NASCAR Betting Guide: Toyota Owners 400
For this week in Richmond, we've got a clear group of studs at the top who must be the definitive favorites entering the week. That clarity is a blessing for betting.
In my win simulations, five drivers possess win odds in the double digits. They're all +800 or shorter at FanDuel Sportsbook, so the sims and the odds appear to be in lockstep.
This confidence that the model has makes sense. As mentioned in this week's track preview on the DFS side of things, the short, flat tracks have the highest correlation between each driver's finish and how my model viewed them entering the race since the start of 2019. Even though they're shorter tracks, the degree of predictiveness is high.
That allows us to bet drivers even at short odds if the value is there. And it seems like it is this weekend.
Let's start things off at the top and outline what the model is showing there. Then, we'll check out drivers outside the big five and see what they're saying.
Denny Hamlin (+600) OR Joey Logano (+800) to Win
This is a pick-your-poison recommendation. I think you need to bet one of them, but both guys present value. It's just hard to bet both given how short the odds are. Let's run through the case for both guys so you can decide your preferred route.
The confidence in these drivers stems from their performance in the 750-horsepower package. Denny Hamlin has been a rocketship this year, posting a top-four average running position and a top-four finish in all four races using this rules package. He led 276 laps last week but faded a bit at the end to finish third. Even though Hamlin hasn't won at Richmond since 2015, he has had a top-five average running position twice in that span, including the fall 2019 race.
As for Logano, his dominance in this package includes last year, as well. He had a third-place average running position in Richmond and has finished on the podium in four of the six races on shorter tracks since then. That includes a win at the Bristol dirt race, which isn't similar to Richmond but did utilize the same rules package.
My model and win sims always love Logano, and they've got him at 17.9% to win this week, a massive chunk above his implied odds at 11.1%. Hamlin's gap is smaller (15.9% versus 14.3% implied) but still valuable for such a short number. I'm inclined to go Logano at +800, but betting him to podium at +225 and Hamlin to win at +600 is also in play.
Christopher Bell to Win (+2500)
With so much value wrapped up in Hamlin and Logano -- and with Martin Truex Jr. (+400) soaking up 19.6% of the wins in the simulations -- it's no shocker that most longshots are drawing dead in terms of outright value. The one exception is Christopher Bell.
Bell's at 4.9% in my win sims, a full percentage point ahead of his implied odds at 3.9%. That's even with a relatively conservative prior on Bell with his new team. Part of his equipment prior in my model is tied to how Joe Gibbs Racing performed at the 750-horsepower tracks last year, and they've clearly taken a step forward in 2021.
Bell has benefited from those gains, posting 11th- and 9th-place average running positions in the two races at short, flat tracks to open the season. But he never ran as well at Phoenix and Martinsville in the lower series as he did in Richmond.
Bell ran five races on this track in the Xfinity Series. He not only won three of those races, but he also led 36.6% of the laps he ran. You can't get more dominant than that.
Now, Bell's in great equipment, he has already won using this horsepower package this year (at the Daytona road course), and he's starting near the front of the pack. If you're going to bet a non-favorite, Bell's your guy. Bell's also a value at +120 to finish ahead of Ryan Blaney, which you can find at FOX Bet.
Bubba Wallace to Finish Top 10 (+230)
The other guy who benefits from Joe Gibbs Racing's improvements on the 750-horsepower tracks is Bubba Wallace. That hasn't translated into great finishes yet, but that allows us to get Wallace at +230 to finish in the top 10 at FOX Bet.
Wallace's 23XI Racing team is affiliated with JGR, so any gains they make apply to him, too. Wallace was running in the top 10 in Phoenix before an aggressive (but not unwarranted) pit call by his crew chief put him on old tires. He finished 16th there.
Wallace also finished 16th in Martinsville, but that was after a wretched start to the day. He was two laps down at one point, got back on the lead lap, led 23 laps after another aggressive pit-road call, and eventually settled further back. They were able to claw their way back from a poor start, which is what you want to see.
Wallace has a 12th-place finish on his ledger at Richmond, a finish he achieved while with poor equipment. That's not the case anymore with the JGR affiliation. Wallace works well here, and my model also likes him at +120 versus Tyler Reddick (once again at FOX Bet).