NASCAR

NASCAR Betting Guide: AdventHealth 400

Ryan Blaney has flirted with wins at Kansas in the past. Can he finally get the job done in Sunday's AdventHealth 400?

In previous years, 1.5-mile tracks have been the staples of the NASCAR Cup Series.

As recently as 2020, 30.6% of the schedule was on non-drafting 1.5-milers. It meant that each time the cars went there, we had a great idea of what to expect.

It's a different ballgame this year. Sunday's AdventHealth 400 in Kansas will be just the second race at a non-drafting 1.5-mile track this year, and the first was already a couple of months ago in Las Vegas. The track type is just less prevalent now with more road courses and Atlanta converted to a pack track, dinging the data at our disposal.

The upside is that -- unlike in 2020 and 2021 -- the Cup Series is running the same rules package at every non-drafting track. This has made the overlap between different track types a bit larger, so even if we don't have direct comps, we have a good idea of whom we should expect to be up front.

Unfortunately, the sportsbooks are aware of this, too, and it has led to an opening odds board that's pretty thin on value. Among all early-week outrights, my sims are higher than the implied odds on just two drivers, and one of them I have no urge to bet in that market. There's only one driver showing value in the top-10 market.

This will lead either to a light card for the week or an influx of action after practice and qualifying Saturday evening. But until then, where can we squeeze out some value at FanDuel Sportsbook? Here are the two bets I'm currently willing to make.

Ryan Blaney to Win (+1300)

(UPDATE: Blaney has since shortened to +1200 to win at FanDuel.)

This is the outright I'm willing to bet. Ryan Blaney is worthy of that confidence.

The primary pitch is that Blaney has been fast this year. Only William Byron has led more laps, and Blaney trails just Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson in top-five finishes. Those other drivers are all +1000 or shorter while Blaney is +1300.

Additionally, Blaney has an understated strong history in Kansas. He was a threat to win last spring, but an ill-timed bump from Larson on a late restart catapulted Blaney down to a 21st-place finish. He has had a top-five average running position here four times, including one when he was still with Wood Brothers Racing in 2017. He led 83 laps in that one and had a legit chance to snag what would have been his first career win.

My model has Blaney winning 8.4% of the time, up from his implied odds of 7.1%. With the speed he has shown this year, Blaney has earned that faith and is the one worthwhile outright on the board.

Kevin Harvick to Finish Top 10 (-120)

(UPDATE: Harvick's top-10 odds have since lengthened to +105. I should have listened to my gut and held off on pulling the trigger.)

The outright I'm not willing to bet is on Kevin Harvick. My sims have him winning more than his implied odds of 5.3% (+1800), and I can't get there.

The top-10 market is far more reasonable, though.

Harvick's implied odds to finish top 10 are 54.6% while my numbers have him at 59.2%. As mentioned, no other driver is showing value in this market, but we do have a nice cushion here even if the model is a bit off.

Harvick gets that juice in part due to his strong track history at Kansas. Even in a down 2021 season, Harvick had a top-seven average running position in both races and wound up on the podium twice. That -- to me -- matters far more than Harvick's strong history before that because Harvick's form now is much closer to his 2021 output than what he did before that year.

Although Harvick hasn't had great speed this year, it has been decent enough to allow him to push for good finishes. He was 4th last week in Darlington, his 3rd straight top-10 and second top-5 in the past 6 races. He's not prohibitively slow, at least.

My initial plan was to hold off on betting Harvick to finish top 10 until after qualifying. His lack of speed this year likely means he won't qualify well, which could allow us to get a better number later. But with the market as a whole being tight this week, I wanted to snag the value while I had it, pushing me over the edge to snag this top-10.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Harvick to Podium (+1200)

I'm willing to admit that I messed up in betting Harvick to finish top-10 early in the week. But this podium number after qualifying feels like an overreaction.

Yes, Harvick was slow in practice and qualifying. But that was to be expected. Harvick hasn't had a rating better than 12.4 in the practice section of my model this year (with lower being better), so he's constantly slow there. He has still churned out two top-fives, one of which was last week and the other being a runner-up in Richmond.

This isn't a situation where Stewart-Haas Racing lacks speed. Both Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe qualified inside the top 12. They should be competitive here.

Finally, as mentioned, Harvick did finish on the podium in both races last year when his form was poor. He just seems to know how to get around here. So it may be a bit bull-headed to go back to Harvick after a slow day, but I buy into what the numbers say here.

Post-Practice Addition: Ross Chastain to Win (+1100)

I couldn't quite get to Ross Chastain early in the week when his implied odds to win were higher than 10%. But now that he has slipped a bit post-qualifying, I'm in.

Chastain didn't log a five-lap average, but he was fourth in single-lap speed. He qualified 11th, which is actually higher than he qualified in Vegas. He was 18th there and went on to lead 83 laps.

After factoring in Saturday's numbers, I've got Chastain's win odds at 9.0% versus 8.3% implied. I wanted in on Chastain, and the lengthened number let me get in.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Erik Jones Over Chase Briscoe (+102)

Briscoe did have speed on Saturday. But so did Erik Jones, and my numbers like him at basically even money in this matchup.

Jones didn't have great single-lap speed, but he was 10th in five-lap average. The lack of short-burst speed led to Jones' qualifying 22nd while Briscoe was 12th. So, Jones will start in a hole.

But we saw in Las Vegas that you can make passes in this Next-Gen car, and Jones had speed both there and in Fontana. My numbers have Jones' average finish 1.63 spots ahead of Briscoe, so I'll happily lock him in at +102.