The NASCAR Playoffs Round of Eight starts this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we are once again on the hunt for the best NASCAR odds we can find. Sunday’s conclusion to the Round of Twelve was quite dull until a late caution created chaos. The Round of Eight however looks to be more predictable.
First up is 267 laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas is a “standard” 1.5 mile tri-oval with moderate tire wear. This means we have lots of data that we can look back on when predicting this race. The most relevant data comes from the five races that we have already run on 1.5 mile tracks this year. I’m also looking at data from other high speed intermediates like Pocono, Michigan, and Darlington as all of those tracks showed correlation of incident adjusted speed with the first race at Las Vegas.
PROJECTING LAS VEGAS
March is a long time ago and teams have learned a lot since then, but as a starting point let’s take a quick look back at the Pennzoil 400. Ross Chastain had a rocket ship in March, leading 83 laps with 28 fastest laps. He never fell below 15th place. Chastain had an average running position (ARP) of 3.83. That was nearly three positions better than William Byron who had the second best ARP at 6.48. At the end of the race Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. likely had the best cars. A late caution however bunched up the field and Alex Bowman “backed” into a win.
This week I have Ross Chastain as my top ranked driver. Behind Ross I have Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick as essentially a coin flip. The Top 5 is rounded out with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. Martin Truex Jr. slides into the sixth spot in what is more or less a coin flip between him and Larson. Noticeably absent from this group is any driver in a Ford, indeed the first Ford is Ryan Blaney in tenth followed by Joey Logano in twelfth.
Some other interesting data that I found when I was reviewing my metric this week: Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson are the only two drivers to complete all 1555 laps that have been run at 1.5 mile tracks this year. Only two drivers have had speed ranks inside the Top 10 at every intermediate course this year, Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin. Finally, only three drivers who have led more than 30 laps have more fastest laps than laps led, Martin Truex Jr. (39 more fastest laps),Daniel Suarez (28), and Denny Hamlin (5).
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NASCAR ODDS AND BETTING PICKS: DRAFTKINGS, FANDUEL
#1 Ross Chastain +1000 | (BetMGM, PointsBet, BetRivers, and Barstool Sportsbooks)
Ross has more laps lead and more fastest laps than any other driver on 1.5 mile tracks this year. He has completed every lap run at 1.5 mile tracks. While TrackHouse has gotten slower relative to the field, he still had an ARP of 10.05 at Texas. That was good for fifth best, right on the heels’ of Blaney at 10.03, Logano at 9.36, and Reddick at 9.25. Some people are hesitant to go in on Ross right now, but let me explain why I’m not.
First, while Denny Hamlin still hasn’t gotten “payback” on Ross for their early season incidents I don’t think its an issue. If Denny wrecks Ross when Ross has a chance to lock himself into the Championship Ross would almost certainly wreck him at Phoenix. Denny is focused on trying to win a championship, as long as Denny is alive in the Championship chase I think he races Ross hard, but won’t wreck him.
Second, a few weeks ago Justin Marks (who owns TrackHouse) implied that TrackHouse wouldn’t be using the most aggressive tire setups. In effect TrackHouse is giving up some speed to reduce the risk of tire failure. However, as Ryan Stevens noted on Twitter, there have been a lot of Cautions at intermediate tracks this year.
The average green flag run at Vegas in March was just 16.5 laps. The average green flag runs at Kansas were 24.4 and 22.4 laps. At Charlotte the average run was just 17 laps and at Texas it was just 14.3. On average eight cars have failed to finish the intermediate races. So just being around at the end, which Ross has managed to do, may be just as important as any extra speed lowering tire pressure might get his team.
I wouldn’t bet this below +1000, but I do have a full unit on Ross at that price.
#8 Tyler Reddick +1000 | (PointsBet, BetRivers, and Barstool Sportsbooks)
Tyler leaving RCR and being eliminated from the Playoffs hasn’t slowed down the 8 Team. Reddick won at Texas three weeks ago, the week after he was eliminated. He also won at the Indy Road Course just two and a half weeks after he announced he was leaving RCR.
Reddick has the second most laps led and fastest laps at 1.5 mile tracks. As just noted, he won at Texas three weeks ago. He had the best car at the second Kansas race before blowing a tire. He didn’t lead any laps at Vegas in March, but has led laps at every 1.5 mile points race since. At the first Kansas race he was the second fastest car before incidents eliminated him. Kansas is probably the most similar track to Vegas. So Reddick’s great performance there has me high on Red Dog this week.
Like Chastain I wouldn’t go under +1000, but I do have a full unit on Reddick at that price.
#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Top 10 +700 | (DraftKings Sportsbook)
I’m going back to this bet for the third time in as many 1.5 mile tracks. Ricky has been stronger than expected at 1.5 mile tracks this year. He has Top 10 finishes at Kansas and Charlotte. He also led laps at Texas just three weeks ago before incidents relegated him to a 27th place finish. I was hoping a book would give us even longer than +700, but +700 looks like the best we will get. I have a full unit on this, I would bet it down to +650.
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