NASCAR Betting Guide: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
This week's NASCAR Cup Series betting markets present us with a unique situation.
Kevin Harvick (+550) is the betting favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. For reasons laid out in yesterday's data sheet, I'm skeptical of Harvick at that number. He ranks sixth in my model, and his win odds in my simulations (11.1%) are more than four percentage points lower than his implied odds at this number (15.4%).
It's not often you get that big of a divergence at the top. It's possible Harvick could win -- 11.1% is nothing to sneeze at -- but this creates value elsewhere in the outright market.
As such, this is a week where it's more advantageous than others to dabble in outrights. You may want to pair some of the outrights with podium bets so as to lower your overall exposure to trying to peg the winner, but there are some big value spots to attack here. Let's go through the biggest ones now.
Brad Keselowski to Win (+700)
The big selling point on Harvick is that he has a great history in Atlanta, having won two of the past three races here. But in Brad Keselowski, you can get that same advantage coupled with better current form.
In the two races Harvick hasn't won across the past four in Atlanta, Keselowski has gotten the checkered flag. He was runner-up in another and hasn't had an average running position outside the top 10 since 2010. This all happened before Keselowski rounded into the driver he currently is; his 10.1 average finish last year tied the best of his career, equaling the mark from his 2012 championship season.
Unlike Harvick, Keselowski has hit the ground running this year. He led 47 laps in Homestead (the closest parallel to Atlanta thus far) and had an eighth-place average running position. He followed that up with a fourth-place average running position in Las Vegas, the other race to use this rules package. It seems odd that we'd ignore his superiority to Harvick there when Keselowski also mops up in Atlanta.
There is a bit of a pick-your-poison situation at the top. Thanks to the market's confidence in Harvick, there is actually betting value in four drivers with odds shorter than +1000.
|Driver||Implied Odds||Simulated Odds||Difference|
|Martin Truex Jr.||14.3%||15.6%||1.3%|
Keselowski is the one with the biggest edge, and he has a great track history. That's why I'm preferring him. But Martin Truex Jr. (+600) does top the simulated win odds and has a top-four average running position here in two straight races. You've got options. My personal preference is just for Keselowski.
Ryan Blaney to Win (+1400)
The table above has both Keselowski and Joey Logano (+800) as showing value. The third full-time member of Penske Racing -- Ryan Blaney -- is in on the party, as well.
Blaney can't lean on the same history as Keselowski here. He has just one top-five in five races, so the winner's pedigree isn't in there.
But that record is deceptive. Back in 2019, Blaney started the race in 26th. He worked his way forward, took the lead on lap 231, and led the next 41 laps. Unfortunately, Blaney was pinned a lap down during a late caution that came out after he had pitted. Keselowski had also pitted, but he got the free pass under the caution and went on to win. Blaney finished 22nd.
Pit strategy often works against Blaney, which can make it frustrating to bet him. But we know he'll have speed, as evidenced by his sixth-place average running position in Las Vegas. In five races on high-banked, 1.5-mile tracks last year, Blaney had four top-fives, and he led 150 laps in the one race he finished worse than that. This number accounts for his imperfections, so we should be willing to take the plunge despite his unproven history.
Christopher Bell to Win (+2200)
Another driver who sparks interest due to their runs on similar tracks last year is Christopher Bell.
In the second Texas race last year, Bell finished third and led five laps. He did that while driving for Leavine Family Racing, which has since folded. Now, he's with Joe Gibbs Racing, which has won two of the first five races to open the season (one of which was Bell on the Daytona road course). The equipment is much better, and he showed last year he could get around a track like this even with less speed.
Bell has already proven what he can do in Atlanta when he has the proper ponies under the hood. In the 2019 Xfinity Series race, Bell led 142 of 163 laps en route to the win. The heavy tire wear at the track can benefit drivers with a dirt background because they know how to wheel it when the car isn't handling. It's no shock this would be a plus track for him.
Bell holds the 10th-highest win odds in my model at 7.0%, a healthy amount higher than his implied odds at 4.3%. This is the best market in which to bet Bell as his podium number is down at +600 (14.3% implied versus 12.8% in the simulations), so it lines up to be an all-or-nothing betting week on JGR's prized pupil.
Kyle Larson Over Kevin Harvick (-112)
We're fading Harvick plenty with the other drivers, but why not add one more? There's value in this market, as well.
The implied odds on laying -112 for Kyle Larson to beat Harvick are 52.8%. That may seem dumb given that Harvick's outright market is shorter than Larson's, but my simulations do like it. Larson ranks third in my model versus Harvick in sixth, and his simulated average finish is 1.06 spots better.
Similar to Keselowski, Larson gets us good track history without sacrificing form. He won in Las Vegas and had a fifth-place average running position in Homestead. His average running position was at least four spots better than Harvick in both races.
The last time Larson ran Atlanta, he led 142 laps and had a sixth-place average running position. He's similar to Bell in that he benefits when the track gets more slick, and he's now in the best equipment of his life. That's enough to take the plunge on Larson here despite the juice.
Alex Bowman to Finish Top 10 (+115)
The final driver worth discussing who benefits from slick tracks and heavy tire wear is Alex Bowman. He got his start in racing as a teenager on dirt, and those skills have translated into plus results in the Cup Series.
The tracks traditionally viewed as having the most tire falloff (excluding short tracks) are Fontana, Darlington, Atlanta, and Homestead. The Cup Series ran six races on those tracks last year. Bowman won one of them, was runner-up in another, and had five top-10 average running positions. He backed that up with a top-10 average running position in Homestead this year, cashing it in with a ninth-place finish.
That could lead you to betting an outright on Bowman (+2800). However, there are a bunch of other guys who excel on this track type, and many of them are in equipment equal to that of Bowman (including his teammate, Larson).
Based on my win sims, Bowman gets the checkered flag 3.3% of the time, directly in line with his 3.4% implied odds. But it does seem to set up for a good run for him on Sunday. That leads us to betting him to snag a top-10 rather than relying on him to win it all.