NASCAR Betting Guide: Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500
For some reason, I've got an inkling that several of you are new to these NASCAR betting streets. Can't imagine why that would be.
If so, welcome to the madness. As of right now, the NASCAR Cup Series is planning to hold this weekend's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 without fans due to the spread of COVID-19. Hopefully, you're taking care of yourself and others by staying indoors, and we can distract ourselves for a bit by watching some majestic left turns.
For those of you new to NASCAR betting, there are a couple of key times to enter the market. The first is the window we're discussing here: prior to practice and qualifying.
(UPDATE: Practice has been cancelled for this weekend's race, and the race has been moved up to Saturday at 2 pm Eastern.)
Practice gives us a glimpse at which drivers have fast cars at the track that week. It's super valuable information, and it will go a long way toward telling us whom we should expect to compete.
However, it's also an inflection point in the market. If a driver drops fast times in practice, their odds are going to shorten significantly. They may still be worth it at the shortened odds, but it's largely a sharper market once we hit that point.
As such, we're going to go through some outrights for this weekend's race in Atlanta now. Practices are Friday, meaning if you want to get these numbers where they currently stand at FanDuel Sportsbook, you'd be wise to dive in before that time.
Joey Logano (+700)
Kevin Harvick (+450) is justifiably the favorite to win this weekend. He has been strong to start 2020, and he consistently contends in Atlanta.
But Joey Logano has won two of the first four races and can still be had at a reasonable number. Sign me up.
Dating back to last year, Logano has had a top-10 average running position in eight straight races. That mark was sixth or better in half of those races, including in Las Vegas, the only other 1.5-mile track to host a race so far this year. Logano won there and had a fourth-place average running position, though he didn't necessarily have the best car in the field.
Logano's crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was on the box for Brad Keselowski (+750) when Keselowski won in Atlanta in both 2017 and 2019, meaning Logano should have a race-winning setup under the hood. Even with Logano's odds not being all that long, there's still some value to be had here. He ranks second in my model for the race, trailing only Harvick.
Martin Truex Jr. (+1100)
Because of all the issues they've had to open 2020, each of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars has longer odds than usual at FanDuel Sportsbook. That's the way it should be as the struggles are a legitimate concern.
Of the four JGR drivers, though, Martin Truex Jr. has easily been the one most immune to the downturn. With his odds also lengthened, now seems like a good time to hop back on the train.
A quick look at Truex's stats will show you that he's yet to record a top-10 finish this year. That's more due to bad luck than speed. Truex had a top-nine average running position in both Las Vegas and Fontana and could have pushed for a win had he not encountered issues late in those races. That's why he's still sitting third in my model despite the poor finishes. Both the data and the eye test tell you that he's a contender.
Truex finished runner-up last year in Atlanta and won in Charlotte, a track with a similar configuration to this one. We should still be wary of the JGR cars as a whole until they put a full race together, but Truex's strength thus far makes him an exception.
Kurt Busch (+2200)
We don't think of Kurt Busch as being a super high-upside driver capable of grinding out wins in his age-41 season. His performance on the 1.5-mile tracks last year may surprise you, though, and Atlanta is a track that plays to his strengths.
In 11 races at 1.5-mile tracks in 2019, Busch had a win in Kentucky, four top-fives, and seven top-10s. His second-best finish after the win was actually a third-place finish in Atlanta. Busch has had a top-six average running position in three of the past four races here, and he finished eighth or better in all four of those.
That's not a major surprise if you know Busch's style. He excels at tracks where the cars slip around more due to increased tire wear, as evidenced by his finishes in Fontana (third) and Phoenix (sixth) the past two weeks. Atlanta is one of the better examples of that left on the Cup Series circuit, so his strength here doesn't seem to be a fluke.
If you're less certain about Busch's upside, you should search for some other markets with additional leniency (he is 3/1 to finish top-five at DraftKings Sportsbook, for example). Regardless, we should expect an up-tick from Busch this weekend, which presents a betting opportunity.
Matt DiBenedetto (+7000)
Despite a second-place finish in Las Vegas, Matt DiBenedetto is still 70/1 to win this weekend's race in Atlanta. That is lick-yo-lips good.
To be sure, there was some flukiness involved with that qualify finish. DiBenedetto's average running position was just 14th. He utilized late-race strategy to move up in the order, staying out while others pitted, allowing him to launch off from third for the final restart. He gained a spot right after the green flag and was running second when the race ended under caution. So, it's not as if he was pushing to lead laps the whole race.
Still, DiBenedetto was crazy fast in practice that whole weekend, meaning the speed in his car was there. We should expect the same this weekend with Wood Brothers Racing being tied to Penske Racing, the team Logano, Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney (+1300) occupy. If DiBenedetto shows any life in practice on Friday, there's no way he closes at anything longer than 50/1. If you want to dive in, the time to do so is now.
As with Busch, this is a good spot to snag some non-outrights, too, or potentially bet DiBenedetto in matchups versus other drivers. If you're looking for that big payout, though, DiBenedetto is likely your best option longer than 35/1.