NASCAR Betting Guide: Ally 400
Uncertainty in betting can be both a blessing and a curse.
It's a curse in that our conviction behind everything needs to be lower. We need to be more malleable as new information comes in as that new information decreases the uncertainty. If the new information deviates from our priors, we have to be willing to reevaluate.
It's a blessing in that if we guess right, the upsides are big. Uncertainty leads to inefficiency, and inefficient markets don't come around all the time.
This week for the Ally 400 in Nashville, we're going to try to navigate through that uncertainty in a couple of ways.
Primarily, I'm going to keep things light on the betting side until after Saturday's practice. Saturday will tell us which data matters most for this race. If drivers who have thrived in the 750-horsepower package populate the top of the speed charts, then we can value that highly. If it favors drivers who traditionally run well on concrete, we can bump up the weight on that data. Saturday will at least give us some sort of lean on that.
But I want to exploit the numbers that appear "off" before practice based on what I assume matters for this week. There are some bets that stand out, and they're ones I'd like to lock in now because I might not be able to get this much value once practice data is in the books.
Here are the bets that stand out at FanDuel Sportsbook based on my assumptions before practice. Then, as we get more data on Saturday, I may circle back and add additional bets based on what we learn.
Joey Logano to Win (+1400)
The two most likely scenarios for which data matters most this week are:
1. Performance in the 750-horsepower package this year and
2. Performance on concrete.
Both bode well for Joey Logano.
Logano enters Nashville with the third best aggregate average running position in 750-horsepower races on ovals. In those six races, he has a win and two podium finishes, and he ranks fourth in laps led. He has consistently been up front and in contention when braking has been prevalent.
Logano is also good historically on concrete. He rallied late to finish 5th in Dover this year, and he had a top-seven average running position in all four concrete races last year. Logano won at Nashville Superspeedway in (what was then) the Nationwide Series back in 2009, his age-19 season.
Once you add this all together, Logano leads my model in projected average running position and has 9.1% win odds in my simulations. That's a healthy amount higher than the 6.7% implied at +1400, making Logano a good way to exploit the uncertainty.
Martin Truex Jr. Over Kyle Larson (+140)
Given the heater that Kyle Larson is on, it's likely dumb to fade him. But this is a different rules package, and it's one that has favored Martin Truex Jr. over him all year long.
In the six oval races using the 750-horsepower package, Truex has three wins and has led 581 laps. Larson is yet to win in this package, though he certainly would have in Dover if not for being beaten off pit road late in the race. Larson's dominance outside of Dover has largely come in the 550-horsepower package.
The Dover run for Larson could lead you to thinking that he's the better concrete driver, but Truex historically has been great at Dover, too. He's a three-time winner there and has finished either first or second in four of the past five races at the track.
The lone concern in backing Truex is that Joe Gibbs Racing doesn't seem to care as much about tracks not on the playoff schedule, and Nashville doesn't check that box. All three of Truex's wins have come on tracks that are represented during the playoffs; Nashville is very much a one-off. Larson and Hendrick Motorsports have dominated recently on tracks with no playoff representation (unless you count the All-Star Race in Texas, which utilized a different rules package).
Bottom line, it's tough to find a narrative outside of the playoff track angle that favors Larson over Truex. As such, I'll take the risk here and lock in Truex for this matchup. The concern around the playoff tracks is what keeps me from betting Truex outright (+900) even though my win simulations do show value there (12.7% to win versus 10.0% implied).
Bubba Wallace to Finish Top 10 (+550)
The start to the season for Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing has been rough, to say the least. They've yet to score a top-10 finish, which seems sub-optimal if we're going to use some hard-earned money on his bucking that trend.
This race type, though, seems to play to the strengths 23XI Racing has shown thus far, making this a good week to buy in.
It's important to remember that this team is a startup. They didn't have a shop until December, and their first car arrived in January. They were always going to struggle out of the gate.
Those struggles were likely compounded by a lack of practice time. They haven't had time to work together and tweak the car to perfection, and it has clearly had an impact.
This week, though, we do have practice. It's also a race in the 750-horsepower package, which has been Wallace's strength this year.
Of Wallace's five best average running positions on non-drafting tracks, four have come using the 750-horsepower package (including on the concrete at Dover). The lone exception was two weeks ago in Charlotte... but that race had practice beforehand. They've been at their best when they've been using this package or had practice, and both factors are in place this weekend.
Before practice, my simulations have Wallace finishing top-10 20.4% of the time. His implied odds at +550 are 15.4%. That's with the simulations not accounting for potential positive narratives in Wallace's favor, so even if we ignore those, this seems like a great value bet for Sunday.
Post-Practice Addition: William Byron to Win (+1200)
The top of the speed charts were dominated by Hendrick Motorsports in practice. That's no shocker, and it should give us confidence in backing William Byron.
Byron had the fastest single-lap speed and ranked second in five-lap average, trailing just teammate Kyle Larson. So we know he's got speed.
It's not just practice, though. Byron also ranks fourth in aggregate average running position in the 750-horsepower package, posting a top-five mark in both Bristol and Dover. He also had a sixth-place mark in Dover last year, so he can wheel his way around concrete.
After adding practice data, Byron is up to 8.7% win odds in my simulations. That means he'd show at least some value at +1100 or longer, making Byron a buy at most books where things currently stand.