NASCAR Betting Guide: GEICO 500

Jim Sannes
Jim Sannes@JimSannes
NASCAR Betting Guide: GEICO 500

2024 has been a tough one for Ford so far.

They're winless through nine races in the NASCAR Cup Series, and they've led less than 19% of the total laps run.

Most of those laps led came in Daytona and Atlanta, though, the two pack tracks on the schedule thus far. We get a third this week in Talladega with the GEICO 500.

My model expects a bounce-back for Ford here.

That's true across several markets in FanDuel Sportsbook's NASCAR betting odds. So let's dig into those now and outline what the model views as the best routes to buy low on Ford this weekend.

GEICO 500 Betting Picks

Austin Cindric to Win (+3000)

(UPDATE: Cindric -- despite qualifying second -- has since lengthened to +3500 to win. He didn't improve in my model because qualifying matters so little, but it's still odd he lengthened. While it's a bummer we didn't get the best number earlier in the week, he's very obviously a value at the lengthened number.)

Right now, my model is showing outright value on four drivers. Three of them drive for the same team.

That's Team Penske.

You could justify Ryan Blaney or Joey Logano, who are both +1000 at FanDuel. I've got Blaney at 10.5% and Logano at 9.4%, so both are above their implied odds. I'd just prefer them around +1200 or so to actually bite.

The cushion on Austin Cindric, though, is big enough for me.

It's very possible the model is too high on Cindric, but it has him at 5.4% to win on Sunday, up from 3.2% implied. He's up there thanks to his impressive record on pack tracks.

Cindric, of course, won the 2022 Daytona 500. But in 16 Cup Series pack races since then, he has four additional top-fives, one of which was in Talladega last year.

Cindric flexed muscle on these tracks in Xfinity, too. He won at Daytona and had three top-fives in six races at Talladega. When you put that on a team as strong here as Penske, good things will happen.

Unfortunately, I don't have much value on Cindric to finish top five (+350) or top 10 (+150) as I'm almost identical to market there. Thus, it's a win-or-bust situation on a bet that loses almost 95% of the time, even if my model is right. But this is where the value leads me, so I think taking Cindric outright is the proper approach in this instance.

Ford to Win (+180)

(UPDATE: This number has since shortened to +145. That's 40.8% implied, versus my model at 42.1%. It's technically still a value, though the edge has dried up quite a bit.)

If you want more safety while getting exposure to Blaney and Logano, this is your route.

Because of the small edges I have on Blaney and Logano combined with the larger edge on Cindric, I'm a good amount above market here. My model has Ford winning 42.1% of the time, up from 35.7% implied.

But it's not just the Penske drivers. I'm also just a hair below market on Todd Gilliland (+5000), Noah Gragson (+5000), Ryan Preece (+6000), and even Harrison Burton (+10000). Plus, it doesn't hurt to get exposure to the RFK drivers in Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher, even if I'm below market on them.

Although they didn't win at Daytona or Talladega, Ford was strong. Blaney lost Atlanta by inches, Cindric was fourth there, and they led more than half the laps in Daytona. This is good value on a deep stable where a handful of guys have a shot to cash the ticket for us.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Ryan Blaney to Win (+1000)

As mentioned earlier in the week, I had value on Blaney when he was also +1000. It wasn't a huge edge, so I was hoping he might lengthen later on.

Despite qualifying 21st, Blaney didn't lengthen. Bummer there. But it was worth a shot, and I'm still fine taking him at this mark.

Blaney's 10.5% to win for me, up from 9.1% implied. Other than Cindric, he's the only driver a full percentage point clear of his implied odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

This may feel like a reach at a superspeedway, but two factors nudge us toward one of the favorites. First, Talladega is a wider track, making it a bit less volatile than Daytona. That means drivers with shorter odds are easier to justify.

Second, Blaney is a demon on pack tracks. He's a three-time Talladega winner (with another at Daytona on his ledger), and he has a pair of runner-ups, as well. He has finished either first or second in three consecutive Talladega races.

We've seen that strength this year, too. Blaney finished second in Atlanta by 0.003 seconds, and he led 31 laps there. Thus, I agree with the model that Blaney is a bit undervalued, even at a very short number of +1000.

Post-Qualifying Addition: Austin Cindric to Finish Top 5 (+600); Cindric to Finish Top 10 (+200)

Again, I don't know why the market softened on Cindric after he qualified second. But sure, we'll add some safety cushion to our previous outright.

Cindric has run 15 pack races during his Cup Series career. He has five top-fives (33.3%) and six top-10s (40.0%). Those are both well clear of his implied odds at 14.3% and 33.3%, respectively.

My model is below those numbers but still well above market. I've got him at 22.5% to finish top 5 and 39.7% to finish top 10.

If you have a Cindric outright in hand from earlier in the week, it's important to be careful with bet sizing here so that you aren't over-exposed to a single driver at a superspeedway. Personally, my preference is to take my typical bet size and divide that across the three markets (outright, top five, and top 10), giving myself upside should Cindric bink without leaving myself vulnerable should be wind up in the junkyard.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.