really good speed on the shorter tracks thus far, even if the results haven't reflected it. Keselowski has had a top-10 average running position in four non-superspeedways since joining RFK Racing; two came this year in Richmond and Phoenix, and another came last year in Bristol.
That Bristol run wasn't a huge shock. His teammate, Chris Buescher, won the pole in Dover and ran decently well during the race. Buescher went on to win Bristol, meaning this team has been starting to slowly turn things around. Keselowski has been the one to reap the benefits this year.
Dover certainly isn't an elite track for Keselowski. That's part of why I'm okay shying away from the outright. But with RFK Racing running well on concrete and on shorter tracks in 2023, I'm more than okay showing confidence in a top-10 finish.
Post-Practice Addition: Brad Keselowski to Win (+2000)
As mentioned above, I had value on Keselowski to win entering the weekend at +3500. I should have bet him there. But even at +2000, I'm showing value.
A big part of that is the speed Keselowski showed on Saturday in practice. He had the fastest single-lap speed and ranked sixth in five-lap average (after adjusting for differences between the two practice groups). And as noted, with qualifying rained out, he'll start fourth.
Keselowski was the fastest of the cars inside the front three rows in practice, meaning he may be able to jump out early and grab control of this race. That'd put him in a good spot as track position at Dover is valuable.
My model has Keselowski at 6.4% to win versus 4.8% implied. You can also get him at +2500 still at some other books, so be sure to shop around. But Keselowski seems to be a value across the board right now.
Post-Practice Addition: Corey LaJoie to Finish Top 10 (+2000)
I'm, frankly, a bit surprised to show value here. Corey LaJoie was 11th in single-lap speed and 1st in five-lap average during practice (again, after adjustments for changes in the track between groups). He flashed. But the market is still super low on him.
It's justified as my prior on LaJoie entering the weekend wasn't super high. But after adding in the practice speed, I've got his top-10 odds at 6.3% versus 4.8% implied. It's not a huge gap. But value is value.
Dover has traditionally been a pretty poor track for LaJoie, but he did show life last year. He finished 18th with a 20th-place average running position, and his form this year is better than it was then. It's a longshot for a reason with LaJoie starting 27th, but I do think he's worth a stab here.