Talladega is in the books and we’re headed to the Charlotte ROVAL in search of the best NASCAR odds we can find. Talladega was quite tame by Talladega standards, but our picks and analysis were on point. Only three cars retired due to accidents and 27 drivers finished on the lead lap.
Ultimately in a two-lap shootout, a playoff driver finally won a playoff race as Chase Elliott edged out Ryan Blaney for the win. This makes Elliott the only driver locked into the round of eight as we head into the cutoff race for the Round of 12.
PROJECTING THE CHARLOTTE ROVAL
As I have all year when projecting road courses this week I’m focused on two things. First, how well have drivers performed at recent road courses? Second, how well have drivers performed at recent non-drafting ovals? Given the unique setup of the Roval, with large straightaways and turns from the regular 1.5-mile oval, I’m particularly interested in the driver’s recent 1.5-mile performance.
At this point, only Elliott is locked into the next round and only Chris Bell is effectively unable to get in on points. So I expect the other playoff drivers to be racing for stage points and effectively lowering their chances at an outright win. I think this also applies to Bubba Wallace who is sitting outside the round of eight for the owner’s championship. If Bubba can steal some stage points while the leader’s pit at the end of stages I fully expect him to do so.
Unsurprisingly, the top two drivers in my expected performance metric this week are Chase Elliott and Tyler Reddick. Third and fourth are also unlikely to surprise with Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson filling those spots. The first real surprise comes with Christopher Bell sliding into the fifth spot hot on the heels of Larson and Chastain. My Top 10 is filled out with Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell, Daniel Suarez, Christopher Buescher, and William Byron.
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NASCAR BETTING ANALYSIS: THE ROVAL
Bets I’m Not Making This Week
I’m going to do something a little different here to start the “bets” portion of today’s article. Given what I’ve written above, I can see why some might gravitate to Chris Bell. However, I’m not on Bell, or any other outright available at this time.
Passing On Chris Bell
Bell will be on the winning strategy and, as noted above, he is ranked highly in my expected performance metric. In addition, Bell has been the best Toyota road course driver despite the manufacturer’s road course issues. However, after a deeper drive, I just can’t bet him at the currently available prices.
Bell being highly rated makes sense. In my incident-adjusted speed metric for road courses, Bell has been inside the Top 10 twice and was 11th at two other races. The one race where he was truly slow was Sonoma where he was forced to start in the back leaving him stuck in traffic all day. Additionally, the speed the 20 Team has brought to the track over the past month is also bolstering his rating.
All of that said, the best odds available on Bell as of the time I’m writing this is +1800. This just isn’t long enough for me. Taking out the bad Sonoma race, his average running position (ARP) across the road courses is almost exactly 13th. His best ARP was 7.42 at the Indy Road Course. Over those four races, eight drivers have had a lower ARP. Critically for my concerns about Bell, with the exception of Watkins Glen where Kyle Larson pushed Elliott out of the way to get the win, the ARP of the road course winners has been under four.
The implied odds of +1800 come out to 5.26%, I just can’t see a driver who with the exception of one race has been around a tenth place driver winning more than 5.26% of the time. Even discounting most playoff drivers, there are just so many strong road course drivers here that 5.26% doesn’t seem reasonable to me. If Bell beats me at +1800 I can live with that.
No Other Outright Has Me Interested Either
The bottom line is I don’t see value on any of the top drivers in my metric. At market open, there was potential value on Chastain at +2000, but that is gone now and at +1600 I’m just not ready to jump in given his likely off optimal strategy, but for that, I would be on Chastain at this price though. Similarly, I’m not willing to bite on Kyle Larson at +800.
As noted above, my performance metric likes Larson. When he has been off the optimal strategy, however, he has been underwhelming. At Sonoma, he elected to stay out and win Stage 1. After the stage win, he was marred in traffic and could never get back to the front. He ended the race ninth with an ARP of just 12.10. That 12.10 ARP doesn’t reflect just how jammed up he was as it is inflated from being in the front for stage 1. So the place I’m seeing the biggest value right now is the Top 10 market.
NASCAR ODDS AND BETTING PICKS: DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL
#34 Michael McDowell Top 10 +105 | (FanDuel Sportsbook)
McDowell has been a beast at road courses this year. He is four of five finishing inside the Top 10. His only finish outside the Top 10 was a 13th at Circuit of the Americas. But you want more stats, don’t you? OK, here we go…
At road courses, McDowell has an average finishing position of 6.6 and an average running position of 10.0. He also has completed 78.2% of all laps run inside the top 15. Only two drivers have a better average finishing position, Austin Cindric, and Chase Elliott. Only two drivers have a better average running position, Chase Elliott and Tyler Reddick. Elliott (84.3%) and Reddick (81.5%) are also the only two drivers who have more laps inside the top 15. With five laps to go McDowell has an average running position of 6.6, which means that this isn’t luck either, he is at the front when it matters.
The only real blemishes on McDowell’s stats are in the laps led and fast laps departments. He has only led 2.8% of the road course laps and has only run 1.6% of the fastest laps. That ranks him 10th in laps led and 12th in fastest laps. But for a Top 10, those numbers don’t bother me. I have one unit on this ( I caught it at +120 early Tuesday ) and would bet it down to -115.
#17 Christopher Buescher Top 10 -110 | (DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet)
Like McDowell, Buescher has been on fire at road courses this year. Like McDowell, he is four of five finishing inside the Top 10. Also like McDowell, his one finish outside the Top 10 was the first road race of the year at Circuit of the Americas. But wait, there is more!
Buscher has an average finish of 9.6, good for fourth best in the Cup Series. In addition, his average running position is ninth best in the series over the five road course races. Finally, he has 5.8% of the fastest laps run at road courses this year. When you add in the fact that RFK seems to have found some speed in general as of late I love Buescher to finish inside the Top 10 this week. Books are a bit sharper here as compared to McDowell, but there is still value at -110. I have one unit on this (which I got at even money on Monday) and would bet it down to -115.
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