I could spend hours writing about the chaotic race that was the Coke Zero Sugar 400. But the playoffs start on Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and I want to get right into the Best NASCAR Bets. This is the 27th race of the year and the second race at Darlington. So while Darlington is a unique track, we have plenty of data we can use to project this week’s race.
Darlington is a 1.366 mile egg shaped track with steep banking and aggressive tire fall off. The tires this week will be the same as those from the spring race. The left side tire was also as was used at Charlotte and the right side tire was used at Auto Club, Vegas, Kansas, Charlotte, and Nashville. Incident adjusted speed showed meaningful correlation between Darlington 1 and these five races. However, all of these tracks have significant differences from Darlington, so I am not giving them the full weight that my incident adjusted speed metric would normally suggest.
I’m also using data from Pocono and Michigan. These tracks are not normally seen as similar to Darlington, but this year my incident adjusted speed metric shows meaningful correlation between the tracks. This may be an anomaly that I’m giving undue weight, but even if Darlington isn’t quite as fast as these two tracks, it does still require speed, so I am sprinkling data from these two tracks into my performance metric.
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Early NASCAR Betting Picks: Cook Out Southern 500
#18 Kyle Busch +900 | (DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet, BetMGM, and WynnBet)
My performance metric loves Kyle this week. I certainly understand hesitancy with him, but I’m sold. My bold prediction sure to age like milk: Kyle wins three times during the playoffs and it starts this week at Darlington.
Kyle was 9th in incident adjusted speed at Darlington this spring. Although he was “just” 12th in speed at Auto Club, remember Toyota had issues in general at that race. He has brought absurd speed to all of the other intermediate tracks. Kyle’s recent form is a mixed bag. He had mid pack speed at Richmond and New Hampshire, as well as at the recent road courses. But a return to a track where he has shown speed over the years is just what Kyle needs.
Kyle has finished top 10 in 13 of the 15 incident free races he has run at Darlington. The two finishes outside the top 10 were both 11th place results. He wrecked the last two races here, but the three races before that he finished second, seventh, and third. He was also leading laps in the spring before wrecking.
One last consideration, this is a long race that will involve lots of pit stops both under yellow and under green flag conditions. The aggressive tire wear means that teams will be switching tires every chance they get. The 18 team has been the second fastest team in terms of overall speed for four tire changes this year. Expect that if things come down to a late pit stop Kyle and his team will use that stop to advance or hold his position on the field, which may just be the difference in a win or second place finish.
Kyle may not have won here since 2008, but he has still been a strong performer at this track. It’s his time to win again. I have a full unit on this at +1000, the best you can get him now is at +900, I would bet him at that price but no lower.
#43 Erik Jones Top 10 +195 | (BetRivers and Barstool Sportsbooks)
Before Joe Gibbs Racing jettisoned Jones to give his ride to Chis Bell, Jones was six for six finishing inside the top 10 at Darlington. That run includes a win and four top 5 finishes. The 43 is clearly a significant step down in quality of equipment. Before his crash this spring however he had top 10 speed here. Jones also had the second fastest car at Auto Club. While Auto Club is a very different size and shape, is another higher speed, high wear track.
Petty GMS is clearly not on the same level as JGR, but Jones has shown he can still perform and Darlington is a track where he has excelled in his career. The odds at BetRivers and Barstool are also simply out of line with the rest of the industry. Jones opened at +200 for a top 10 at DraftKings but was quickly bet down. He has also been bet down at other books and the best odds for a top 10 at any other book are +150 and he is as low as +105 at FanDuel. At +195 Jones needs to pull off a top 10 just 34% of the time for this to be profitable. This is an easy bet for me.
If you want to be more aggressive you can even take Jones for an outright win. Caesars Sportsbook has Jones at +7000 for the win. For all the reasons above this is a good bet too. At +7000 the implied odds of this bet are just 1.41%. I’ve got a quarter unit on this bet and would take it down to +6000. Both his top 10 and outright odds here are simply mispriced for a driver who isn’t in a total back marker car and has won here before.
#20 Christopher Bell to win the pole +1800 | (DraftKings Sportsbook and WynnBet)
The 20 team has qualifying trim figured out this year. It doesn’t matter what speed they show in practice, come qualifying the car is a rocketship for the two laps he needs to run. In the spring Bell qualifed third after having the second fastest time in group A.
Bell won the pole at Las Vegas and Kansas. He has been in the second round in 15 of the 24 races where qualifying was set with the two stage process. Bell being priced at +1800 doesn’t make any sense in this context. This is particularly perplexing when his JGR teammates are priced between +500 to +1000. Books keep sleeping on Bell’s qualifying speed and I’m happy to pounce. I have half a unit on this and I would bet it down to +1500.
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