NASCAR

NASCAR Betting Guide: GEICO 500

Erik Jones is a longshot to win in Talladega at FanDuel Sportsbook but has shown talent in the draft previously. Can we actually justify betting him at long odds in the GEICO 500?

Typically, I'm not someone looking to bet longshots.

Longshots are usually longshots for a reason; they're unlikely to get the job done. If you live in that realm, you're going through long stretches of losing betslips.

This approach is also informed by my win sims, which almost never show value on longshots relative to their betting odds.

But we've got an exception for this week, and it's one I'm willing to buy into.

The reasoning here is that the NASCAR Cup Series is heading to Talladega, one of two superspeedways and three pack-racing tracks on the schedule. This levels the playing field and allows a larger pool of drivers to realistically compete for the win.

If you're going to bet a longshot, this is a great spot to do it.

This parity thinking also applies to the top-10 market where I'm seeing some nice value on guys lower in the running order. So let's have some fun this week and let some big numbers fly.

Erik Jones to Win (+7000 at FanDuel Sportsbook); Jones to Finish Top 10 (+360)

(UPDATE: Jones' top-10 odds have since shortened to +310. My numbers would show value on him down to +255.)

Across the board, regardless of the market, Erik Jones isn't getting enough respect this week.

Starting with the outright market, I've got Jones at 2.4% to win in my simulations. That's a full percentage point higher than his implied odds of 1.4%, making him the only driver in the field to show more than a percentage point of value there. Based on my numbers, he should be +4000, not +7000.

The reason for the optimism isn't just due to the high-variance nature of the race. Jones has also shown talent in the draft before, winning twice at Daytona (once in an exhibition race) while with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Jones is no longer with JGR, and that does matter. But in two drafting races this year, Jones has had a top-12 average running position both times, and he was ninth in Talladega last year with Petty.

Jones' skills on these tracks is underrated, and he has shown he can overcome his team and run well in these spots. I'm very okay taking a swipe at a longshot when those things align.

As far as the top-10 odds go, I've got Jones at 28.2% to finish top 10 versus 21.7% implied at this number. I'm showing value on his podium odds at +2500, too, if you want to add even more safety. He's just too low on the odds boards this week, so I'm good going hard at him.

Daniel Hemric to Finish Top 10 (+850)

(UPDATE: Hemric has since shortened to +500. My numbers would show value on Hemric down to +350.)

The biggest value bet of any on the board this week is right here. My numbers have Daniel Hemric's top-10 odds more than double what is implied here.

Specifically, I've got Hemric at 22.2% to finish top 10 versus 10.5% implied at this number. I haven't seen a split that big yet this year, and it's one that doesn't make a ton of sense.

Last year, Kaulig Racing was running a partial schedule. They sent Kaz Grala to this race, and his top-10 odds were +550. Grala wound up finishing in the top 10.

This year, Kaulig is running two cars full-time and has been competitive. Hemric finished ninth in Fontana, though that was aided by some quality luck at the end of the race.

Hemric finished top five in Talladega back in his time with Richard Childress Racing. Since returning to race full-time in the Xfinity Series, Hemric has finished top 10 in 4 of 7 races at Daytona and Talladega. He's simply mispriced at this number.

Todd Gilliland to Finish Top 10 (+600)

(UPDATE: Gilliland has since shortened to +380. My numbers would show value on him down to +360, meaning most of the edge here is now gone.)

We tried this market at Daytona. It didn't work, but it was close. So, I'm going back to the Todd Gilliland well again this week.

In that Daytona race, Gilliland finished the first stage in 3rd place, and he was 10th in the second stage.

In the third stage, Gilliland had worked his way back into the top five before getting shuffled back to 12th. While running there, though, Kyle Larson hit Kevin Harvick awkwardly, starting a wreck that collected Gilliland and others.

Gilliland is priced among drivers with poor equipment, but that's not what he's got. His teammate, Michael McDowell, won last year's Daytona 500 and is +175 to finish top 10. That's because McDowell is skilled, but the gap shouldn't be this big.

I've got Gilliland at 21.7% to finish top 10 versus 14.3% implied here. He's not as big of a value as Hemric, but there's still plenty of juice to squeeze here, as well.