NASCAR Betting Guide: Pennzoil 400
Daytona is a chaotic place where anything can happen. It makes it tough to peg down favorites for betting because even the best drivers are subject to wrecks.
Things settle down a bit this week with the NASCAR Cup Series out in Las Vegas. It's our first time seeing drivers with new teams outside of Daytona, and it's going to go a long way for shaping how we view drivers in the short-term future. That also makes it a major inflection point from a betting perspective.
If you want to buy into drivers before the market adjusts for any offseason chances, this could be one of your last chances to do so. With that in mind, let's run through some drivers who shape up as advantageous bets for this week, based on the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Joey Logano (+700)
Even though Joey Logano won in Las Vegas last year, he isn't even the headliner here within his own team. That's Brad Keselowski (+600) thanks to three wins within the past eight Las Vegas races. But it's Logano who stands out as the better value between the two.
Prior to practice and qualifying, Logano is actually first in my model for this race. A lot of that is because Logano is elite in Las Vegas with a top-six average running position in six straight races, but he also finished last year strong. He had an eighth-place average running position in Homestead and a ninth-place mark in Texas in addition to leading 105 laps in the fall Vegas race.
Logano's odds are short, but there still seems to be some wiggle room here, and he stands out as the best value among the favorites.
Ryan Blaney (+1600)
If you want access to the Penske Racing equipment without paying the heavy toll of Logano and Keselowski, you can dip down to Ryan Blaney at 16/1, instead.
Las Vegas was a plus track for Blaney even before he joined Penske at the start of 2018. In 2016 and 2017 -- while Blaney was with Wood Brothers Racing -- he finished sixth and seventh, respectively, and had a seventh-place average running position both times. He has carried that over to the new team with top-fives in three of four races the past two seasons.
Similar to Logano, Blaney was fast on the 1.5-mile tracks during the playoffs, logging a top-10 average running position in three of four races. Combine that with his track history, and Blaney enters the weekend ranked fourth in my model. You can find Blaney longer than 16/1 at some other books, so make sure you do some price shopping first, but he shapes up as a favorable option even at the shorter number.
Matt DiBenedetto (+6000)
Hey, whaddya know? Another driver with access to Penske equipment, this time in the satellite shop at Wood Brothers. Blaney's success while he was there should boost our interest in Matt DiBenedetto.
Last year, DiBenedetto didn't stand a chance on this track type thanks to sub-par equipment. His best average running position at a 1.5-mile track was 14th, and that was his only race better than 19th. But his predecessor in this seat, Paul Menard, had an average running position better than 19th in all but two races at 1.5-mile tracks, and it's reasonable to assume that DiBenedetto is a talent upgrade over what Menard was providing. This is a big boost for DiBenedetto.
DiBenedetto's equipment isn't going to be on par with what the actual Penske drivers have, so we do want to make sure we keep expectations in check. Still, he's a good driver in new equipment, and his odds seem to account for the imperfections. If you are bullish on DiBenedetto, he's one of the drivers who has the potential to see odds a good chunk shorter than this going forward if he has a good showing on Sunday. Now would be the time to buy in.
Chris Buescher (+15000)
Most of the thoughts that apply to DiBenedetto also apply to Chris Buescher, though to a slightly lesser extent.
Last year, it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+10000) piloting the Roush-Fenway Racing No. 17 car that Buescher's now in for 2020. Stenhouse managed a top-eight average running position at a 1.5-mile track twice -- one of which was in Las Vegas -- and he was 12th or better four times. Buescher was better than 16th just once.
Even with lower-end speed, Buescher still had all four of his top-10 finishes come at 1.5-mile tracks, meaning he squeezed everything he could out of his equipment. His equipment -- and, thus, his upside -- isn't as good as DiBenedetto's, but it's still a lot better than where he was at before.
Between Stenhouse and teammate Ryan Newman, Roush-Fenway Racing had just one top-five finish on this track type in 2019, so Buescher's still super unlikely to win. Because of that, you may want to consider betting him for a top-10 finish (he's +600 to do that at DraftKings Sportsbook), but if you want to gun for the big payday, this number is at least enticing.